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On a canoe tour you can discover the most inaccessible places while savoring the silence in cool waters. And most of the trails you’ll take are natural wonders in themselves!
Yep, I was finally sure of it. Making the acquaintance of the canoe had enriched my life. In fact, I was a typical nature walk enthusiast. Over time I had begun to be curious about the coastlines, reed beds, rocky coves and sea caves I couldn’t reach by walking. It was that curiosity, I think, that drove me to the canoe. Later I found out that canoeing is one of the oldest boating sports with a history going back to pre-historic periods. The boats that were made by carving out tree trunks in antiquity began later to be fashioned out of beech bark by Native Americans. Used by them in the rushing ‘white’ waters, these primitive craft were transformed in time into what we know today as canoes. Thanks to these paddles, you can easily maneuver between the rocks and gain access to one-man beaches, pristine coves and undiscovered ancient ruins.
HEAVE HO AND OFF WE GO!
Okay, so who can make a canoe tour? Let me tell you right away: anybody who is in condition to hike. One, two and three-person canoes are designed in such a way that even an amateur with no experience can use one. On condition of course that he follows all the requisite safety precautions and takes all the fine points into account. Above all else, a life jacket is essential against the possibility of the canoe capsizing. After taking your seat in the canoe, fasten the your life jacket using the chest and waist straps. A sea canoe will absolutely not sink as long as it isn’t cracked or broken. The only risk is tipping over in the canoe. There are two things to do in this situation, which fortunately happens extremely rarely: First, keep your cool. Second, get out of the canoe and swim to the surface of the water, go back to the canoe and take up an appropriate position. Once you’ve arranged your provisions and other gear, stowed in waterproof bags, in the spaces front and back, you’re ready to embark on your adventure. If you are setting out on a canoe tour for the first time, it is useful to gain experience with a group accompanied by a guide. Canoes are like colorful paper ships swaying in the azure waters, and usually just a few hours’ practice are all that’s needed to learn to balance one against the current. Listening to the peaceful splashing of the water, the rustling of the reeds and the song of the birds as you paddle along is a pleasure without match in the world. Here are three special suggestions for canoeing:
The mysterious shores of Lake Bafa, which sticks out like a big blue lollipop between the olive trees on the Söke-Bodrum highway, can be an interesting choice for a canoe tour. On this, the largest lake of the Aegean region not from from Milas, there is a canoe route about 5 kilometers long encompassing the lake’s rocky shores and numerous small islands. In addition to the September-October period is also ideal for canoe tours. Due to the gentle breezes and tranquil waters characteristic of this lake, canoeing buffs can paddle for at least 3 hours without getting tired. And skimming over the underwater ruins of the magnificent ancient Carian port city of Herakleia is a unique experience. Not only that but the chance to discover the many islands large and small on the north shore of the lake makes a canoe tour even more attractive. The enigmatic Monastery of the Virgin Mary on the İkiz Islands in the north of the lake harks back to the Byzantine period. Another of these tiny islands in Lake Bafa, known in mythology as the place where the moon goddess Selene fell in love, is Menet Island, a sanctuary for rare birds. Meanwhile Kahvehisar Adasi on the lake’s southern shore is known for its strange legends of ghosts and fairies.
A southern township of Erzincan province, Kemaliye with its unmatched landscape and climate is eminently suitable for all water sports as well as canoe tours. The Karasu, one of the two branches of the Euphrates, Kemaliye Valley boasts a rich diversity of habitat and climate thanks to a sharp rise in altitude over a short distance. An Alpine ecology is observed here on mountain steppes over a thousand meters in elevation, while a Mediterranean climate reigns along the length of the valley. The Silk Road, which joined Anatolia to Central Asia, also attracts canoeing enthusiasts for its rare wildlife. The depths of Karanlik Canyon, which makes an extremely wild appearance with its sheer rock walls, is the most exciting of the approximately 10-km long canoe route.
You can follow the traces of the Lycian civilization by paddling through Turkey’s first underwater national park at Kekova in Kaş province. Paddling in turn along the shores of Karaloz Cove, Tersane Cove, Sicak Burnu, Kekova Island and its environs, and Kaleköy (Simena) on the 60-km trail that starts from Uçağiz Cove, one returns eventually to the starting point.
It is necessary to set aside at least two days and to paddle an average of four hours a day to complete the Üçağiz-Kekova-Simena route by canoe. Whether you prefer to camp out in one of the naturally secluded coves or stay in one of the local hotels or bed and breakfasts is up to you.
The coves around Kekova are generally sheltered and calm, but the area around Kekova Island may be quite rough at times. Besides the Sunken City, Tersane Cove on the western shore of Kekova Island and the Lycian graves, a portion of which are under water, are some of the most exciting stops on this trail.
THE DANCERS OF LATMOS
Did you know that the oldest rock paintings in Anatolia are found in caves in the Beşparmak (Latmos) Mountains, whose rock formations are reminiscent of an alien planet? Rather than scenes of war and the hunt, these nine-thousand-year-old wall paintings in a large rock cove with a narrow entrance hidden in a rocky terrain surrounded by olive trees depict the members of a happy family dancing.
HOUSES OF KEMALİYE
The traditional wood and stone-built Kemaliye houses exhibit the architectural styles of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Hittites, Seljuks and Ottomans. Figures of the Mother Goddess Cybele symbolizing fertility can even be encountered on the exterior walls and wooden decorations of some of the houses. Among the twenty some villages attached to Kemaliye, which reflects the area’s characteristic texture, are Apçağa, Ocak, Bahçe, Akçali, Ergü, Yeşilyamaç and Sirakonaklar.
CANOE ROUTES IN TURKEY:
Turkey is a perfect paradise for canoeing enthusiasts with ten different places around the country where you can enjoy the sport: Lake Sapanca (Adapazari), the Eşen River (Muğla-Antalya), Ölüdeniz, Köprüçay, the Demre River (Antalya), the Göksu River (Mersin), the Çoruh River (Artvin), Dalyan (Mersin), Lake Salda (Burdur), and Karine Lagoon (Aydin)