Turkey Jeep Safari and More

Turkey Jeep Safari and More
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The Mediterranean region of Turkey is a true eye opener—gorgeous scenery, interesting natural attractions and friendly locals… and by far the best way to see all this region has to offer is by joining a jeep safari

Turkey is a bit of a conundrum, really—it has been called the gateway to Asia, is sometimes classed as being in the Middle East, and, at other times, lumped in along with the rest of Europe. This confusion is somewhat understandable when you consider that Turkey shares its borders with no less than eight other countries, namely: Greece and Bulgaria to the west, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran to the east, and Syria and Iraq to the south.

The Mediterranean coast has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers, and mild winters and when I visited in August, temperatures were in the region of 40° Celsius each day—for the first time in my life I wore factor thirty sunblock, and still got a terrific tan!

The jeep safari is a well-known attraction in Turkey and on any given day there can be between one to twenty jeeps per safari company, of which there are five operating in the area, I believe. The jeep safari company collected us (myself and my three friends) from our hotel and took us to a central meeting point where all the guests for the day were allocated space in specific jeeps; this allocation depended on whether a guest was going as a driver or non-driver (some guests wish to drive themselves and their families, while others are more than happy to sit back and enjoy the ride, with someone else driving…I am one of the latter!).


And then, in convoy (and with all hands on horns, it was truly deafening but quite exhilarating too) the safari got underway. After about twenty minutes drive up into the “mountains” we had a briefing session by our guide Semih (pronounced ‘Sammy’) overlooking some spectacular rock tombs in the ancient city of Tlos. We did not visit this example of an ancient settlement—we were told we would be visiting another ancient city later on the tour—but headed straight on to first stop: The Yakapark Trout Farm, or Bolok farm. Bolok is the Turkish name for fish and as you can imagine everyone found it very amusing when we were told that we would see “big boloks, small boloks, and the David Beckham golden boloks.”

This was where we had our first breakfast of traditional Turkish pancakes (Gozleme) before jumping back into the jeeps and heading off to the Saklikent Gorge. Saklikent means “hidden valley” in Turkish and this gorge is the third longest gorge in Europe at 18km long. It was formed after an earthquake and is so steep and narrow in some places that the sun does not penetrate the water, which is absolutely freezing as a result, even in these high temperatures. There are several restaurant areas suspended above the water (river) and the whole area, although somewhat commercialized, still remains quaint and pretty—I loved it there.


We were able to walk into the gorge along the 150 meters of wooden walkway and even further, if we wished, into the actual gorge. This was very tricky as access is gained through icy cold, very fast flowing water although in some places the water was quite shallow and there is also safety rope to hold onto while crossing.

We also had our lunch at one of the restaurants—a choice of meatballs, trout, pancakes or chicken kebab, all offered with salad from the self-service salad bar and included in the original price for the jeep safari, which as far as I can remember was around £25 or $44.

Upon leaving Saklikent we drove down to the mudflats for the eagerly awaited mud bath. As our guide told us, it would take ten years off our age—an idea that was met with much appreciation by the women in the group! The men, however, only really perked up a little when they were told its amazing healing properties also helped with baldness! Needless to say, these were little “white lies” but it was such fun I don’t think anyone minded very much…

After washing off in the freezing river (it runs down from the gorge!) we piled back into the jeeps and headed off to the ancient Lycian city of Xanthos (pronounced Santos). This was once the site of the capital city of Lycia and dates back to at least the 8th Century BC. It was amazing to see the amphitheater, pillar tombs and even the mosaics left from the Byzantine period. Xanthos was made famous to the Western world in the 19th century by its British discoverer Charles Fellows, and some parts of the tombs have been removed to the British Museum in London. The city stands atop an elevated area of the Xanthos valley where the Esen (pronounced ‘Eshen’) river flows below. The surrounding area is simply spectacular and I almost felt like it wasn’t real, like it was just a mirage.


From Xanthos we made our way to the next stop—Patara beach, which is also known as Turtle Beach. Apparently the turtles come out at night and lay their eggs in the sand in order to preserve these eggs we left the jeeps at the entrance to the beach and walked onto the sand. Patara is the longest beach on Turkey’s coast, around 20 km, and there is not a single building on the entire stretch of beach. This beach is good for swimming and even those who were not confident in the water were able to paddle as there is a huge sand shelf under the water, and I was told it extends to some 70 meters.

Alas, our time on the beach came to an end all too soon. We packed up and headed off for the last stop of the day. This stop was basically a rest stop before the long drive back to Fethiye, and then on to our hotels. It was also the place where the jeeps were washed after a day in the dust and open air. We were also able to swim at this stop, as it was a gas station with an enormous swimming pool and restaurant area. Quite a unique, if not necessary, concept, I have to say.

The drive back to Fethiye was not nearly as inspiring as the drive to the various stops as we drove back along the tarred motorway. I had grown used to driving through the beautiful Turkish countryside, waving at all the local children who rushed out to wave at us and shout “hello,” some of them barely old enough to walk. They were so adorable that I wanted to take many of them home with me!

After roughly eight hours in an open jeep we were all a little wind-blown and completely exhilarated at our day’s adventure. We had covered roughly 188km during the day and although that sounds a fair distance, the day flew by and I was very sorry when it ended…so sorry, in fact, that I rebooked and did it all again the next day!