Turkey is a mountainous country with beautiful scenery and large areas of unspoiled countryside, which are wonderful natural preserves for the extraordinary variety of wildlife, flora and fauna.
The mountainous nature of the country has had a strong influence on its cultural evolution. For centuries, nomads and semi-nomadic peoples have lived here and migrated annually with their livestock to the fresh pastures of the mountains and hills around. These alpine meadows, or yayla, still represent a firm tie to traditional culture.
Trekking allows you to get away from the crowds and discover the true beauty of Turkey – the friendly villagers, remote historic sites and stunning scenery. Serious climbers will probably want to explore Turkey’s rich interior and mountainous east but even by walking a short distance inland from some of the busiest coastal resorts, it can feel as if you are in a different world.
Turkey has two official long distance footpaths, the Lycian Way, listed by the Sunday Times as one of the worlds top ten walks, and the newer St Paul Trail.
The Lycian Way is a 540km way-marked footpath around the coast from Fethiye to Antalya. It takes its name from the ancient civilisation which once ruled the area, the most visible reminders of which are the carved rock tombs which can be seen throughout the region. This section of the coastline is stunning with wooded mountains rising steeply from the shore affording fantastic views and making for varied walking conditions. The route also goes past many of the more remote historic sites. The route is graded medium to hard; it is not level walking, but has many ascents and descents as it approaches and veers away from the sea. It is easier at the start near Fethiye and gets more difficult as it progresses. It is recommended that you walk the route in spring or autumn; February-May or September-November. Summer in Lycia is hot, although you could walk short, shady sections. The route is mainly over footpaths and mule trails; it is mostly over limestone and often hard and stony underfoot.
Highlights of the Lycian Way
Spectacular walks on the slopes of Babadağ, beneath the flight path of the paragliders descending to Ölüdeniz.
Stunning descent to Faralya, above the cliffs of Butterfly Valley.
The 22km long beach at Patara.
Spectacular views over the coast from above Kaş and Kalkan.
The castle, harbour and sunken ruins at Kekova
The church of the Angel Gabriel in the hills above Myra.
Fabulous ridge top walk to Finike.
Staying at the lighthouse at Cape Gelidonya.
Climbing Mount Olympus – 2388m.
Splashing in the canyon at Göynük.
St Paul Trail
The St Paul Trail is a newer way-marked footpath leading from Perge, 10km east of Antalya, to Yalvaç, NE of Lake Eğirdir. There is a second branch starting at Aspendos, 40km east of Antalya and joining the first route at the Roman site of Adada. The route totals about 500km. This route partly follows the one walked by St Paul on his first missionary journey in Asia Minor. It starts at sea level and climbs up to 2200m, with two optional peaks at around 2800m. Although the St Paul Trail is slightly wilder than the Lycian Way, it is also higher and cooler in the summer. The trip has varied and enjoyable walking days, some of which take you to ridge and peak tops, while others pass through forests, fields and ancient villages.
The town of Sütcüler, in the first part of the walk, was an important administrative centre during Ottoman times. There is an old mosque from that period in the town centre and ruins from the Roman times on a nearby hill. Ancient pilgrimage routes ran through the adjacent gorges and the area was known as Bavul, after St Paul. The second part of the walk takes you over the shoulder of Mt Davras (2635m) and across the İsparta plain for two days trekking in the Barla mountains. You have an option to climb Gelincik Dağı (2799m) and Mt Kaymaz (2250m). Stay in Barla before moving on to the lakeside town of Eğirdir for an ascent of Sivri Dağı, with time to take a Turkish bath (hamam) or swim in the lake.
Highlights of the St Paul Trail
The Aksu river crossing and the waterfalls at Uçansu
The huge pines and firs on the route above Oren
The views from the route above the Çandır canyon
The Roman road at Adada
Staying on the island in Lake Eğirdir and crossing the lake by fishing boat
The beautiful village of Beydili
Following a Roman aqueduct into Yalvaç
For further information on these walks, visit www.lycianway.com