A holiday to Fethiye, Kas or Kalkan would be incomplete without a visit to the amazing ‘must-see’ natural attraction of Saklıkent Gorge, or Saklıkent Kanyon in Turkish (Pronounced Sack-luh-kent in Turkish).
Saklıkent Gorge is an amazing natural feature near to Fethiye where you can experience cold water and cool air even on the hottest days of the year.
The gorge and surrounding areas were turned into a National Park in 1996. The park covers an area of 1,643 hectares and is also noted for its rich flora.
The total length of the gorge is not stated by the National Park authority but around 4km of the canyon is accessible to able walkers.
Open All Year
You can make a trip to the entrance of the gorge at any time of the year but it is only open to the public during the summer. Most people will visit during the popular summer months in any case when there are the added advantages of cooler air, icy cold water and lower water levels.
The gorge entrance has been modernised by the National Park Authority in recent years and now features a spacious car park, purpose built gift shops and clean toilets.
There are also restaurants on the other side of the river complete with platforms built over the river making an ideal place for a relaxing drink or snack. The restaurants also offer ‘tree house’ accommodation for those who want a bed for the night.
Saklıkent Canyon is managed under a five-year contract run by the Fethiye Tourism Union.
Pay at the hut, obtain a token, put it in the turnstile (assuming they are working) and then head along the suspended walk way.
Enter the Gorge
After a short walk the walkway leads to an open space where water rushes out from the rocks forming a fast and cold river. There are some places to sit and rest if you do not want to go any further.
If you want to explore the 4km or more of walk-able gorge you will firstly need to cross the river.
Able bodied and confident types will find the crossing a challenge even in the summer when the water is lower because of the uneven river bed and strength of the flow.
Even in summer the water will come up to an adults knees. It could be easy for a child or adult to be washed off their feet by the flow so if you cannot swim or want to be super-safe wear a bouyancy aid.
Those less confident or less able shouldn’t worry though as they can always get the help of one of the many helpers strategically located by the river – in return for a small tip or course.
Once the river has been crossed the roar of the river and the screams of the visitors soon become no more as the gorge leads you on.
How far you dare to explore depends on you…
What to Wear – Safety First
Swimming gear is best as you will get wet.
It is essential that you wear secure foot wear for crossing the fast flowing river. Make sure the footwear fits securely to your feet otherwise it may be washed away! Jelly shoes can be hired.
Hard hats can also be hired. As the comment from a recent visitor below states there is a risk of falling rocks so wearing a good quality hard hat could save a brusie or worse.
Bouyancy aid. Again if you cannot swim, are a weak swimmer or nervous about crossing the fast flowing river wear a bouyancy aid to keep you afloat should you fall into the water and be taken away by the current.
What Will It Cost?
2014 Fees and Charges are clearly posted at the entrance. The entrance fee is around 5 TL.
As you ‘will’ get wet make sure cameras, mobile phones, car keys and the like are wrapped up so that they are waterproof and secure.
Check the Weather before You Go
On Sunday 20th July 2014 a flash flood occurred after a heavy rain storm fell on the mountains above the gorge. The water levels inside the gorge quickly rose. Two visitors died and others were injured. You can read the full story here Torrential Rain Leaves One Dead and Tourists Stranded in Popular Gorge Attraction
Such an event is rare but it does make sense to check the weather forecast carefully before visiting the gorge.
How to Get There
Due to its location some 40km outside of Fethiye it makes sense to combine a trip to the gorge with one of more of the nearby ancient sites at Patra, Letoon, Xanthos, Tlos, and Sidyma.
By Mini Bus
A regular dolmuş service leaves Fethiye and can be flagged down on the road leaving Fethiye towards Karacula/Antalya . Look for the sign Saklıkent on the front window of the bus. The trip takes less than an hour.
Take the D400 main highway towards Antalya. At the Kemer roundabout continue straight on for about 1km. After the bridge turn right following signs for Saklıkent/Tlos. The road is wide enough for two cars for the majority of the way but watch out for the bridge crossings where the road narrows. After about 20km and after driving through a few villages you will see many road side cafes. Drive on until you reach the main car park some 2km later next to the river.
Various companies offer organised excursions to the canyon as part of longer day trips. Check at your local resort for more information and prices.
Common Misinformation About the Gorge
Some stuff you may read on other websites which is wrong include:
“That it is the second largest gorge in Europe” – Wrong. The gorge is actually situated on the Asian Continent.
“That it was discovered by locals in the 1980’s” – We are sure the locals knew about this well before the 1980’s. In any case it was turned into a National Park in 1996.
“The walls of the canyon are so steep that the sun cannot reach the floor” – Yes, but that’s because in many places rock falls have created tunnels. If you go at the right time of day the sun does reach the river bed where the sky can be seen.