Flames from rocks? An opportunity for a free BBQ at this unique site!

The Lycian coast is a wonderfully scenic area full of ancient settlements, breathtaking views with a mountainous back drop of the snow – caped mountains. But the area also contains other treasures that highlight its unique geological status. The Chimeara is one such example. Fissures in the rock allow a flammable gas to reach the surface and combust into a wonderful light show.

On a recent road trip we decided to visit this wonder for ourselves. Unfortunately, the map we were using was a bit vague as to the exact location of the Chimaera and led us from the main road into the village of Olympos. If you haven’t heard of Olympos village before then you’ve never been a backpacker and sampled the numerous so called tree houses that crowd the shaded river side down to the sea. Whilst the backpacker guide books trumpet the tree houses as a unique experience and one of the great places to stay we think ‘sheds on legs’ is a more apt name to describe these rooms that are constructed from rough wood and pallets. Still, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. When we visited the season was yet to begin and the air was full of the sound of hammers and saws as the hotel owners were busy reconstructing the wooden huts after winter damage.  It was hard to believe that this place would be choc-a-block with backpackers in only a few months time.

{mosimage}We parked our car next to one of the tree house complexes and made our way to the sea. We passed a few bars that were open and heard the sound of American backpackers chatting about their experiences to date. We arrived at the entrance to the ruins, paid 2 YTL entrance fee each and we walked down the narrow path, past ruins and some well preserved graves and arrived on the beach. The sandy beach  is beautiful and sweeps to the left and carries on as far as the eye can se e . In the distance we saw the village of Cirali, that was where we wanted to be!

We walked back and asked one of the guys hanging around near to a tree house complex how we could get to the Chimaera but he was more interested in getting us to stay in one of his ‘sheds on legs’. ‘Stay with me, only 30 YTL a night, dinner and breakfast included’. We’ll run you along to the Chimaera if you want – no problem’. We hung around for a cup of tea but this wasn’t a place we wanted to stay. You see up until this point we had been rough camping and the thought of paying to stay somewhere wasn’t in our plan for ‘Turkey on the Cheap!’ So, we made our apologies and jumped in the car and made our way back up to the main road.

{mosimage}The turn off for Cirali is only around a kilometre further along the main road and we soon arrived at the village by the sea. We found a place to camp on the beach (for free) and with about an hour before the sun was about to set, packed a picnic and torch for our journey up to the Chimaera.

Just before we set off we bumped in a lady and started chatting about our plan. She said the walk from the village is a bit boring and, as we had a car, it was better to drive to the start of the path and walk from there. We did, paid our 2.25 YTL each, and started the  steep 800 metre  climb . The path is steeply stepped but we soon saw the orange flames in the distance higher up. We arrived at the top and were amazed at the number of flames coming from the rocks –  we counted 14 in total. After taking a few photos we picked a suitable flame and sat down next to it whilst the sun set behind us. The sky slowly darkened and the light from the flames began to illuminate the area with orange light. Time for sucuk! So the wine was opened and the sucuk was soon cooked on the flames – a free BBQ!

{mosimage}We sat for around an hour and mesmerized by the multitude of flames and chatted about what the ancients must have thought about this amazing place. We also wondered if the rumours we had heard that the flames could not be extinguished were true. Well the results of our experiment discounted that rumour as a half litre of water poured directly onto the flame did in fact put it out! Worried that we had now destroyed one Turkey’s ancient wonders we quickly threw a lit match at the hole where the gas was escaping and it whooshed back into full flame taking some of the hairs on my head with it too. Serves me right I suppose!

The sky was now black apart from the amazing night sky and the moon was yet to rise. It was time to return to our tent on the beach. We turned on our two torches and made our way back down the now treacherous path to our car. What a night – what a BBQ!

How to get there

The Chimaera is located near to Cirali just off the main 400 road between Kumluca and Kemer. Take the turning signposted to Cirali/Chimaera NOT Olympus. Cirali is about 7km from this road.

Where to stay

There is a wide range of accommodation available in Cirali ranging from the top dollar Olympos Lodge down to camping sites and so called tree houses (yes they are here too but not in such great numbers). You can even camp for free at the top of the beach if you are up for it.

When to go

We visited out of season and almost had the place to ourselves which was great for taking in the ambience of the place. However, in high season expect the area to be very busy and full of backpackers.