Jump on a Jeep Safari
The day trip from Kas was going to be a long one but it proved to be full of fun, interest and action packed.
In a small mini bus the 10 of us + our guide set out at 09.00 from our hotel heading west. We stopped briefly to look down at the inviting looking cove called Kaputas. We were to return there later at the end of the trip. Our first big stop was at Patarra beach for an hour of sun bathing and swimming. Further along this beach are the turtle nesting areas but most of the visitors, myself included, didn't venture much beyond the rows of sun beds. It was a very pleasant beach with a gently sloping shelf into the sea.
After complimentary tea or coffee we then headed back for a quick look at the ruins of the ancient Lycian and Roman remains of Patarra before heading further inland to the larger site of Xanthos. Here the ruins are more extensive and include an amphitheatre, a column with inscriptions in more than one language and the remains of a temple which has mosaic flooring although these are currently covered over to protect the mosaics. By this time the sun was very high and the temperature had risen to about 40oC. Not the best conditions to go exploring ruins.
When we got back onto the minibus we were surprised to see a big container filled with bottles of water and water-filled balloons. These were to be our ammunition for the next step of the journey when we were going to soak our fellow travellers in the other 2 vehicles all heading in the same direction. It was a great laugh especially when we nipped through the small villages only to be sprayed with water from hosepipes held by the villagers.
At Saklikent we were due to have our lunch. Here the river that emerges from out of the cliffs opens out into a series of smaller channels where restaurants have laid out cushions and tables amongst the lush vegetation and bubbling streams of river water. The shade and the sound of rushing water made this a perfect spot to cool down and to tuck into a very nice buffet style meal.
Having chilled out and satisfied from a good lunch we were ready to explore the gorge and the river. At the start we had to traverse the river where the flow was at its strongest and coolest ( many would describe it as 'freezing'). If you didn't hold onto the rope whilst crossing the river you could easily have been swept downstream. Once across and up into the narrow gorge the river flow reduced significantly and we could easily scramble over the boulders and up to the waterfall which was about half a kilometre upstream. The gorge was very busy and you didn't get a feeling that this was a unique experience enjoyed by the few intrepid adventurers. Nevertheless it was fun and of course everyone had to get wet by standing under the waterfall.
Returning back to the entrance of the gorge we were then invited to 'body surf' down the fast flowing part of the river. That was great but by no means not for everyone.
Back on the minibus for a short hop to the mud pools further downstream. Here we all got caked in mud. It wasn't sulphurous mud, just thick, gloopy sticky stuff that we all plastered over ourselves before piling back into the river to wash it off. Frankly I could have done without that bit of the day but most of the group enjoyed it.
Finally we headed back east with a final stop at the lovely beach of Kaputas. The day finished off with a beautiful sunset over this small pebbly beach.
It was a very active, 'full on' day with lots of laughs, good food and great memories It also happened to be my birthday!.
If you want to book for a day trip like this you just need to visit one of the many agencies in Kas and they will happily book you onto the next available excursion. Prices will vary so you might want to shop around.
- Hiking and Walking
Simena: a stopping point on our Gulet trip
Our Gulet trip included a visit to this small settlement and medieval castle which is near Kale, about 40kms by coast, west of Kaş. The village is also opposite the island of Kekova.
We had about an hour to walk up the steep and narrow pathway to the castle and to mooch around the ruins, taking in the view and the obligatory photos. We could also see the outlines of the ruins on Kekova: these had survived the earthquake during which the rest of the island and town had sunk into the sea.
The castle itself has a small amphitheatre which has been carved out of the natural rock. Apparently it could accommodate about 200 bottoms. There are also some sarcophagi. I seem to remember sitting on one of them which was conveniently located under the shade. It was a very hot day.
We could also see the characteristic Lycian tombs each with their gaping hole on the side created by the tomb robbers.
There is an entry fee to the castle but because it was part of the pre-paid trip I don't know the price.
It was good to look around but in the heat I think most of us were just glad to get back on the boat for some shade and a swim.
- Historical Travel
Go sailing on a Gulet
The highlight of our week long trip to Turkey was the opportunity to spend two nights on a lovely sailing boat called a Gulet. The boat was chartered by the tour company and there were 16 visitors, two crew members ( though normally there are three) and our wonderful tour guide who doubled up as the replacement crew member.
We didn't actually travel very far on the boat - probably no more than 40kms in total but that didn't really matter because we moored up in two lovely bays for the night and we had other stopovers in small coves where we could snorkel or go off exploring caves. In two different bays we were lucky enough to spot the Loggerhead turtles as they bobbed up to the surface. At one point we could swim after one of them - with mask and snorkel we had excellent views of how it effortlessly moved through the water.
At one point we were joined by a small boat that asked if we wanted to ride on the banana shaped inflatable they were towing. Some of the group agreed and they all said they had fun ( something like 15TLira for the 20 minute ride).
The crew served up delicious food and we all enjoyed our communal meals. Drinks were available on board and we all kept a tally of what had been consumed - paying at the end of the voyage. It was all very relaxed.
Sleeping arrangements were equally informal. The small, well appointed, cabins became very hot so it was recommended that people slept out on deck under the stars. This arrangement was really just like a floating sleepover with grown ups and youngsters all sleeping alongside each other on the mattresses. I think we were all sufficiently relaxed and tired not to notice the occasional snoring bout.
The cabins also had a small cubicle with flushing toilets ( though toilet paper was to be placed in the bins - not flushed) and a small shower that was perfectly functional.
For me the one disappointment was that we didn't ever have the sail up. That would have made the voyage just perfect but I didn't see any boats with their sails up for the whole time we were at sea. The absolute best thing about the boat was the opportunity to swim at night and to experience the phosphorescence in the water as the surface was disturbed. The tiny pin pricks of light given out from the floating algae against the darkness of the night and the still sea was just magic.
Naturally the turtles were a close second.
All in all the Gulet was a fabulous experience for me and my two children ( both of whom are young adults). It was totally relaxing yet felt sufficiently adventurous to make it also exciting at the same time. All creature comforts were addressed and it was a great way to make new friends or to just find a quiet corner to curl up with a book or to gaze out on the horizon looking for turtles or perhaps dolphins.
I'd recommend it as a therapy for those who are prepared to try something different.
- Sailing and Boating
- Diving and Snorkeling
Andriake - unexpected remains of an ancient port
I'd gone looking for birds in the marsh and wetland area near to the town of Demre which is about 30 minutes drive east from Kas. Given that it was August and very hot I wasn't expecting to see much in the way of birds. Although I did find a few birds I was thrilled to find the amazing ruins of what I later discovered is called Andriake.
There are extensive walls, houses , columns and the showpiece - the enormous grain storage facilities - that were probably the main reason for the wealth of this small port and harbour.
The river has since silted up and a shallow beach has developed across the mouth of the river but judging by the scale of the remains this port was a busy and prosperous place in its heyday. It apparently started out as Hellenistic then Lycian but was taken over and adapted by the Romans until their decline. The granary, built during Emperor Hadrian's reign, stored grain which was later exported to Rome.
What I loved most about the site was the way there were absolutely no controls as I could just wander through the remains with only a few other people around. Indeed they looked as though they were part of the restoration team because some shade awnings had been set up and there were several workmen's tools lying around. I was amazed to find that broken bits of pot littered the floor and in places debris from shells - presumably the garbage chucked out by the roman inhabitants. This site is clearly not on the main tourist trail but for me that made it all the more exciting because it clearly had been of importance in its heyday so by wandering around unheeded, I felt as though I could make my own interpretations of the site and explore at my own pace.
Carry on Canyoning
I wasn't really sure exactly what the canyoning trip entailed. I'd watched the promotional video at the agency that showed youngsters leaping off rocks into swirling pools of water, abseiling down steep rock faces and clambering up slippery boulders but it wasn't until I'd actually got myself fully kitted out and raring to go that I realised what excitement could be had pushing myself into doing things that were well beyond my usual routine in life.
The canyon in question was actually an hour and 30minutes drive up into the hills due north of Kas near a place called Sütleğen. It wasn't a canyon on the scale of the Grand Canyon but the little trickle of water it held clearly had great erosive power at some times of the year because it had carved out a steep channel through the limestone rocks.
Our first main challenge was to abseil down a sheer drop of about 200 feet, about 65m. We were roped up and shown what to do but once we'd gone over the edge we were pretty much on our own. It was good that we hadn't been able to see how far we were to drop until we'd gone over the lip of the waterfall. If we had seen this we might have had some dissenters. Anyway we all made it down in one piece and some managed it more elegantly than others. Once down we were greeted by the remains of an unfortunate wild boar that clearly had come down without the aid of ropes.
Spurred on by some chocolate bars we then went down the channel a short distance before doing a left hand turn up the adjoining river bed. The rocky sides were very steep and gorge-like and here we could have fun in the numerous rock pools. There was a lot of rock scrambling and some clambering that sometimes required a leg up or assistance from behind - literally.
In the end we spent at least a good three hours in the canyon having fun and trying out challenging activities. On top of that we had a stopover in a charming, small turkish café where we ate our do-it-yourself sandwiches . These we consumed hungrily at the end of our trip. All equipment was provided and I felt that our local guides, two very pleasant, cheerful, young men, knew exactly what they were doing and so we were in good hands.
It was a full day excursion so quite pricey but well worth the expense. Sometimes doing things a little bit out of your comfort zone can be great fun and truly memorable. It was the last day of our adventure week and I really felt we finished off in true 'adventure' style.
The photos were taken by the guides - so thanks to them and their company for making it all possible.
- Hiking and Walking
- Adventure Travel
Try out a test dive
Now I've not done any sub-aqua or scuba diving before even though, whenever I go anywhere wet and warm, I try to go snorkelling. When the opportunity to have a sample go at sub-aqua arose I jumped at the opportunity.
Kas is known as the dive 'capital' of the Turkish Turquoise coast and judging by the large number of boats all offering diving trips from the harbour it is an accurate description.
A test dive was an optional activity as part of my adventure week, following our cruise on the Gulet. It involved a short boat ride to the other side of the bay near Kas where we were given a brief introductory talk by the lead diver. We were to have strict one to one supervision whilst underwater. We only went to a depth of about 4-5metres and I felt perfectly safe at all times. The boat supplied all the gear including mask and fins, wetsuit and weights. The mouthpiece regulator was fairly easy to get the hang of and we were shown how to equalise the pressure in our ears as we slowly descended to the sea bed. The dive leader was close behind and I'm glad to say he wasn't saying to me to smile for the camera so I could enjoy the dive; all 20 minutes of it.
Unfortunately I cannot give you the price because our trip was arranged through a third party agency but it didn't strike me as being overly expensive given that you were out for about 3 hours.
The boat also had free hot drinks which were very welcome after the dive.
The experience was very positive and I am pleased to say it inspired my son, who accompanied me, to join up with our local sub-aqua club in order to get the full training programme.
- Diving and Snorkeling
Daily Boat Tour with Captain Ergun
A very memorable day as we were treated to the delights of the Mediterranean thanks to the professional and very charming Captain Ergun and his capable 1st mate aboard the good ship “Gülsah-1”.
Departure from the Port of Kas was at 09:00 which was great as we were an hour in front of all the mainstream tour operators; this ensured we had a private (1 boat) bay to ourselves for our snorkelling and swimming pleasure.
This set the pattern for the day; fantastic swimming locations, beautiful scenery, historic sites and great personal service. All the swimming equipment is supplied which includes a scuba bike! And just to get you ready for the G & T or beer on the run home you can take the speed boat / donut ring challenge; yes I survived!!
Then the sail home to arrive back in Kas at 19:00, so it’s certainly value for money.
The 4 of us all agreed Captain Ergun is a great ambassador for Turkish tourism and I think the other 2 passenger would endorse our view.
Oh, did I mention the food; all that swimming and snorkeling certainly gives you an appetite. The BBQ fish or meatballs at lunch time fit the bill and they don’t come much fresher as they are cooked by Osmar on the back of the boat!
- Sailing and Boating
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
From the republic Square where there's a statue of Ataturk and an open-air coffeehouse fronting the marina, take a long walk along the Suleyman Sadikci Street and further up Hukumet Street passing by several hotels and restaurants. Walk further until you reach the beach area, one of them on the far end is called Kucuk Cakil (Small Pebbles) beach, and I really mean small.
Whereas, in a fair distance of 2 or 3 kms there's another beach called Buyuk Cakil Beach (Big Pebble Beach), bigger area than the previous one - after all "buyuk" means big and "kucuk" means small - but in the end they're both pebbles beach, does that makes sense?
Buyuk Cakil is a scenic cove with about 5 restaurants that provides sunbeds umbrellas on the pebble beach. It's some half an hour walk from the center of Kas, or maybe a little more.
Those were a couple of decent beaches within Kas., so don't expect much.
But there are a lot of hotels along the Kucuk Cakil area that has their own beach - not sandy beach, but they have platforms above the seawater level with beach umbrellas, sunbeds, even couches - and where you can jump directly to the water. Same platforms converts to romantic dining restaurants at night.
Xanthos was the name of a city in ancient Lycia and was the centre of culture and commerce for the Lycians and in turn for the Persians, Macedonians, Greeks and Romans.
It is probably best known for the mass suicide of its citizens after the army was defeated by the Persians. The Lycian army destroyed their acropolis, then killed their wives, children and slaves before engaging in an impossible battle with the mightier Persains troops.
The tragedy was later repeated against the Romans in 42 BC.
The sarcophagi on pillars are unique to this area. The Xanthian Obelisk, covered by the longest writing in the Lycian script, has been of importance in the interpretation of the language.
The site has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.
- Historical Travel
Myra and the story of Santa Claus
Myra was part of the league of Lycian towns and was an important centre for the minting of coins. The oldest coin found dates to 3rd century BC however it is thought that the rock tombs are from 6th century BC. As with all of the Lycian towns it was taken over by the Romans.
Myra is famous for another reason - it is the home of St Nicholaus. He was a child of a wealthy family and dedicated himself to serving others. Many stories are told about him but this is probably the most famous.
" A poor man had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment would have to become prostitutes. Hearing of the poor man's plight, Nicholas decided to help him but being too modest to help the man in public, (or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to his house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man's house.
One version has him throwing one purse for three consecutive nights. Another has him throw the purses over a period of three years, each time the night before one of the daughters comes "of age". Invariably, the third time the father lies in wait, trying to discover the identity of their benefactor. In one version the father confronts the saint, only to have Saint Nicholas say it is not him he should thank, but God alone. In another version, Nicholas learns of the poor man's plan and drops the third bag down the chimney instead; a variant holds that the daughter had washed her stockings that evening and hung them over the embers to dry, and that the bag of gold fell into the stocking." - Wikipedia
The history of this village goes back to 4th century BC. It was once a city of Lycia - there is actually a sarcophagus out in the bay and a necropolis on the hill. There are the ruins of a medieval fortress on the top of a hill behind the town. Within these ruins can be found the remains of an ancient temple. There is also a small Lycian theatre.
Simena is situated on a beautiful and safe natural harbour and is best approached by boat from Ucagiz (where the yacht harbour is situated). You can spend hours wandering the twisting streets or climb to the top of the fortress (care must be taken as you reach the top). The views are spectacular - even on a rainy day! A trip to Kekova is also warranted.
The area is best seen as a day trip from Kas.
Simena is the name for the ancient town. The modern name is Kaleköy but it is commonly referred to as Simena.
- Historical Travel
Kekova Island is across the bay from Simena and Ucagiz. Here you can see the sunken ruins of a residential part of old Simena which was submerged by an earthquake in the 2nd century.
These are best seen as part of a boat trip around the bay - either a day trip or or a longer stay. Boats can be rented from Kas, Ucagiz or Simena.
- Historical Travel
After passing through the ruins of Patara, you'll end your tiring day up for a refreshing swim at the longest beach along the mediterrenean - the Patara Beach.
Maybe it's not peak season yet, though there are people around, they are mostly concentrated near the only snack shop or cafe that rents out beach umbrellas too. It was voted one of the top beaches in the world by Times Online in 2005. It's long enough to accommodate everyone -- at 12 kilometers in length. The rest of the beach stretch on the left side is almost empty.
Soft sand unlike the pebbly beaches right in Kas, and the water too is calmer. It's the perfect beach for those seeking a space and non-commercialized beach area, no buildings or structure around except for the snack hut and the shower and toilet facilities. It's under environmental protection due to the large presence of the caretta caretta (endangered loggerhead turtles) nestling and laying their eggs here between the months of May - October. The beach is closed after sunset - or I think at 8:00pm because of that.
Entry fee to the beach is TL2.
From Xanthos, our safari jeep went to Patara passing by several ruins. Patara is the birth place of St. Nicholas, founded by Patarus - son of Apollo. Patara was noted in antiquity for its temple and the oracle of Apollo, second only to that of Delphi (Greece). It is mentioned in the New Testament as the place where Paul of Tarsus and Luke changed ships. The city was Christianized early, and several early bishops are known.
Patara has several ruins to boast of, mostly along the road on the way to the beach, like the city gate which you will pass because it's on the main road, an Roman Bath, antique theater, and so many other structures that are being reconstructed.
- Historical Travel
A World Heritage Site - Xanthos is our next stop after Saklikent.
It's an ancient Lycian City located at the present day Kinik in Antalya Province.
The Romans called the city Xanthus, as all the Greek -os suffixes were changed to -us in Latin. Xanthos was a center of culture and commerce for the Lycians, and later for the Persians, Macedonians, Greeks, and Romans who in turn conquered the city and occupied the adjacent territory.
Read WIKIPEDIA for a more detailed history of Xanthos
- Historical Travel
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