Fethiye and Butterfly Valley

Full set of Fethiye, Kayakoy, Lycian Way and Butterfly Valley photos

Fethiye (pronounced fet-ee-eh) came like a breath of fresh sea air. A pretty port town on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast surrounded by hills with multi-million dollar yachts bobbing in the harbour. It had the feel of Sydney’s Middle Harbour at the start of summer. The guesthouse we stayed in had one of the smallest toilet/showers we had ever seen (like on a boat) but it was clean and more than made up for this shortcoming with a gorgeous view down the hill to the harbour and into town. Despite thin walls it was in a quiet part of town and we gratefully sucked up some more sleep.

Fethiye was the most glamorous city we had been in since Istanbul and despite being small the foreshore had some bling. We walked along the harbour to the canal, followed that inland for a time then started walking up towards the local castle. Along the way were some ancient Lycian sarcophagi (tombs) sitting abandoned in an overgrown patch of park and in an intersection. Turkey is full of neglected ruins. There are just so many of them that it must be hard to keep track of them, let alone maintain them. Instead they adapt to new urban lifestyle, often with a coat of graffiti and a scattering of beer cans and broken glass at their base. These tombs had the extra interest of grazing chickens to keep them company. We continued wandering uphill getting delightfully sidetracked in small alleys with abandoned houses before finally clambering up past a canoodling couple in some undergrowth to emerge at the crumbling castle that overlooks town, and the excellently placed bar where we had a drink after clambering over the ruins.

This part of the world also has a lot of caves which were carved into Petra-style tombs in the 4thcentury BC with the same ornate columns, albeit on a smaller scale. To round out the day we had a nice dinner, then while wandering back to the hotel we spotted a musical soiree underway at the small Roman theatre, so we camped our bottoms on the same stone steps as thousands of generations have done before us.

An essential part of any stay in this part of the world is a trip on a gulet, a Turkish sailing boat, which takes you, well, wherever you want to go really. We just did a day tour of the islands around the harbour as our time in Turkey was running out and the weather wasn’t warm enough just yet. The boat was huge with a sunning deck and lots of comfortable seating. It powered out of the harbour and then, when the conditions are right, the crew hoisted the sails so we were gliding above the turquoise blue water. It was slightly too cold to swim but that didn’t stop us jumping in. The water is lovely though brisk at that time of year. The weather closed in later in the afternoon and when our last stop turned into people sheltering from the rain we called it a day slightly early and headed home.

Another jaunt that we earmarked early on in Turkey was a walk on the Lycian Way, a 45-day walk along the coast between Fethiye and Antalya which covers rocky shorelines, sandy beaches and tonnes of incredible ruins. We could only devote one full day to it, but it was an amazing day. We got a dolmus to the ghost town of Kayakoy which was occupied by Greeks before they were swapped with Turks from Greek Macedonia in a population exchange deal at the start of Turkey’s independence. The Turks they moved into this area didn’t cope so well with farming the rocky landscape and they left the town to look after itself, which it has done fairly well. It’s a sizable town and the abandoned church captures the atmosphere of the place, peaceful and lonely.

From Kayakoy we walked over the headland and left the crowds behind. Far below us was the sparkling turquoise water of the Mediterranean, unnatural in its brightness. A yacht bobbed in a secluded harbour, dwarfed by the towering bush-covered hills near the coast.

The walk took us down to the beach which, although one of the nicer beaches on the coast, had been ruined by the resort feel and faux English pubs serving Yorkish pudding and roast beef. Why this particular part of the coast had been overrun by Poms was unclear but we didn’t dig the atmosphere. There were paragliders leaping off a nearby hill, one of which almost landed on our heads as we were walking along the footpath. Sarah was tempted to join their ranks and jump off the nearby mountain but the fear of potentially lower safety standards held her back. Ironically this didn’t stop us later going on a hot-air balloon ride in Capadoccia where they have had a fatal accident.

We got a bit lost shortly afterwards, accidentally taking the coastal road and then getting a dolmus even further along. A short taxi ride corrected our error and we found ourselves in a pine forest at the official start of the Lycian Way. The path went uphill on a rocky path without much cover for the next hour or so which gave amazing views back down the coast and of the paragliders still gliding down over our heads. We walked through tiny villages precariously places beneath landslide-prone scree slopes, the fields full of goats and sheep. We were surprised to hear a man yelling from behind us we walked along, the sound coming closer to us at a fast rate. When we looked back we were even more surprised to see not a man but a big goat charging down the road uttering a guttural yawp at fearsome decibels. Sarah braced herself in fear that we would be charged but the old billy goat stopped by the side of the road and bellowed downhill at another group of goats who seemed to be wandering off in a direction he wasn’t pleased with. They bleated back at him to pull his head in and he redoubled his roar for them to come back immediately. We walked on with the conversation echoing around the hills.

After our 25km walk we stayed that night at a great little set of cabins just above Butterfly Valley, a huge rent in the earth with a lovely beach that you can only reach by sailing in or climbing down the very steep path. But we left that for the next day and enjoyed a well-earned rest in front of a spectacular sunset, then an awesome vegetarian buffet. We woke to find a beautiful day and about 45 minutes later we had clambered our way down the cliff path, abseiling down the steeper parts with the support of an old knotted rope. The valley is rocky and lush with wild flowers along the bottom and a beautiful little beach disturbed only by a few boats coming in for day trips. A small commune is based there, living off shared labour and an open beach bar serving tourists. I left Sarah sunning herself to explore the waterfall at the base of the valley. It was not a huge waterfall but the experience is made more unique by the knotted rope that you can use to pull yourself up through the winding water for a better view higher up. It would be incredibly difficult to climb out of the valley this way but the views are fantastic.

We left reluctantly (Sarah had discovered the hammock) and got the dolmus back to Fethiye through the awful English resort town and enjoyed our last night by having dinner next to a duck pond.

Full set of Fethiye, Kayakoy, Lycian Way and Butterfly Valley photos

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