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Paddlers: Hugh, Geoff, Steve W.
Weather: Warm/Hot, Sunny, Light Winds, Dry (in fact superb!)
Location: Bay of Fethiye and Seven Capes area of Turquoise Coast in Southern Turkey
Getting There: The journey was straightforward and on time. We left Helensburgh at 11.30 for a 14:00 plane to Dalaman arr 20:20 (Turkish time) and Taxi to Lykia Park Airport Hotel for a night’s sleep and pickup the following day.
Day 1: After an excellent breakfast,at 9am Dean (the kit supplier) took us down to Gocek, a sailing centre at the west end of the Bay of Fethiye. The original Gocek-Marmaris plan had been abandoned in favour of a route done some 8 years earlier around the islands in the bay and then down the wonderful but exposed 7 Capes to Potara.
A fire was lit and we settled down to bread, cheese and non-alcoholic beverages before turning in early.
Distance Covered: 19km
Our next port of call was a pristine sand beach and a cafe opposite the ruins.
The swim was excellent, the coffee better and the toilets superlative. Strongly recommended if you have lots of time but we were hoping to make it most of the way across the gulf to Karak Adansi and left a little late. En route we stopped at the Migros boat/shop to try and get some wine. Sadly it was all committed to the cafes that surround this area.
We pushed on only to come to a dead stop when the back of Hugh’s boat sank beneath the waves. An emergency stop was made on a six metre long by half metre mix of rock and shingle. The “filling” of the skeg box (rubber and mastic) had come away and the hole at the top of the box (where the skeg cable enters the boat) was taking in water. If the sea is calm and the back light, the water does not get to the top of the box but sadly, in this case, it did. The boat was emptied of water and the skeg area taped, and off we went again, with the proviso we would stop on a decent size beach to dry out and check the taping.
Just across the next channel Hugh identified a slit in the cliff which he remembered as an impressive cave, filled with bats. Wildlife is scarce throughout the area presumably because of the heat and dryness. Bats were unusual as was the turtle that came up to the boats at one stage. On odd occasions we saw Feral Goats , large sea birds and raptors but sightings were very limited.
After the cave we were looking seriously for a beach but in the end had to go back to a camp site we knew , close to the cafe of the previous day. Here we stopped after a short day, put up the tents and set about trying to secure the boat from water ingress.
During our stay we were visited by a large (30 strong) herd of goats but they were harmless if over-friendly. The evening ended once again around a fire gossiping.
Distance Covered 16km
Another beautiful day with a wonderful view. Completion of the planned trip meant trying to make up some time so a decision was made to cut straight across the gulf, about 20km. Although it was very exposed and there was a big swell coming in from the south, there was little wind so that when we reached the other side we just continued south. At this point the cliffs became quite huge and there were simply no places to stop.
Fortunately just before we were due to reach the first serious water at the Cape there is an inlet with a tiny beach at its end.
After lunch and a swim we embarked on what proved to be the “crux” of the trip. A large swell from the south-west had been with us since we started and increased in size as we moved out of the Gulf. We believe it was the product of the hurricane that had come through the Aegean the previous Friday. Whatever the cause the product was really rough water as we passed the Cape, hence an absence of photographs! That said with relatively light wind and warm sea it was enjoyable rather than frightening and after 20 minutes or so we were round and riding the swell. What this period of turbulence did do however, was to periodically submerge the back and then front of the boat, causing any holes at the top of the skeg housing to become submerged and the rear hatch to start filling with water.
Time was running out when we returned to the boats and headed for the beach at the road end at Gemile. On the beach they were filming a Turkish comedy involving water sports so we wandered along to the cafe at the other end of the beach for another beer and to investigate the camp site. Eventually we agreed just to camp on the beach and just as darkness fell started pitching only to discover that Geoff’s tent was floating in a three-quarter full back hatch. Not happy; on sand with every bit of the tent, in and out, wet; no light; and physically tired after a long day and three beers. Ten minutes, lots of swearing and able assistance from all and things were back on track with a meal, beer and a chat with the watersport locals by the fire in their shelter.
Distance Covered 35km
Gemile Island lies just opposite the beach and was an important Christian Orthodox monastery dedicated to St Nicolas (Father Xmas) who was born locally. On the island there are the ruins of 5 churches dating between 400 and 700 AD. The most impressive feature, apart from the staggering views, is a processional colonnade that runs up the hill from the north-west.
St Nicolas Island is awe-inspiring, incredibly old (the Romans had just left Britain when it was being built) and really neglected. Turkey has so many ancient ruins (see previous reports) it simply does not have enough money to deal with them. In this case the very limited preservation work is being funded by a Japanese archaeological group.
The next planned stop was the resort town of Oludeniz for resupply and, if possible tape for the boats. However half way along a coastgaurd rib drew up and proceeded to interrogate us in Turkish. Finally they resorted to a smart phone and a translation system to tell us to be careful and not to go too far out. Why this was necessary is a matter of conjecture but our feeling is that perhaps we had been spotted rounding the cape the day before and somebody had phoned in their worries.
Oludeniz is an extremely attractive beach resort with a lovely lagoon and an excellent beach. The town itself is mainly cafes, many of which are orientated to the British visitor with football on the TV and English Breakfasts everywhere. Behind it the limestone mountains rise precipitously and provide a unique feature; hundreds of hang gliders launching from a platform close to the top. At any time there can be 40 or 50 hang gliders in the air descending to the promenade in the town. As with food and accommodation the cost of the flight (£45) is less than half the cost of a similar flight in Austria or Switzerland.
After a fruitless long hot walk through town looking for tape, we set off again heading east for Butterfly Valley and if time allowed for Kabak. Once again there were towering cliffs and small coves (some with houses perched above them) and the occasional sea cave to explore.
Eight years ago we had stayed in the holiday commune at Kiribak. This still exists but a much smarter complex of cafe, camp site and bungalows has sprung up right on the beach. After landing, a beer and the appropriate investigation we decided on the B&B solution at 100TL (£13) and were rewarded with a lovely bungalow with a balcony looking down towards the beach where we could cook, eat and drink red wine. Plus there was a superb hot water shower and another lovely sunset. Life was good..
Distance Covered 19km
The breakfast was amazing. In addition to a pile of newly cooked bread there was butter, 2 sorts of cheese, 2 sorts of olives, tomato, cucumber, honey, peanut butter, a sweet date based type of jam and as much coffee and tea as required. In addition there was a plate of fried potatoes with frankfurters and 2 eggs each. Quite the best B&B ever.
After re-taping with the last of the tape (which took the best part of an hour) and a small prayer to the sea-god that it would survive the final two days, we headed off again towards the next inlet and paradise beach.
By this time beaches had virtually disappeared and we were looking for a small length of pebbles and a gulley. The first stop suggested we had found a place only to be ruled out by closer inspection of the awful map. Eventually we found our site, a small pebbly beach, a rock strewn gulley and a couple of flat terraces. With food and fire on beach and tents on terraces we settled in for an excellent final night.
Distance Covered 16km
The final challenge was a surf wave at the entrance of the Patora river, which was duly conquered. At the final beach (freshwater!) was the cafe for beer and food and a short wait for our lift back to the airport.
Distance Covered 19km
A trouble-free 2 hour trip back to Dalaman for coffee and cake and then on to the airport by 20:20 for the 22:00 plane back to Glasgow arriving at 00:20 UK time. A quick exit and we were home about 01:30.
Another wonderful trip to a wonderful part of the world. We covered some 124km and had a dozen swims on a dozen different beaches. Temperatures at sea and at night were near perfect. Total Cost, including lots of beer, meals on the plane and in cafes plus two hotel “bed-nights” and airport parking was around £730. Tremendous value.