With international flights into Dalaman daily, there are plenty of great opportunities for those who want to visit Fethiye, have a holiday and enjoy the natural beauty of a resplendent Turkish spring (early summer) and make the most of this wonderful, if brief, season.
It is also the perfect time for people who live in Turkey to explore some of the amazing and unspoilt countryside just a short boat trip from Fethiye’s busy town centre.
Spring into action
Many Turkish and foreign visitors coming to Fethiye at this time of year are looking for active holidays rather than sunbathing on the beaches, even though they are not at all crowded at the moment.
Explore off the beaten track and it’s easy to find places and sights frequently missed by summer visitors.
Make the region’s more remote but nonetheless splendid historic and natural environment your focus and you won’t be disappointed.
We spent a few days on a traditional wooden gulet to explore the glorious coastal hills of the Kapıdağ peninsula on the western side of the Gulf of Fethiye, beyond Göcek.
An orchid paradise
Turkey in general, and the Muğla region in particular, has justifiable pride in the many varieties of orchids that bloom in the unspoilt rural areas of the countryside.
It is estimated that Turkey is home to more than 200 species of this wonderful wild flower, some of which are becoming increasingly rare, and others at risk of extinction. It therefore goes without saying that picking or worse still, uprooting orchids is not permitted under any circumstances: only go armed with a camera.
In the morning sunshine we navigated the calm waters of the Gulf of Fethiye, heading past Şövalye Island and then Red Island (Kızılada) for the first destination, the idyllic bay of Ağa Liman. Over the course of the three-day adventure we visited some of Kapıdağ Peninsula’s most heavenly bays, many of which are still empty.
Unspoiled nature on our doorstep
From each mooring we walked into the hinterland of this unspoiled corner of Muğla; historians believe that two thousand years ago Kapıdağ Peninsula was more populated than it is today. The rugged hillsides and pastures are now home to just a few shepherd families and their goats, sheep and donkeys. This is due to the fortuitous lack of road access to the peninsula; most visitors arrive from the sea. We say, long may it stay like this.
Walking under the cool, peaceful forest canopy and sunny open hillsides with only the sound of the goats’ bells to break the silence, we came across many orchids in bloom and record the moment for posterity – with our cameras.
We have to keep constant watch at where we are walking… orchids are often hidden under the taller grasses and care must be taken at all times not to squash or damage them in any way. It takes a while to spot them amongst the rock strewn pastures, hidden as they are among the masses of other colourful spring flowers, so concentration is essential and as we all know, some of us are more observant than others!
Clambering across hillsides, orchid spotting and investigating the awesome Lycian tombs (they certainly knew where to pick a perfect spot), we also relish the atmosphere of the Roman and Byzantine buildings.
Watching the sunrise
We watch the amazing sunrise (see headline photo) before tucking into a tasty Turkish breakfast. Then another day of trekking begins.
Cleopatra evidently used to bathe here! So did we…
We found that three days and two nights provided a perfect balance of relaxation and activity in what can only be described as a truly wonderful and unforgettable weekend.
None of the treks in these areas are overly difficult, or last for more than half a day, and the weather is usually warm enough to go for a bracing swim!
There are many comfortable and economical sleep aboard gulets in Fethiye with owners that are only too happy to organise this kind of break, especially at this time of year.
We can’t recommend adventures like this too highly.
Author: Jane Atakay