Turkey: The Datca Peninsula, October 2012

Paddlers:  Hugh, Ken, Geoff and Liz


The Datca peninsula is in South West Turkey and projects westward from the Marmaris area for about 80 miles. The peninsula is wild and beautiful and exposed to the dominant wind system of the Aegean known as the Etesian or Meltemi wind. This runs from the West every afternoon at between force 3 and 5  and any progress into it is extremely slow.

The Aegean wind system

Our route took us from the village of Akyaka at the top of the Gulf of Gokova, west along the north coast of the peninsula, round the point at the ancient ruined city of Knidos and back eastward to Datca.

The Route

Because  of the wind we had to stop most days in the early afternoon, which in turn led to early morning departures. The total route length was 174km, 108 miles.


We had it hot and sunny except for the last morning which was overcast. The wind, however, kept us cool when paddling and the nights, although hot by UK standards, were tolerable.

Day 1

A slight mistake by one of our party who picked up the wrong bag, and a rather excellent fish sandwich and beer  lunch delayed departure by a couple of hours. This led to our first experience of the Meltemi wind and the battle to make progress westward in the afternoon. We eventually found a pleasant camp site just as the light was failing for our first night.

Final Plans (Liz, Dean, Geoff [hidden] and Ken)
First Night: Beach with campsite behind

Distance Covered  6.5km 4mi

Day 2

To counter the lack of progress we agreed on a 7.30am departure. At the time we did not realise that dawn was at 7.15 and breakfast would be in the dark. However all went well and we were out on a flat calm sea by 7.25. 

Dawn of Day 2

Paddling in Turkey

Our first stop was Sedir Island, the site of the ancient ruined city of Cedrae. This was the location of the summer palace of the Kings of Caria and contains the impressive ruins of an outdoor theatre dating around 200 BC. There is also a beautiful golden yellow limestone beach which tradition states was a gift to Cleopatra from Mark Antony.

The Theatre

A 90 min break for culture and coffee put back the schedule and by 12.00 the Meltemi had begun. By 2.30 we were seeking shelter. There was a short interlude for diving to recover a dropped flask perfectly visible at a depth of 10m and then on to Ali’s Bar for a relaxing afternoon and evening.

Camp Site at Ali’s

Distance Covered 25.4km 15.8mi

Day 3

Another early start with dawn just breaking. Flat calm, a heat haze and utter beauty. A long, sunny day with the breeze gradually increasing. Some long stretches of open water as we cut from headland to headland to try to get back on schedule. Finally, as the wind became just too strong for pleasure a lovely camp site under an olive tree, an excellent fire and another bottle of wine.

Distance Covered 32.2km 20mi

Day 4 

Another glorious day. Initial calm and haze becoming hot and windy. Lovely scenery and empty beaches. Conscious of a poor forecast (high wind) later in the week  (which could prevent us rounding the peninsula) we pushed on. The sea was notably rough in final section past the terminal of the Datca-Bodrum ferry. This was rather like some of the terminals in Scotland with nothing there except the admin buildings – and, of course, the sun.

With little progress because of the wind we found a surprisingly good site a few metres up a small cliff with masses of drift wood for another excellent fire.

Distance Covered 33.7km 20.9mi

Day 5

A pre-dawn start with Liz and Geoff on the water at 7.15.


As we progressed west the cliff scenery became more rugged and beaches less frequent. 

At our mid morning break we were joined by a fisherman picking herbs who showed us a set of steps cut in the rock dated around 500BC, not unusual in this part of the world.

We pushed on, anxious to round the critical Knidos headland before the afternoon wind. We stopped for a quick lunch in a small cave and then on.

Spot Ken, Geoff and Hugh

The headland itself was extremely lumpy with water apparently coming from all directions. Luckily the wind was still relatively light and the boats extremely stable but rescue practice in rough water is definitely a need!

By 2.30 we were in the cafe at Knidos having a well earned beer. Knidos is an extremely important site of an ancient Hellenic City. The area is covered with the ruins of the city which reached its zenith in around 400BC. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knidos gives details.

Aerial Shot of Knidos. Note the area covered (the boats are around 40ft) and the size of the swell!

After three expensive beers each for the guys and a sightseeing tour by Liz we finally determined there was no resting place at the city and set out in high spirits and a very brisk cross wind. A very bouncy half hour brought us to our fifth camp site; the beach.

Distance 33.5km, 20.8mi

Day 6

With the pressure off, the next two days were much more relaxed. The scenery however remained quite spectacular with a couple of huge sea caves.

The camp site was probably the best of the whole trip being the restaurant garden, grass and adjacent toilets/shower. As with all such sites it came free with the meal.

Distance Covered 21.9km 12.9mi

Day 7

A phone call with Dean elicited the information that Day 7 was to be a “bad” day with rain and high winds. As a result there was just a little pressure to round the final headland before the wind struck. As it turned out the wind never exceeded force 4 and the rain never appeared, although the morning was overcast and threatening.

The highlights of the final day was another huge sea cave, one of the worst lunch spots and the final beers in Datca.

The End

 After meeting, washing, changing and loading we were on our way for the 3.5hr journey to the airport, broken by an excellent and cheap meal. Then after the statutory airport delays we were set for the 4.5hr journey back to Glasgow and home by 3.30am. An excellent trip.

Further Information

We flew Glasgow to Dalaman with Thomas Cook. We found, last year, that the cheapest way is to purchase a self catering package as  a) this is cheaper than the flight only b) provides a first night accommodation and c) provides transfer on arrival. We did not use 6 nights accommodation and the return transfer. Cost with parking at the airport came to around £380 each.

Kayak Equipment and transfer to/from the start/end points was provided by Dean Livesey of Seven Capes www.sevencapes.com. Canoe Equipment (Wilderness Sea Kayaks) is £20 per day. With transfers we paid £205 each.

We took lightweight camping gear and food for the whole trip. At the start we purchased some bread and fruit and 14 litres of water each. There were no shops en route.

Total cost £755 including purchased food and drinks for lunches, coffee/beer, 1 restaurant lunch and 3 restaurant dinners.