Write: Melih Uslu Photos:Ahmet Bilal Arslan
We Started Out From Dalaman!
We Started Out From Dalaman!
HEART OF THE AEGEAN, DALAMAN IS A GATEWAY TO THE WONDERS OF THE TURKISH COAST. HERE IS A BLUE CRUISE OVERLAND FROM FETHİYE TO DATÇA, EVERY KILOMETER OF WHICH PROMISES A SURPRISE.
Gateway to the southern Aegean, Dalyan is like the point at the end of one leg of a compass with whose other leg you can trace ever-widening circles and explore the beauties of the region. Our aim is to start from Sarıgerme and branch out via Fethiye to Dalyan, Bozburun and Datça.Fifteen minutes from Dalaman Airport, Sarıgerme is ideal for water sports thanks to its sheltered bay where forest and mountains meet a shallow sea. There are no less than exactly five diving schools in the region, a virtual underwater paradise. One of Sarıgerme’s most experienced divers, Bahadır Çevik tells us how rich the underwater caves at Aşı Cove are in terms of color and diversity of species. We stop to pick blackberries on the Fethiye road lined with pomegranate orchards. Along this road, Göcek is a popular stop on blue cruise itineraries. From the village of Hisarönü we continue to Karaköy, main base of the Lycian Way Ultra Marathon, run this year for the second time. The marathon, which covers the most exciting stretch of the 240-kilometer ancient way, is held in the last week of September. After spending a night at a tent camp with the marathon team, we have time the next morning to float briefly over the Ölüdeniz (Dead Sea) in a paraglider. By noon we are at Köyceğiz. Writer-journalist Çetin Altan describes the beauty of this town in Muğla province at length in his book, It’s A Good Thing There’s This Köyceğiz. The only Sweet Gum (aka Liquidambar) tree in the world stands here. Drifting through the sinuous canals of Dalyan, which joins Lake Köyceğiz to the Mediterranean, is like waking up from one lovely dream to another. Vibrant green slopes, the tombs of ancient kings and reeds as tall as a man glide past as the gaily painted boats move slowly through the canal. And the blue crab feast offered on board is just the icing on the cake. The turnoff for Bozburun is 21 kilometers along the Marmaris-Datça road. Hisarönü at the entrance to the peninsula is known for its horse farms and beautiful beach. Further along the road, Orhaniye Cove greets us with its marina and island dotted with ancient ruins. Here too is the spit of reddish sand known as Maiden Beach, where you will feel as if you are walking on the water. The village of Turgut three kilometers ahead is famous for its handwoven carpets. And the Anatolian pyramid on the road to the waterfall is without a counterpart in the world. Rising atop a rocky slope that overlooks the valley, this pyramid is actually a burial chamber built by Egyptian warriors who came to the region between the 4th and 2nd centuries B.C. After Selimiye we are on a road of stunningly beautiful views. A small quay lined with fish restaurants catches our eye on Bozburun Cove, chock full of yachts. Earning a livelihood from fishing and sponge-fishing up to the 1970’s, Bozburun today is the region’s biggest center for yacht building. According to Cumalı Akdemir, owner of a popular local restaurant, the world’s biggest blue cruise gulet at 54 meters in length is currently being built here. Every curve along the 8-kilometer road from Bozburun to Taşlıca affords a new view. The village of Cumhuriyet (formerly Saranda) boasts an impressive panorama that includes the island of Simi (Symi). There are many islands just half an hour away by boat on the open sea, almost none of them inhabited. Taşlıca at the tip of the peninsula is also well worth seeing. Water is still drawn from ancient wells in this village famous for its free-roaming horses. Meanwhile Serçe (Sparrow) Harbor on the gravel road out of the village is the nearest spot on land for getting to Loryma Castle. Finally we’re on our way to Datça. A turnoff to the right three kilometers before the town center points to Old Datça, where the historic windmills are the last surprise before New Datça. The road from Datça to Knidos boasts landscapes reminiscent of a deserted island. The peninsula’s most beautiful coves, Hayıtbükü and Palamutbükü, come after the turnoff for Mesudiye. And at Knidos on the road from Yazıköy we fall plumb into the heart of nature and history. It’s a good thing we came here!
The bee hives found in abundance around Dalaman point to a vast potential. Close to 80 percent, for example, of Turkey’s pine honey is produced in Muğla. Higher in enzymes, aminoacids and minerals than other honeys, it is of a quality rarely seen in the world.
The houses, chapels and cisterns at the Kayaköy ruins some 8 kilometers from Fethiye bear witness to a history going back to the 3rd century B.C. The village of Turgut on Bozburun Peninsula is famous for its waterfalls hidden in a wooded valley. An old water mill is another surprise in this popular spot, which is easily toured thanks to hiking trails.
The pyramid-shaped burial chambers in the village of Turgutlu are without a counterpart in the world.Taşlıca at the end of the Bozburun Peninsula is one of the last places in Anatolia where you can still see wild horses. Roaming freely in the environs, the horses can be seen in the early morning hours around the lake behind the village.
Lined with yachts and fishing restaurants, Bozburun Harbor is like a giant pool. Musician Bülent Ortaçgil, a well-known personality in the area, expresses his feelings in his song, Bozburun: “It starts in the deserted coves… the song of the scents. We sent the sun to all the colors; neither child’s voice nor city hum, our only friend now is the phosphorescence on the water.”
Threatened with extinction, the sand lily is found on the shores of Dalaman. This white flower blooms in autumn.
An inspiration to poets with its secluded virgin coves, its historic windmills and the ancient city of Knidos, Datça is beautiful in every season. Set amidst almond trees, its charming cottages of honey-colored cut stone are festooned with bougainvillea. The road from Datça Harbor to the end of the peninsula is chock full of landscapes reminiscent of a deserted island.
İztuzu Beach at Dalaman is one of the major habitats of a the Caretta Caretta sea turtle, another species threatened with extinction.
We recommend three locations for sampling the region’s fresh seafood and tasty olive oil dishes: Dalyan Wharf, Datça Harbor and Bozburun. It’s a good idea to ask the price before ordering your fish.
Most of the hotels in the region offer discounts up to 70% in December and January. We recommend that you make a reservation just in case the hotels on the coast might be closed.
One of the loveliest open air markets in the Dalaman area is set up Mondays at Köyceğiz. Fresh fruits and vegetables, medicinal herbs, butter, country cheeses and homemade ice cream are just a few of the things you can find here.
Shops selling the famous Datça threesome, fish, honey and almonds, are rife here. To hear the experienced merchants tell it, the finest quality almonds are the ‘nurlu’. The fish too are fatter and more flavorful in winter. And the area’s intensely aromatic pine honey is widely available.
Fethiye, Göcek, Marmaris, Bozburun, Datça, Akyaka… All are within easy reach of Dalaman Airport and convenient places for starting a blue cruise. You can glide along Turkey’s breathtaking coasts on anything from a day tour to cruises lasting up to a week.
The waterfalls at the village of Turgut on Bozburun peninsula lie hidden in a wooded valley. It’s well worth it as well to see the valley’s water mill, which can be toured easily thanks to walking platforms and tiny bridges.
Turkish Airlines has Istanbul-Dalaman-Istanbul flights daily.
ALMOND BLOSSOM OF THE AEGEAN
Slopes studded with almond trees, the turquoise sea popping in and out of view at every step, sailboats gliding along the intricate lace-like coast, deserted coves… And the last surprise on the Datça Peninsula with the Aegean at one end and the Mediterranean at the other is Knidos, an ancient city harboring thousands of ruins as it gazes wistfully on its next door neighbor, the lighthouse.
You can simulate the blue cruise experience on land by taking a jeep safari on Bozburun Peninsula. You’ll also have a chance to sample the local specialties on these tours, which usually depart from Hisarönü
With its houses scattered among the almond trees, Old Datça is a Mediterranean dream. And the thyme, lavender and watermelon infusions on offer at the café on the village square will refresh you in a jiffy.
Rugged slopes covered with millions of rocks, arid fields of cactus and the dried trunks of trees… You will feel as if you are on another planet in Taşlıca, the last village at the tip of Bozburun Peninsula.
The garden of the 300-year old windmills at the entrance to the village of Kızlan in Datça are used as a cafe. You can even go inside one of them and have a look around.
DID YOU KNOW?
That the world’s oldest shipwreck lies off the coast of Knidos at the tip of the Datça Peninsula? Some 400 meters under the sea, this shipwreck is estimated to be 1,500 years old. It is described as a vessel 17 meters long and five meters wide laden with amphorae.
ŞAHİN TÜRKMEN / SEA CAPTAIN
“İztuzu Kumsalı 2011 yazında Avrupa’nın en iyi plajı seçildi. Dalyan ile İztuzu arasında yapılan tekne turlarının seyir keyfi çok yüksek. Köyceğiz Gölü, Kaunos Kral Mezarları, Çamur Banyosu, sazlıklar, dağlar, nehirler ve Akdeniz’in turkuaz suları görebilecekleriniz arasında”
“İztuzu Beach was named the best in Europe in summer 2011. Cruises between Dalyan and İztuzu are high in pleasure. Besides Lake Köyceğiz, the Kaunos Royal Tombs and the Mud Baths, the rivers, reedbeds, mountains and turquoise blue waters of the Mediterranean are just a few of the things you can see here”