The Lykian yolu is known as the ancient path in Turkey that has been used by merchants for many centuries, providing contact between far away countries and exchange of goods, spices, but also information. Nowadays, you can walk the Lycian way as a tourist, following the red and white sign which will lead you from Fethiye to Antalya.
In reality, the Lycian way is a combination of ancient trading ways, medieval cobbled roads and narrow trails that seem to belong more to goats than to people. Me and my husband have been in Turkey for a few weeks by now, having hitchhiked all the way from Albania, and experiencing this amazing journey together in southwest of the country has been our dream for many months. Walking all the way to Antalya is a long distance and since the winter is approaching faster than we would wish, we decided to get a taste of it walking for a week at first. I hope that we will be able to continue further than that in the future days and weeks. (Update: It got too cold, we´ll wait for spring.)
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Shit You Must Know
Now, I know many people (most people?) pay for a local guide to accompany them on this journey and help them find the way, accommodation and other practical stuff. However, that is not your only option – we walked from Ölüdeniz to Letoon (near Patara beach) easily just following the signs and using a GPS occasionally – if you have both, you are golden. Even though it is November now, the weather is still friendly (my husband walked part of the way last year in December, actually) – throughout our journey the weather was sunny and the days were warm enough to walk in a short-sleeve t-shirt. I know, I know, everyone is looking forward to getting drunk at the Christmas markets at the moment, but you can do other stuff too – summer is not the only time for adventure!
Before you go, you have to:
- Download the Maps.me app. Google maps doesn´t have much details in this area and if you are WiFi dependent as me, it might be tricky, on the other hand, with Maps.me you can download the map of the area and use it offline. It has a lot more information too and that is true not only in Turkey (for instance, it perfectly covers all the walking paths in Slovakia, my home country)(in case you ever wondered)(I love using brackets, don´t you?).
- Pack enough food. November is off season already and although you can usually find a restaurant or a “pansiyon” open in the villages you pass through, most of the path leads you to the wild nature and it might be a problem to find a decent shop. (Which means: get some rice, pasta, a small cooking pot and lots of tuna cans because you´ll be happy if you can find dry ekmek.)(Ekmek is bread in Turkish.) Veggies are a luxury.
- Think of the equipment. Although the days are sunny, we oftentimes camped up in the mountains which means cold. Our tent is meant for summer so it has a very good ventilation (you don´t really appreciate that in the end of autumn, obviously) – we solved this problem by covering the top of it with our otherwise useless, albeit colorful, hammock. Maybe it looked funny, but it worked! Sleeping bag is a must. If you have one of those emergency sleeping bags which refract the heat, pack it as well. Or an emergency blanket. I used to have one but it smelled dreadfully so I threw it away; during cold winter nights, I wish I hadn´t. Good trekking shoes are imperative. I once walked for a week in bad shoes. Don´t be a masochist, choose your boots carefully!
- Bring a big (BIG) bottle. Unlike food, water is relatively easy to find even in the low season. There are fountains and wells and if you ask in a house, people will let you refill your bottle without any problem. It is drinkable as far as I know – I have been drinking this water since I am in Turkey and have no digesting problems so unless you are extremely sensitive, you are fine. If not, pack a water filter. (I have it but I don´t use it here.) They also sell bottles which already have the filter built in so that is another good option.
- Empty your backpack. Seriously, don´t bring so much stuff. The Lykian yolu goes up and down the mountain – the path is really fun to walk, but also difficult and unless your granny was a mountain goat and/or you went through a military training, you will feel every gram. Leave those extra pants, you won´t need them. I don´t even mention a computer. (Oops, I just did.) Not even a small one. (I have a small one and I was patting myself on the back for not bringing it during the whole week.)
But but but…where will I take a shower? And a dump?
I must tell you (somewhat sheepishly) that during the whole week of walking and camping, I didn´t take a single shower. My eczematic skin was beyond elated. That doesn´t mean I didn´t wash at all; on the second day of walking, my monthly visitors arrived (great timing, I know) and (even more so since I have started using a mooncup) I am extremely careful about my hygiene down there. (Hmmm…am I supposed to shut up about these things? Too bad, I won´t.)
Fortunately, as I said, the water wells are nearly (kindda) everywhere so it is easy to wash (it´s not like you are going to run into a crowd there in November anyway) – if you are more shy, there is a mosque in every village too. And guess what, every mosque has a public bathroom and running water. While it might not be the 5* comfort you are craving when your hormones are going crazy and your belly is hurting as f*ck (and you are climbing a goddamn mountain for already two hours), it works. If you can stand the smell, you can also take an improvised (cold) shower there. Hooray!
Fuck the feeling, it´s about the experience!
If that sounds too gruesome (and not instagrammable at all), remind yourself that you are here for the adventure. Pack some chocolate as a reward for your shattered senses.
Alternatively, you can swim in the ocean. I did in Kabak, but there is also the Butterfly valley (the village of Faralya) and the Patara beach on the way.
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Okay. Now, what are the finest 5* camping spots?
You already know you´re in for some serious mountains. For that reason, a little bit of planning where to stay for the night won´t hurt!
We started walking in Ölüdeniz near Fethiye where we hitchhiked in the morning, but you can also start directly from Fethiye – ask for the mountain road and look for the red and white signs. “Lykian yolu” means (surprisingly) Lycian way and if you say that, look confused and point in all directions, people will help you find your way for sure.
If you start in Fethiye, the next village is just 8km away – it is the ghost town of Kayaköy that is worth some exploring. You might want to look for a couchsurfing host here – that way, your first day of walking will be short and relaxed. (We walked this part after coming back to Fethiye.)
If you start in Ölüdeniz as me, you will get a supreme view of the coastline right from the beginning.
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How far do I have to walk every day?
The two of us love to hike in the mountains, on the other hand, we are not in a great condition. We like to eat a lot and lay on the couch too. (To tell you the truth, I am perfectly fine with staying indoors for DAYS and working on this blog.)(Cough cough, hope it shows.) We divided the way in portions of more or less 10 km a day and it was enough for us – some days we walked for four-five hours because of the hard terrain.
I wrote more on how we divided the journey this article, so hop over: 7 days on the Lykian yolu
Hiking the Lycian Way in November
November offers good weather for walking; while it gets a bit cold at night, the days are sunny and the trails are empty; more so in the current political situation (autumn 2016) where only a small portion of the usual number of tourists decided to visit Turkey.
If your adventurous spirit, hiking ambitions and love for camping still bring you here, make sure to share your impressions with me! Oh, and be careful about snakes and scorpions. And drink lots of water.
Wikipedia is also a great source on the Lycian way, be sure to check it out.