Note to reader: This author did not walk the entire Lycian Way, though I sampled a few of its sections and detours. From this, I have gathered some general observations and tips about walking the Lycian Way at the end of the post.
I’d never traveled by camping car with another couple before. I would do so now, with Phil and Angie, from tip to tip of Turkey’s Lycian Way.
What would traveling with another camping car be like? Bruno and I had developed a routine over the past three years, one which included early breakfasts, timely departures, slow driving, relaxation in between sightseeing, and early nights. Would Phil and Angie’s travel style mesh with ours or would we have to compromise? Would we do everything together or allow our paths to ebb and flow more naturally?
It didn’t take me long to get the answers to my questions. After our visit to Antalya Museum, Phil and Angie headed into the mountains for a few nights while Bruno and I continued further along the Lycian Way. And when we met up again in a wild camp near Kalekӧy, Bruno and I hiked up the Lycian Way to visit the village ruins ourselves, while Phil and Angie stayed at camp to prepare a delicious Indian meal.
Along the hiking trail were sarcophagi in the shape of overturned boats. According to one local we met, the Lycian people believed in life after death. The dead buried inside the sarcophagi, he said, would be able to turn over their tomb and use the boat to help them travel to the afterlife. The views from the top of the hill were absolutely mesmerizing – the best I’d seen on the coast of Turkey so far. The colors were as vivid as if the view had been painted, and uninhabited islands tumbled down from the hills. There wasn’t a road in sight. Kalekӧy was completely isolated, only reachable by boat or this walking path.
Now that the Lycian Way was a proper tourist attraction, Kalekӧy had unfortunately lost a great deal of its indubitable former charm. It still had fruit trees and wild herbs growing through the old Roman walking paths. It still contained the ruins of a crusader fortress crumbling on the top of its hill. It still had a Lycian tomb in the shallow waters of its azure bay. But it also had women selling trinkets on the side of the path, restaurants all advertising kӧy dondurma (village ice cream), and pensiyons (guesthouses) at every turn. I guess that’s what happens when the Lonely Planet declares that a town is “one of the western Mediterranean’s truly delightful spots”. Bruno and I felt out-of-place with such tourism, so we decided not to take the must-do canoe trip out to Kekova’s underwater ruins.
And so, the four of us continued further along the Lycian Way, to Patara and its 15km long beach (the longest in Turkey). Though we didn’t exactly follow along one behind the other, we met up a couple of times along the road, tooting and waving while we passed one another. In Patara, we hiked together up a dirt track to a forest, and then down massive sand dunes onto the endless beach. Bruno and Phil searched for fossils in the rocks and I learned the names of some of the wild flowers and plants from Angie. Curiosity got the best of us, and we wandered up onto the cliffs at the eastern edge of the beach, just to see what might be around the corner. On the way back, Bruno and visited the Patara ruins (the capital of the Lycian League for a time!) while Phil and Angie (who’d already seen the ruins) returned to the campsite to book a ferry to Greece, where they’d decided on a whim to spend the month of June. Isn’t the life of an overlander great?!?
It seemed the four of us had settled nicely into one another. None of us felt the need to take part in each activity. We allowed for couple time. We felt able to do online research, read a book, or take a nap in one another’s presence. Yet we also prepared meals together. Talked late into the night. Heck, we even washed each other’s hair! We’d become more like a family than just good friends.
And like a little family, we decided to drive the next section of our Lycian Way together, on a dirt track through a pine forest and over a hill to the seaside city of Fethiye. Phil and Angie knew this corner of Turkey well, having spent two months Help-Xing in the nearby countryside. Almost every Tuesday, they had gone to the Fethiye farmer’s market, and Angie had told me of the delicious homemade dairy products you could buy here. Indeed, on the day they took us, we bought thick yogurt scooped out of giant vats and sampled half-a-dozen young white cheeses before settling on a few strong crumbly ones.
Phil and Angie also showed us their secret hiding spot – a wild camp with an incredible view over the rugged, forested bays of Fethiye region. I still can’t believe we got to swim in the crisp crystal water faraway from all the tourist beaches, hike along an overgrown patch of the Coastal Trail toward an isolated monastery (I don’t care that we didn’t make it!), and share a sunset and sunrise looking out over the water. It was an incredible spot that Bruno and I would never have found on our own and that was made doubly special by sharing it with friends.The four of us had been dabbling in the Lycian Way for weeks – a few kilometers in Phaselis, a few more in Kalekӧy; a Lycian Way detour loop in Patara and an alternate path near Fethiye. I wanted to do a full day’s hike on the Lycian Way, though. In fact, I’d originally wanted to do a few days, but we’d overstayed our time in Cappadocia and Phaselis and had recently opted to drive to France (where we needed to be for July 1st) rather than take a series of ferries, which meant that we were now counting our days. One full day’s hike along the Lycian Way would have to do.
Bruno and I drove along a spectacular coastal road south of Fethiye, to a tiny hillside village called Faralya, overlooking the beautiful Butterfly Valley. We were welcomed by Bayram and his family to camp for free in the tiny parking lot of his Montenegro Motel. Over tea on his terrace-with-a-view, he gave us a full page of written directions on a 17km loop we could complete the following morning, to Kabak village and back.
So that’s what we did. We followed yellow and red trail marks along the Coastal Trail to Kabak, which gave us fantastic, close-up views of the Mediterranean, and we followed the official white and red marks of the Lycian Way up the hills to what felt like the top of the world to get back to Faralya. It was an exhilarating walk through seemingly virgin trails. We encountered almost no-one, passed through a charming local village with crumbling rock houses and an old-fashioned wheat grinder, and communed with more of that fabulous natural beauty I’d spent the last six weeks in Turkey falling in love with. Oh, how I do love walking in Turkey!
When we reconnected with Phil and Angie in Dalyan, it marked the end of the Lycian Way and just about the end of our time together. On our final night, we shared a picnic of Turkish snacks we’d picked up at a local woman’s market we’d happened past earlier that day, and toasted to our next encounter. The thing about an overland life is that we can’t be sure where or when we’ll meet, but we do know it will happen. Phil and Angie are headed to Africa and we’re off to the Americas. But we all know that somewhere, someday, we’ll travel another Lycian Way together.
Tips and Info About Walking the Lycian Way:
- The Lycian Way is generally well-marked in white and red stripes. When the path is straight and clear, the marks will become less frequent, but when the path is grown-over, windy, or on rocky terrain, frequent markings will help guide you. If you don’t see the white and red stripes for a few hundred meters in a confusing area, backtrack until you spot the stripes again.
- There is a good network of accommodation and food as long as you plan your walk from village to village. Most of the time, this is doable, but there are a few sections of the walk where distances between villages are particularly long. It’s a good idea to bring a tent for those days, and also because I noticed some amazing-looking spots for wild camping. As long as you stock up on food and water at each opportunity, you should never have to carry too heavy a load.
- The Lycian Way is an incredibly popular tourist destination. There seem to be as many people doing it backwards now as the right way (the “correct” way is from West to East). If you’re worried about walking alone, it’s likely you’ll be able to pick up a walking partner or two along the way.
- The Coastal Trail, marked by yellow and red stripes, often links up with the Lycian Trail. It can be a more scenic route, and I highly recommend it – but only if you’re sure your detour will once again re-join the main route! We found it fairly difficult to get maps of the trails, but the locals do seem knowledgeable on the paths in and around their villages.
- I found the first section of the Lycian Way (after Olüdeniz) the most scenic and interesting. It has the greatest amount of coastal views, though less Lycian ruins. Personally, I’d actually choose a different long-distance walk were I to hike for a month in Turkey. The Culture Routes Society has created several wonderful long-distance walks in Turkey, all of them less touristy than the Lycian Way. A fellow blogger friend walked the Evliya Çelebi Way, and her experience sounds amazing. If you do opt for the Lycian Way, a pretty good description of the distances, directions, and water sources can be found here.