We did it! After meticulous planning and tense research to ensure that we complied with all Covid-inspired travel regulations, The Fethiye Times Travel Club (FTTC) launched its inaugural trip on Wednesday 8th July. Suitably distanced and disinfected, two minibuses transported 19 masked guests to Dalyan, to join our host Volkan and his delightful crews where we were disinfected again! A small price to pay for the adventure we were about to have. We travelled in two lovely boats which departed from the town and motored side-by-side downriver, passing beneath the impressive rock-cut cliff tombs of Kaunos before entering the utterly flat and expansive reed sea that is the Dalyan delta. Munching on some delicious biscuits and drinking free tea and coffee, we were on our way!
It’s been some years since Jan and I were last here and we were pleased to see that this area of outstanding beauty remains totally unchanged. For those of you who have never experienced the delights of the Dalyan delta, intricate channels intersect numerous reed-covered islets, the area rich in flora and fauna. The occasional tamarisk tree manages to nudge above the reeds, egrets and storks glide by gracefully and the waters teem with fish and crabs. We even saw a turtle raise its head to check us out as we passed.
Volkan prides himself on providing experiences a little more tailored and individual than the more mainstream tours. He looks for unique locations and unusual combinations of activities to achieve this and had organised a Noon to Moon tour especially for us. Our first stop, just off to one side of the delta itself, was in Çandir Lake for swimming close under a cliff. Here, geothermal activity warms the waters to a very comfortable temperature. The ancient site of Kaunos is visible across the lake from this spot, including its impressive theatre. It was like swimming in a warm bath and the various currents of warm and warmer were a joy to experience in such a magnificent setting and the rumbling of thunder overhead just added to the atmosphere.
We moved on, re-entering the delta and navigating its maze of reedy islets, gliding past the busy landing stages on Iztuzu beach favoured by most daily boat captains and cruising much further on to a quiet location well up the beach where we moored in splendid isolation.
Iztuzu beach protects the delta from the sea like a giant sand bar. On the landward side, the water is fresh, warm and tranquil, but a short stroll through the vegetation and across the beach brings you to the Mediterranean side, a great sweep of sand nearly 5km long and washed with constant breakers. We had plenty of choice in how to occupy ourselves while waiting for our food to be cooked – many of us, by now relaxed and sanguine decided that a nice glass of wine or a cold beer was the way to go.
Some of us took off for a walk down to the sea which is quite refreshingly warm at this time of year but today of all days it was a bit on the choppy side and a little too challenging for a swim! Our location, about halfway along the beach, meant there were very few people around, but this of course, is excellent news for the Loggerhead Turtle. Iztuzu is a major nesting site for this magnificent turtle and we saw any number of their very distinctive tracks in the sand and at least one nest.
The atmosphere on the boats was pleasantly relaxed. Volkan and his crew were attentive, very friendly and professional. I went up to the sharp end to see what was going on and caught a few crabs – the first time since a holiday to Mevagissey in my early twenties! Blue crabs are a speciality here and catching them was easy. Raw chicken skins were weighed down with a few steel nuts and tossed over the side. Crabs are voracious predators and the chicken is an irresistible lunch that descends from above to hit them on their heads. They start feeding and seem oblivious to the fact that they’re now slowly ascending to the surface. A quick swing of a landing net and they’re bagged.
Volkan provided an excellent and varied early-evening supper comprising kofte, chicken breasts, prawns and lamb skewers with a variety of really delicious salads. Later, we had some of the freshly-caught crabs, the white meat tasty and sweet. Bliss.
Feeling pleasantly replete and as the light began to fail, we set sail back up through the delta and straight into rain, would you believe, with thunder rumbling in the distance! Fortunately, it was just a shower and by the time we reached Dalyan town the rain had cleared and continuing upriver, we watched a pretty sunset while sailing towards Köyceğiz Lake. By British standards, this freshwater lake is huge and backed by a lovely panorama of hills. Hugging the bank, we eventually arrived at the Sultaniye Thermal Mud Baths in the dusk.
It was noticeable that only the passengers of one of the boats braved the stinking sulphury mud, while others were far more sensible and decided that another glass of wine was a far preferable option but since it’s many years since Jan and I last visited, we were keen to experience them again. All I can say is, once a mud bath, always a mud bath. We settled into the hot, grey, sticky gloop, noses wrinkling at the strong stench of sulphur, the aroma of brimstone of old and a sure-fire indication that this is definitely a tectonic hotspot. We all know the rumour that a dip in the mud takes ten years off your appearance and I was anxious to put the theory to the test…it didn’t work of course but I recommend a dip as a lovely experience. Sultaniye mud baths can also be reached by taking the lakeshore road out of Köyceğiz and is a fun authentic holiday experience.
Two things I’d like to pass on to you all about sitting chest deep in warm mud. Firstly, it is actually a surprisingly sensuous experience, and secondly, the mud gets everywhere. I mean, everywhere! There are no crevices on the human body immune to incursion, as you may well discover in the following few days after your visit.
After showering off as much mud as possible, we enjoyed a neck-deep bathe in very hot, sulphurous springwater, languishing in true Roman style on a submerged marble seat before returning to the boats. Plates of refreshing fruit were served before we departed. Now fully dark, Volkan turned off all the lights on the return voyage across the lake so we could enjoy the inky star-studded night sky.
Our modest flotilla finally arrived back in Dalyan at just after 10pm, and the two buses whisked our tired but happy band back to Fethiye in short order. The first FTTC excursion was over and everyone had thoroughly enjoyed their day.
Note: If you indulge in the mud baths, and we recommend you do because it’s squidgy heaven – remove all silver jewellery beforehand. Silver reacts with the suphurous water to create silver sulphide. This is black in colour and tarnishes jewellery, but can be removed later by polishing. Volkan’s crew were very adept at rectifying the damage done – they had plainly had to resuscitate silver jewellery in the past!
Oh, yes, and finally, if you have been luxuriating in those steaming sulphurous waters like some indolent Roman senator, you’ll be exuding a mildly noxious and suspect vapour all the way home. This may encourage people to discreetly move away from your immediate vicinity, misconstruing your stinky rotten egg aroma for something else entirely…
Grateful thanks go to our registered TÜRSAB transfer service operated safely and efficiently by MAVI GUL TURIZM and of course to the marvellous team at VOLKAN’S ADVENTURES who made our very first Fethiye Times Travel Club adventure a resounding success.
Written for Fethiye Times by Mike Vickers and Jan Jones.
Owned by Volkan Hacıgümüş, Volkan’s Adventures have been running tours-with-a-difference since 2014.
Volkan’s Adventures is a unique tour company offering exclusive tours in and around Dalyan, Turkey. They specialise in small groups and trips with a difference, taking their guests on enjoyable and unique adventures.
Discover the beauty of Turkey
Volkan and his friendly, multi lingual, team have extensive knowledge of Dalyan and Turkey and will take you on adventures where you can connect with the Turkish people, immerse yourself in the culture, gaze upon stunning landscapes, see the local wildlife and enjoy delicious Turkish food.
Experience a different side to Dalyan and the surrounding areas.
New for 2020
Volkan’s Adventures introduce new, innovative and exciting tours every season to add excitement to your holiday. Have a look at what they are planning for 2020.
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