Bayram Break on the Mediterranean

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of Turkey  , Antalya,
Saturday, October 18, 2008

A few weeks ago we headed off to the Mediterranean coast, for a nine day break... our Ramadan break... Our journey included taking off with friends, Dennis, Kristin and their daughter Ceci... our collective family wants included Debra's desire of soaking up the sea, Carsten demanding some cool kayaking, Dennis voiced kayaking as well, Aidan wanted snorkeling, Ceci said swimming, Kristin wanted to hike the mountains and I was set on taking in a few ancient sites. Well... we satisfied all... it sounds like it would have been crazy trying to accomplish all of this... but not in Turkey... all was to be had within a very small patch of land... Turkey is so endowed with natural beauties and ancient ruins... I continue to be amazed...
We broke our journey down to the coast into a two day adventure... driving through multiple mountain ranges... until arriving at a small town tucked in the Sultan Mountains... an the edge of one of Turkey's largest lakes... It was a relaxing evening, as we stayed on an island jutting out into the lake... talking, eating, fishing and playing cards... The next morning was spent taking in an autumn market that runs for about 4 weeks... a destination for a multitude of villagers to come down from the mountains to sell their goods and buy supplies for the winter season...
Arriving at Sundance Camp, a campground nestled on a private Mediterranean beach overlooked by Mount Olympos... serving organic food and offering horseback riding and day hikes into the mountains... sounded like a slice of calm heaven... and a place not easily found in Turkey... Although it was beautiful, it was filled with many who loved to party till the wee hours of the morning... not what we had in mind...

We left on route to Kas, Turkey's outdoor recreation area... The journey was stunning as we drove the coastal road... yet beauty can blemish after hours of twists and turns... and a mind that fights a bellies desire to empty all contents... We made it around the last bend and dropped down the mountain road, to a narrow coast of land... with deep blue water lapping the rocky coastline... Found our camping spot, Kas Camping... totally full... but the owner, a diving junky, couldn't turn us away, so he moved a few of his cars and let us park near the entrance to the camp... not romantic, but the 5 minute walk to the water... and the multiple patios terraced on the rocks made up for it... we all quickly changed and took a jump into the deep water... refreshing... The next few days were filled with throwing our bodies and faces into the water and snorkeling the coastline... Dennis found a moray eel tucked into a few rocks... and shared the treasure... it was beautifully spotted and camouflaged... looking like not only the rocks but also the bent rays of sunlight dancing around underneath the water...
Also hiked the Lycian Way... Lycian is actually the name of the ancient people that lived in this area of Turkey... a tough, very advanced culture that had many similarities to the ancient Greeks... They were actually the first federation of independent states... cities... that had representatives that would travel to the city of Xanthos to collectively run the governmental system of the federation... okay enough history for now... oh almost forgot... on our way back to Ankara, Deb and I and the boys stopped off at Xanthos... it was a fascinating site... I always love the ruins in this country... they quite often speak of who we are today... the roots of many cultural practices found throughout the world... okay... okay... back to the story... We hiked off one day to a sandy beach... spent the day laying around and drinking Ayran... an incredibly salty and milky... kind of yogurty drink... an acquired taste...
Dennis hooked into town later that day and found a kayak company that would take us on a private tour of the Kekova area close to Kas... Woke up around 5 am the next morn and drove up the mountains and back down to a few ancient villages lost in time... pulled out a few double kayaks and a single and headed out into the sea... the trip was unreal... truly amazing... one of the best travel experiences we have had since arriving in Turkey... For the full day we kayaked out to an island off the coast... and hugging the shoreline, floated over an ancient submerged city of underwater building foundations, roads, steps and even a mosaic floor... the ancient city of Kekova was devastated by an earthquake that broke off the edges of the island... dropping parts of the city into the sea... after we crossed a wide open expanse... headed off to a large sea cave... pretty cool to kayak right into it and get a look... heading out we stopped off at a bay to pull up to shore and grab a bite to eat... our guide laid out a meal of fresh fruits, vegetables, bread and other Turkish mainstays... on our last leg back we cruised past an old Byzantine castle, through submerged Lycian tombs of the dead... stopping at a small island... maybe about 1 acre in size... filled with wooly black goats and ancient early christian ruins... we took a quick swim and dried off... kayaking our last 30 minutes back to the village... where we jumped in the van and headed back to Kas...
I need to say that this stretch of Turkey is most amazing and anyone wanting a journey of a lifetime should head here... but only if a sense of adventure is in your blood... Kas has been dubbed the outdoor recreation area of Turkey... and for good reason... the mountains are steep and rocky... the waters deep and perfect for scuba diving... and the many islands off shore are excellent for exploring... not to mention one of the world's best spots for para-sailing... which we did not do... maybe another time... Our journey back to Ankara was long... beautiful... but uneventful.... just the way any driver on any Turkish road hopes it to be...
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