Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a visa for Turkey?
Many nationalities do need a visa, which usually gives you 3 months residence as a tourist, with no permission to work. It can be renewed within the country at provincial capital police stations, but renewal takes some time and you need various papers. A new electronic visa system has just been launched – you can check which visa you need and order it here (different languages are available)
Which trails can I bike on?
Regrettably (from our point of view) there is no legislation stopping you biking on any trail, even if it part of a Culture Route. However, there’s a world of difference between off-tarmac biking and mountain-biking. Off-tarmac (ie. forest track and dirt road) biking is possible all over the Taurus and Beydağ mountains, wherever the Forestry Ministry have made forestry maintenance roads. The problem is that these roads are not mapped or signposted – they are, after all, primarily for forestry access. Around Lycia, there are four sources of info: – the detailed Lycia maps on our website – a group of signposted trails above Kemer; the local council has produced a map; – a group of signposted trails above Konyaaltı, Antalya – the local council has produced a map; – a group of signposted trails around Fethiye; the local chamber of trade has produced a guidebook. (we have copies of the guidebook and the Kemer maps in our office as free giveaways) The Culture Routes in mountain areas near the coasts (Kaçkar, Lycian Way, Carian Trail, St Paul Trail, etc) are not suitable for mountain biking. They are steep and narrow, over rough stone or between rocks. However much of a hero you are – you won’t last long on these trails. Some of the inland Culture Routes around the central plateau are suitable for off-tarmac or mountain biking. The Evliya Çelebi Way, the Phrygian Way, the Hittite Trail and the Yenice Forest routes are all partly or mainly suitable. See the relevant page for more info.
How good is the way marking?
Of course waymarking varies from trail to trail. In general, it is renewed at least every two years when the route is new, and less frequently (every 4-5 years) as the route becomes worn in. However, at any time sections of the route can be affected by new road construction, dam-building, landslides, fallen trees, etc. The time you are likely to find problems is early in the year, after winter rains. To be perfectly sure of finding the route, use the iphone app or a GPS. For well-used trails in good weather you do not need this help. If you get lost, retrace your steps to the last waypoint and look in a circle until you discover the next. Then put a cairn for the next trekker. Report any problems to us and we will fix them when we have time, but you can’t expect us to drive 200km just to fix one missing mark. Latest info. on each trail is on the update page.
Can I bring the children?
Children under about 12 yrs will usually find it difficult to maintain the interest and stamina necessary for a long-distance trek. If you want to bring children younger than this, or older children who are not used to trekking, plan your holiday carefully. We suggest that you choose a centre-based holiday in pleasant accommodation, from where you can not only do daywalks, but also try other activities. We suggest the following: On the Lycian Way: Çıralı, Kaş/Üçağız or Kabak. At these places you can boat, swim, explore ruins or wander though the village and woods. You may also be able to canoe or go canyoning or climbing. There are restaurants and cafes, as well as a wide variety of accommodation. Check out the tourism operators – any of them will make bookings or design a program for you. On the St Paul Trail: Base yourself at Eğirdir, from where you can explore the route by bicycle or on foot. You can also boat on the lake, swim, explore nearby canyons and historic sites. Eğirdir has a small castle and medrese, plenty of restaurants, a market and good bus services to villages around. Check out the Lale Pension, which has excellent family accommodation, a lovely restaurant overlooking the lake, and bikes to hire. İbrahim, the owner, or Muslum, his assistant, will help you with a program. In the Kaçkar: Base yourself at Barhal, from where a series of day walks to the yaylas and villages will provide easy and medium level treks for children. The season here starts early – you can enjoy waymarked day-walks from June onwards. The earlier you go, the more chance you have to see bears and wild goats, deer and foxes. The spring flowers, as the snow retreats, are a delight. In the village are cafe/restaurants, a beautiful old church, and the hardy can swim in the river. You can also arrange to spend a night in other villages higher in the hills, to explore the riverside town of Yusufeli (whitewater canoeing here), or to walk to the base camp for Kaçkar. The Barhal Pension is a good place to stay – the son of the family, Coşkun, is an aspiring guide.
What about the baby?
On most trails, you cannot use a baby stroller so the baby will have to be carried in secure baby carrier. You cannot rely on finding baby formula, nappies, and medical supplies in any small village, so you have a choice: – either base yourself in a small town where there are supermarkets and chemists and do daywalks from this base – or bring everything your baby needs with you. In this case, any company offering self-guided treks can organise transport for all your baggage from one pension to another. Hotels will probably have baby beds or cots for your baby to sleep in. In village pensions, they are not used to guests bringing babies, so they are unlikely to have baby beds. Village babies often sleep in hammocks. You could bring a folding baby bed with you. So if you want to bring the baby, plan carefully, including planning what you will do if the baby is sick or if the walking is too difficult. Only trek when the weather is really suitable – check the long-distance forecast or past weather history for the route you want to walk. It is really unkind to expose a baby to too much sun or cold and windy weather.
Maps, smart-phone apps, GPS points?
There are almost no trekking maps of Turkey available. The exception is the 3 maps of the Lycian Way which we offer from our book sales website. Most of the guidebooks, however, contain a map which, if you use it with a compass and the instructions in the book, is good enough for route finding.
We are developing smartphone apps for the trails android and iPhone with a go-live date for the Lycian Way and St. Paul’s trail on October 2018. We will offer them in English and Turkish, with a future plan to include German and Russian. Please appreciate that building each of these apps involves first building a detailed, layered map of the route, so it takes a long time!
For some routes you can download the GPS points directly. If you want the points for the Lycian Way, Kaçkar or St Paul trail, contact us and tell us which sections, and where you bought your guidebook; we can send you a .gpx or .kml file. We do not give points to people who have not bought the guidebook. Please read the trail info. carefully before you mail us.
You can load these waypoints into various smartphone applications such as Locus, where they will display the route over an opensource map. Of course you don’t get the extra information about points of interest, places to stay or historic sites that you get with our applications.
What will the weather be like?
Global warming makes it very difficult to predict weather conditions on any of the trails. To check what the weather may be for the period when you want to trek: See the Wunderground website and enter the nearest city to your route. Click on full forecast. Click on the date under Almanac – you can change the date and see historic info. by month for whichever period you want. Remember to factor in the altitude of the city – temperatures fall on average 7 degrees for every 1000 metres rise in altitude. So if the mean temperature at sea-level in Antalya is 26 degrees, on the pass of Mount Olympos, at nearly 2000m, it will be closer to 12 degrees. It’s not recommended to trek from mid-December to end January – almost all of Turkey has violent storms and snowfall over this period.
Is it safe to walk alone?
In general, yes, of course. If we think any section should not be walked alone, we say so in the guidebooks. The Kaçkar mountains at any time, and some other areas in autumn are prone to mists – if you plan to walk alone, take a tent so you can shelter if the mist comes down. Do NOT walk in mist or blinding rain. For all mountain routes, near or above the tree-line, we recommend that you check the weather forecast and use a GPS. We also recommend using a GPS or i-phone app on the newer routes until the trail becomes well-used.
What do I do in an emergency?
Before you come, read the First Aid/Emergency notes in the guide books. Bring basic first-aid equipment and a mobile phone. Bring the phone number of your consulate; in an emergency they can authorise a helicopter search or call out the Jandarma. The Jandarma phone number is 115. Turkey also has a very professional search and rescue organisation which can deal with mountain rescue, earthquake rescue and many emergencies. Take the phone number of the relevant branch of AKUT – click on their map of Turkey to find a branch in the area you are going to. If you have a GPS, when you phone for help, give coordinates.
Will I get lost?
Undoubtedly. That’s part of the pleasure of walking. Plan your walk, read the book and look at the map and take your time. If you suddenly find yourself without waymarks, retrace your steps to the last mark, check the book and map, and look in a 100m radius. If you don’t find a mark, consider how it could have been destroyed. You’ll soon sort yourself out. Then build a cairn to help the next victim!
I don’t want to carry a tent. Is there enough accommodation?
The aim is to have accommodation available every night; see the Accommodation page for each route. If you want someone to book your accommodation and transfer your luggage, there are several travel agencies who do ‘self-guided’ holidays. See the tours section for self-guided tours. To book accommodation on the Lycian Way, print off the accommodation list and ask your pension owner to phone ahead to the next pension to tell them you are coming.
How can I cook? Stoves, gas stockists and fire warnings
Bring a gas or petrol/white spirit stove. Camping Gaz cylinders (190gm) (gaz tupu) that you pierce open are available at some gaz shops (blue signs). Screw-top gas cylinders are only available in some large towns. 500gm cylinders are available in many places in the Kaçkar. Meths (ispirto) for stoves is available at shops selling barbecue/kitchen equipment or hardware stores. Leadfree petrol (kurşunsuz benzin) for MSR-type stoves is available from filling stations. Methanol burners are available at some hardware stores. ONLY light fires where there are existing fireplaces. Take great care (especially in summer) and make sure that the fire is completely out when you leave – they can spread underground. Almost any cooking device you want is available from this mail-order hunting store, or TEKZEN; both Turkish only; they will deliver to any address. Aygaz has a page with stoves and a link to stockists all over Turkey (in English), but only produces 190gm and 500gm cartridges. Others from: İstanbul: Sportcity, Hacımimi Mh., Kemeraltı Cd., No:27/A, 34422 Tophane, Karaköy, 0 212 251 68 00; Atlascamp, Karaköy meydanı, Aksu iş hanı No: 4, Zemin Kat, 34420 Karaköy, 0212 252 32 82. Antalya: Tibet Outdoor Kaş: If you find gaz anywhere else let me know and I’ll add it to this page.
What about drinking water?
All villages have a source of clean water, either a spring and drinking trough or washing facilities and toilets at the village mosque. There are plenty more public water sources on most trails – springs or wells. You’ll usually pass at least one source per day. BUT you may need a bucket/tin can and string to get water from wells. During/after the animal migration (June – end-October) you should purify well water with iodine or sterilising tablets or by boiling. You may see insects in the water. Fill the bottle completely, let them rise to the surface and fish them out of the neck of the bottle. Mosquito larvae are merely protein! In dry summers some wells and springs dry up from August on; the Carian Way, the Lycian Way and parts of central Anatolia are the driest.
What clothes and boots do I need?
OK, we know one of the reasons you come to Turkey is to enjoy the sun and get a good tan. Just please expose yourself in private. Village Turks are not used to seeing bare skin – that is arms above the elbow, legs above the knee and bare tummies/chests. In particular, please, men, don’t trek with a bare chest. Both men and women should avoid short and/or tight shorts. In a village you should be properly dressed at all times (ie. no bare upper arms or legs or low necklines/bare chests). Many of the trails (Lycian Way and Carian Trail especially) go through scrub or maquis with thorny bushes, vines that catch in your skin and low-growing spiny scrub. If you don’t mind scratched legs and arms, then wear shorts and t-shirts, but many people prefer the protection of long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt.
The most important item is your boots – in southern Turkey, and anywhere else there is limestone, the rocks are sharp and unforgiving. If you are carrying a rucksack, thick-soled boots, preferably with ankle support, are essential. Even if you are doing daywalks, you will be more comfortable with good boots. In the Kaçkar, Sarıkamiş, Ağrı, all year around, and on all treks in the late autumn and early spring, you should carry waterproofs and a headtorch at all times.
There are now two branches of Decathlon in Antalya, so you can top up on any trekking items that you have forgotten at a reasonable cost.
Can I get alcohol?
Very few village stores or cafes sell beer or raki; almost none sell wine or any other alcohol. In general, rural Turks don’t drink. Most small towns have a source of beer (look for TEKEL); you may have to ask. Established tourist areas all have beer and maybe wine and rakı; shops are not allowed to sell alcohol after 10pm. Recently, open-air drinking is being discouraged or banned. Some people think it sinful to make a profit from the sale of alcohol, but no-one will be offended if you drink beer!
Should I use trekking poles?
Poles come into their own in winter snow, for stream crossings and long, steep downhills. They relieve knee damage, especially if you have a full pack. On other sections, they may snag on low bushes and scrub. It’s also easy to lose them.
Don’t think that they will be useful to fight off aggressive dogs – using them will make the situation worse. Shout for the shepherd, pick up some stones and, if necessary, show the dog that you mean business by throwing a stone hard.
How many days’ food do I have to carry?
The most you need to carry is 2 days food on the longest section of the routes. Even if there is no shop in a village, you can knock on a door and ask for simple food like bread (yufka) and cheese (peynir). Pay for what you take; if the man of the house won’t take money, give it to the women or give a small gift to the children.