Hiking the Lycian Way

Mum has always been the walker and I’ve always been a runner. But within six months on this trip I had become more and more obsessed with the benefits and enjoyments of hiking. When mum decided she would come and visit me on my round the world trip, what better way than to do a five day long distance walk together?

The Lycian Way is a 540km, 29 day trek along the Turkish mediterranean coastline designed and marked by British woman Kate Clow. Today there are various guesthouses that offer accommodation between villages and transportation of luggage between points as most people (in fact, all the people we met) only do part of the way. Unlike the famous Camino de Santiago, it’s much more remote, less busy and not as well kept or marked making completing the entire trek a pretty arduous task.

What was meant to be a beautiful and simplistic way of discovering Turkey’s coast and spending time together turned out to be a much more challenging, entertaining and satisfying experience than we thought.

Day 1 Antalya to Tekirova
Today was meant to be an easy three hours to get into the groove of things but we soon discovered what the walk was really going to be like. We were dropped off at the side of a highway and soon realised the point didn’t match the notes we’d been given. Luckily a Russian guy passed and showed us the way. We hit a track and soon overtook our friend until we reached the top of a hill to find the markings taking us in circles and he had to point us in the right direction again once he’d caught up.

We walked through Phaselis ruins on the coast before continuing on towards our overnight accommodation. We began following our map and soon realised that it was taking us to the wrong Pension which explained why we saw other hikers going in a different direction to us! We ended up catching a ‘taxi’ (random shop owner) to the right pension that we’d organised… Shhh! Don’t tell anyone we cheated!
Walking time: 3 hours

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Day 2 Tekirova to Cirali
After struggling to communicate with our non-English speaking Pension owners we managed to get on our way fairly early to try and avoid the heat of the day. We followed a 4WD track through the bush and soon hit the expected one hour hill climb. On our descent we soon realised that our notes didn’t match the signs on the track so we decided to follow the cairns and red paint marks instead and hit the beach as we’d hoped. From here things got hairy, the landmark ‘fishermans huts’ were no where to be seen and we had to search around for the continuing trail. We were extremely lucky to see three hikers coming down the other way and we almost hugged them with joy. We realised we weren’t the only ones struggling with the trail as those same three girls soon came back to us asking for the track we’d taken down the other side.

We continued on the undulating trail over coves with magnificent views of the ocean until we reached our Pension for the next two nights.
Walking time: 6.5 hours

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Day 3 Cirali
We learnt that two German girls had done the same walk as us the day before and had gotten lost at the beach, headed into the mountains and ended up spending the night in the bush while a search team was looking for them all night, eventually finding them at 6am!

With that in our heads we set off for our circuit walk out to the Olympos ruins and around to the Chimaera flames. Our first obstacle was the ‘dry riverbed’ that was not dry so we wasted half an hour wading through the water to get to the other side. Then we got to Olympos where we wandered through the ruins of the ancient Lycian city before trying to find the trail for our walk. Following our notes and a local guy saying, ‘yes hiking, that way, left or right doesn’t matter!’, we stumbled through an overgrown valley and realised there was no trail at all. We picked our way through the bush to see if we could find one but all we found was one cairn, one red marker and a very overgrown faint track. Being 12pm already and hot, plus the prospect of possibly sleeping in the bush like the Germans had done, we decided to turn around and go back. We ended up sharing a taxi to see the Chimaera flames at night instead!
Walking time: 4 hours

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Day 4 Cirali to Adrasan
We cheated again and got a lift in a 4WD over the ‘dry’ but not ‘dry’ river before walking through Olympos for the third and last time to continue on our trail to Adrasan. Today was mentally easy considering the path was marked extremely well but physically more of a challenge as we gradually climbed Mount Musa. At the start of the trail we saw a sign ‘pension and cafe this way’ and we thought ‘yeah right, good joke’ but when we got to the top of the mountain there was an old guy with a makeshift pension in an old shepherds hut. ‘Tea, coffee, water, juice?!’

We got a good look at Adrasan from above before we descended down the hill towards the town. We’d had a fairly good day at a good pace until we hit the edge of town and the markers disappeared. We walked through farms and glasshouses until we reached another flowing river. We walked up and down it in between local crops and orchids until a local farmer showed us the stepping stones they use to get across. We finally got to our Pension, discovering the proper crossing right near our pension that we were meant to use… I swear we are smarter than this sounds!
Walking time: 6.5 hours

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The red and white painted markers showing the Way

Day 5 Adrasan to Karaoz
Our most challenging day yet. At 23km we estimated about 8 hours walking so we set out early knowing the weather would heat up. We had two decent climbs through pine forests before we finally came out with a view of the coast. We followed it along before our last big effort steeply climbing up to what we thought would be the lighthouse. But once we got to the top we looked down to see the lighthouse was still a while to go.

The trail was rocky and steep and by the time we finally made it to the lighthouse our feet were sick and tired of stepping over rocks. We had a break for a while before continuing on the last 8km to our end point for the walk. Again, we thought we’d made it into town as we started to see a few campers but we got to a cove looked at a town on the other side and asked ‘Karaoz?’, ‘Yes’. That was demoralising. So off we trudged for the last hour along a dirt road around the cove to town before getting picked up and driven back to Adrasan for the night.
Walking time: 7.5 hours

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Well, I don’t think we could have predicted how great the walk was going to be. Yes, it was much more challenging that we expected and yes, it was frustrating having to search for the badly marked trail at times but there was something about walking for hours on end following red markers that became addictive. The days following the walk, mum and I found ourselves looking at things red and going ‘red mark!’ and feeling envious seeing other Lycian Way signs and hikers along the coast. All we wanted was to be back on that trail, possibly getting lost, but who wants to see the country in a boring bus!

*post adapted from my trip here in May 2015 and from my previous blog site elishasbigtrip.wordpress.com