For decades the southwestern coast of Turkey has drawn lovers of the great outdoors and nature enthusiasts to the region. Some choose to explore the countless coves & bays, miles of unspoilt coastline and crystal blue waters via boat. There can be few more tranquil ways to travel than on a Blue Cruise along Turkey’s coastline.
However, the coastline also offers fantastic hiking along sections of the 540 km Lycian Way. A walking and camping holiday is a great way to do this. Not only is it affordable but you get to see some wonderful sights without them being spoilt by hordes of tourists. Here are a few of the best camping locations along the southwest coast of Turkey.
In the Butterfly Valley
Butterfly Valley is a natural paradise, hidden between towering cliff faces and opening out onto a narrow bay. The area is a grade 1 protected area and therefore no permanent structures can be built on the valley. Instead there’s is a simple wooden beach bar and a shady camping area which fills up at weekends. Take a water taxi from Oludeniz beach and set your tent under trees on the edge of the smooth pebble beach, before taking a hike to a waterfall inside the valley and searching for rare species of Butterfly. In the evening you can either cook on a small campfire or taste some local treats in the beach shack. The best part about camping in the Butterfly Valley is watching the sunset over the azure blue water.
On the Islands
Around the Gulf of Fethiye are several scattered islands and one, in particular, is ideal for camping. Flat Island, is visited by daily boat cruises and private gulets or you can get there by taxi boat from Gocek. As the name suggests, part of the island is perfectly flat, however the best place to pitch your tent on the tree lined hill where there are views across the sea and all the way to Fethiye Harbour. When you’re feeling hungry, visit the Gozleme boat, where an elderly woman is waiting to make traditional Turkish Pancakes stuffed with cheese, spinach, potato or meat.
Above the Ghost Town
The Ghost Town of Kayakoy has been abandoned since 1923 when the population exchange treaty was signed. Now about 350 decaying houses, most missing their roofs or walls, are spread across the steep valley slope. Walking through the eerie cobbled stone streets is both an unusual and exhilarating experience, some say you can even hear the voices of bygone spirits whispering in the winds between empty building. A footpath leads up through the ruins to the head of the valley where there are flat spaces to pitch a tent. Sunset is unique here as the ruined homes are illuminated in the rich red-orange light.
In the Hippy Village
Kabak (Pumpkin) beach had been a popular weekend getaway for Turks from the city for some years now but it is still not well known among international tourists. The quaint ‘hippy village’ is made up of small cottages spread along the hillside. Accommodation is mostly available in campsites and wooden bungalows, with yoga classes on the outside terraces overlooking the sea. At the base of the valley is a small pebble beach and secret cave in a bay of tranquil waters. Surrounded by trees on either side and hiking paths which lead to neighbouring villages and forest waterfalls.
Between Ancient Ruins
This 12 km wide sandy beach is framed by Lycian ruins on either side, with a backdrop of wildlife rich wetland and countless tomato greenhouses. There are campsites on either side of the beach but the western side is a better place to base yourself. The beach is home to a turtle nesting area and protection project and a 5 minute walk inland will take you to the once great port city of Patara. Built by the Lycians over 2,000 years ago, the extensive site boasts two large theatres and a marble columned entrance way. Archaeological sites are scattered over the surrounding fields.
Next to the Flames
You may choose to visit Cirali after finishing a Fethiye to Olympos Blue Cruise, the two villages are connected by a 4 km wide pebble beach, backed by steep cliffs, thick forests and the majestic Tahtali Mountain. Here Caretta turtles nest on the beach and waymarked hiking trails continue to Lycian ruins, quiet beaches and abandoned mines.
There are many campsites in Cirali village but for a stunning view and unique camping spot, you will need to head into the national park and hike up to the Chimera flames. These natural ever-burning fires spring from between cracks in the rocky hillside, lighting the way at night. Keep walking past the main site to reach the Upper Flames where you can set your tent among pine trees on the hilltop and roast marshmallows over the small fires with a view over Cirali and the Turquoise Coast.