Carian Trail Sections
The Carian Trail can be broken into several sections.
The road passes through the outskirts of Marmaris and resort of İçmeler then disappears twisting up into pine forested mountains.
The Bozburun peninsula is situated in the south west corner of Turkey, its wild and rugged beauty are a breath of fresh air after the mass tourism of Marmaris. The sparsely populated peninsula is home to less than twenty thousand inhabitants. The small town of Bozburun is the administrative centre of the region and famous for traditional boat building. Its sheltered bays and inlets are home to many craft during the winter months when they are hauled on land and propped up on wooden supports for repair and overhaul. In summer boats of all shapes and sizes can be seen at anchor or tied up at the harbor fronts all over the peninsula.
The top half of the peninsula is mountainous and forested with steep slopes rising from sheltered coastal inlets. Travelling south, the forest gives way to a barren rocky landscape with scattered ruins half submerged or hill top fortifications protecting hidden valleys’ and sheltered ports.
For the walker the remoteness is ripe for exploration. With a lack of roads the old trails and paths have been cleaned to access every viewpoint across the sea to the Greek islands of Symi and Rhodes. The Trail routes through a diversity of terrain with many changes of scenery and magical views round every corner. There are many traditional villages making a living from the rugged landscape along with coastal villages catering for the demands of tourism.
The Datça region stretches along a narrow peninsula to its western extremity of Cape Crio where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean sea. The isthmus is also known as the Reşadiye Peninsula, from the beginning of the twentieth century honouring the penultimate Ottoman sultan Mehmed V Reşad. Reşadiye is also a village close to the main town of Datça. Apart from the main town of Datça this mountaineous slither of land is scarcely populated.
Much of the peninsula is protected and the maquis forests rising from the northern shores are home to many ‘dağ keçesi’ wild mountain goats and endemic plant species. With its numerous bays and secluded coves untouched by development, under sail has been the most popular way to explore the dramatic coastline.
This walking section starts from Datça heading south and west along rugged coastal headlands to the ancient city of Knidos and Deveboynu lighthouse at the end of the cape. The view looks across to The Greek Islands of the Dodecanese. Turning east along the mostly uninhabited northern shore the trail passes Sedir ısland of Cleopatra fame. Heading inland the trail continues down a tree lined avenue of tall Eucalyptos trees and past an ancient tomb of Idyamos to the charming resort of Akyaka.
As well as being famous for its three B’s Badem- almonds, Bal- honey and Balık- fish the small harbour town and region are growing as a popular tourist destination. The original site of Knidos was founded at Burgaz, one and a half kilometers to the north east of the town. The city was moved during the 4th century BC for commercial reasons to capitalize on the expanding sea trade.
There are many apartments, holiday homes, pensions and small hotels in town and Eski Datça. The harbour front is lined with café bars and good selection of restaurants.
BUS: There are regular buses to/from Marmaris connecting to all major cities in Turkey. From Datça there are also services to Hayıt bükü, Ova Bükü and Palamutbükü.
BOAT: From June there is a daily car ferry from Datça to Bodrum with a limited service running the rest of the year. In summer there are ferries running from Datça to Symi and Rhodes.
AIR: Closest airports are Dalaman and Bodrum, both over 3 hours away by road.
The Ceramic Gulf or Gulf of Gökova is the stretch of the South Aegean Sea that lies between the Bodrum Peninsula in the north and Datça Peninsula in the south. At the entrance lies the Greek Island of Kos, not much more than a stones throw away from the Turkish mainland. The gulf took its name from the ancient city of Ceramus which was situated halfway along the northern shore at the modern settlement of Ören.
Sailing and boating have always been the favoured way to explore the wild and unspoiled coastline until the ‘orak’ sickle cut back the scrub to reopen the old coastal footpaths.
The Carian Trail routes along the shore from Cape Crio and the ruins of Knidos all the way to Akyaka (see Datça Peninsula) and the northern shore from Akyaka to Bodrum. The trail ascends the Kıran Mountains along forest tracks to village settlements in fertile valleys’. From up high, magical views look down over the Ceramic Gulf to the peaks and troughs of the Datça Peninsula. Some of the trail descends on old caravan ways with multitudes of hairpin bends taking the steepness out of the climb/descent. Arriving at the shore, secluded coves and deserted beaches invite tired legs to jump in the sea!
The contrast between coast and highland give the traveller a precious insight to the relation between sea and land.
Prehistoric cave paintings near the shores of Lake Bafa confirm human settlement dating back over 7000 years. The mystical landscape of boulder fields and umbrella pines rise up to the craggy peaks of the Beş Parmaklar (Five Fingers) mountain range. Fortified islets, Hellenistic temples and secret monasteries tell stories of the moon goddess Selene and her sleeping lover Endymon.
From the Ceramic Gulf the trail rises into to the heart of Caria passing through the carpet weaving villages of Milas to the ancient capital. Passing under the carved ‘labrys’ double headed axe, symbol of Caria, the path ascends to the religious precinct of Labranda worshipping the cult of Zeus Labrandus. The trail continues along stone laid tracks meandering through lush meadows and olive terraces through the foothills of the Latmos Mountains. Aegean culture and tradition characterize the highland villages; the drab colours of the men congregate at the ‘kahve’ tea house are in contrast to the women out in the fields sporting colouful headdress with freshly picked flower.
From the shores of Lake Bafa climbing to the summit of Mount Latmos the trail descends into the pine forests and olive groves of Aydın Provence to the city of Queen Ada, Alinda. Below the sites monumental agora lies above the small town of Karpuzlu, the Carian Trail’s finish line.
Rising from The corner of the Ceramic Gulf and picturesque resort of Akyaka, the trail follows the old caravan route rising from the coast. Heading inland, the path crosses highland plains, forested slopes and the ancient tombs of Thera en route to the provincial capital. In the Muğla plain, the Ottoman coffee houses of Karabağlar, the old town of Muğla, Değirmendere Canyon and site of Mobolla are of specific cultural interest to the visitor.
Further north the trail follows the stream to the minaret of Eski Bayır and across the valley to ‘Belen Khavesi’ coffeehouse popularized by the Turkish folk song ‘Aman Ormanci’. The walk concludes along the ancient road to the magnificent ruins of Stratonikeia after passing through the deserted village of Meistan. Bicycle is also an ideal way to explore much of this section along forest tracks and quiet country roads.
The rock tombs of Caunos are the town’s enchanting feature carved into the cliffs. Dalyan lies on the eastern bank between Lake Köyceğiz and the sea at the head of the Dalyan Delta. Boats line the riverside ready to take the thousands of summer visitors down the delta to the protected İztuzu beach; a marine turtle-nesting conservation zone. Upstream boats head for the lake and mud baths that apparently rejuvenates the skin of sun burnt tourists.
The town is a popular holiday resort with many restaurants and small friendly hotels lining the riverbank. As well as tourism, fishing and agriculture are a big part of the town’s economy.