Paddlers: Geoff, Hugh and Ken
Route: We chose the only extensive length of the coast within driving distance of Dalaman Airport and our kayak supplier, that we had not paddled in previous years. This ran from Marmaris to Gocek and proved to be equally exciting with spectacular cliff scenery.
Weather: 6 days of sunshine with temperatures at around 26c. Nights cool enough to sleep (21C). Sea breezes kept us cool but picked up in the afternoon to add a little challenge to the kayaking.
Day 1: Arrived at Dalaman at 10.30pm local time after 4 .5hr flight and with 2hr time shift. Met by Dean (supplier) and travelled to Icmeler (near Marmaris) for night in small hotel. After a couple of beers, bed by 02:30.
Day 2: After breakfast and some shopping for supplies (notably 30 litre of water) we set off for our launch point in Marmaris.
The previous days storm was working itself out and the first, short, paddle back to Icmeler for launch was quite bumpy.
After lunch the wind dropped and we headed out of Marmaris Bay for the wild coast of this part of Turkey.
Beaches and camp sites are not frequent and getting one at the right time is always problematic. The first night we found a long shingle beach backed by a pine forest. Within the forest were a couple of clearings with the remnants of what appeared to be bee hives and temporary habitations. The sites were dirty but we had little choice and pitched whilst making our fire and doing the cooking on the shingle.
A big problem was a major leak into the rear compartment of Geoff’s boat. This appeared to be coming from the top of the skeg box where the wire went through the hull and an earlier repair had failed. The combined weight of the paddler, camp equipment and supplies for a week coupled with the rough water in the morning had led to significant incursions which got progressively worse as more water got into the rear compartment. The best repair seemed to be taping up the whole box.
Day 3: Dawn was around 7am and was normally the best part of the day, cool, calm and beautiful.
We normally got up around 7.30 (some earlier) and got afloat between 8.30 and 9. This day, however, we were much later. To avoid any contact with the Turkish Navy, whose main base is in the next bay to Marmaris,we headed out towards the island of Yilancik Ada.
Landings were rough and upon inspection of Geoff’s boat found that the tape had become damaged and water was again entering the boat. Further repair included a cane buffer over the tape to try and absorb any impact with rocks. With regular inspection and re-taping this worked for the rest of the trip.
Back to the mainland and the exceptional cliff and cave scenery.
The next camp site was on a long isolated beach. To the west it was shingle backed by a pine forest but the eastern end was sandy and open. As on the previous day there were clearings in the pine forest and deserted hives. There were also wild donkeys and evidence of larger animals (cows and wild boars). A golden eagle circled overhead. Remarkably for such a large flat area there were no tracks and no evidence of permanent habitation. Apart from sand everywhere the camp site was very pleasant (and wood for the fire plentiful).
Day 4: Another glorious morning.
And onwards. The coast was wonderful, with huge limestone cliffs, stacks, caves and arches.
Turtle Beach is a long sand beach that crosses the wide Dalyan valley. The river up to Dalyan is restricted to local passenger boats that bring people from the town to the beach. It is apparently possible to use the waterway before 10am but we opted to simply paddle along. The beach is an internationally protected zone for turtles (Green and Loggerhead) and unknown to us, the public is not allowed in the area between 8pm and 8am. This restriction is not obvious and we paddled to the far end, close to dusk. A suitable site in a picnic areas was identified and we started to erect the tents only to be accosted by a man in uniform with a whistle. After trying to explain we could not go on because of lack of landing places and darkness falling he summoned an English speaker who managed to explain our predicament and get us permission to stop . The conditions were no fires or lights, kayaks completely off the beach area and an early departure (8.15am) , so we had a rather bleak early night.
Day 5 The day started with some of the best limestone scenery in the world.
This was followed by a 5 mile sand beach that started in a hilly area at Sangerme Park which consisted of four expensive hotel complexes. We had expected beach bars but everybody was apparently on an “all inclusive” holiday (which included all water sports and food/drink). The reps at the German hotel, having explained that there was no where we could get a cup of coffee or beer, provided one free.
The main beach is the end of Dalaman airport and is dirty and bleak, with no facilities. After lunch at the east end we were back to the cliffs searching for a camp site/beach. At this stage we came across one of the best caves of the trip
Hugh had identified potential landing spots and camp sites from examining Google Earth. Some of these were impossible but generally they were OK as in the next case, a small bay on the south side of a high saddle at the end of Gocek Bay.
The evening ushered in the most spectacular of sunsets and another superb fire.
Day 6 The good weather had resulted in a calm trip . Rounding headlands however is always slightly problematic because exposure to the ever present swell generates clapotis. On day 6 we rounded the final cape to go into the more sheltered Bay of Fethiye. Again there were no troubles although there was a very slight tide race at the point
The paddle into the islands to our lunch stop seemed to take a long time and after a prolonged break the wind had got up from the south giving us a tough final couple of hours to our final camp site which were some small terraces adjacent to a small restaurant catering for yachties.
Day 7 The final day involved a 12mile trip through the islands to the village of Gocek. This bay was probably the least interesting scenically and undoubtedly the busiest in terms of craft. Every inlet had a minimum of two or three boats and if there was a cafe and pontoon a more usual number was 20-30. Whereas 5 years ago most of the boats had either been yachts or gulets (local boats catering for tourists) now the area was awash with huge motor cruisers, many U.S. flagged. Including those tied up in the marinas in Gocek, boat numbers in this tiny section of our trip must have run into thousands. The biggest of all, flying the red ensign, was Delbar; owned by a Russian billionaire.
We arrived in Gocek mid afternoon, time for a beer and an ice cream before meeting Dean for the trip back to the airport.
The airport journey and check in were uneventful, flights were on time and we were back home by 2.30am. An excellent trip.
Cost: Flights £300, Kayak Hire and airport transport £200, Meals, Beers, Airport Parking etc £150. Total £650
Distance Covered: 150km (95miles). The most we paddled any day was only 14.5Nm (18miles)