A Lycian Way Weekend

Travel Blog: Phaselis – Olympos

With the weather forecast looking reasonably good for a weekend in January, I set off from Antalya for a Lycian Way weekend. I chose to hike from Phaselis to Olympos because the public transport would be relatively quick and painless. It’s a stretch of the Lycian Way that is about 22km long—a day hike for the average person walking the whole route, but I decided to break it in half for an easy weekend trip.

Day 1: Phaselis – Maden Bay

I left Antalya on the dolmus around 9:45, a little later in the morning than I had hoped. I had a map on my phone (OpenStreetMap) and all my camping gear and food in my backpack so I was ready to go! The whole bus ride I impatiently watched our progress on my phone screen until I finally motioned for the driver to stop at the road up to the Mt. Olympos Teleferik. Here, I walked across the highway and found the gap in the fence that I’d been told about by Kate Clow. The trail led down to the Phaselis ruins.

The path was a bit tricky to follow from the highway to the ruins, but I could see the parking lot that I was headed for so I knew I was going in the right direction. Entering into the ancient necropolis was incredible. Old tombs and buildings lined the beach.

Phaselis is a port city that started in the 7th century BC either by the Lycians or the Pamphylians (the sign said it was disputed). The Persians were there, the Romans were there, and so was the Byzantine empire. Roman Emperor Hadrian came through at some point and a big gate was built in his honour. Now the most well preserved remains are those of the aqueduct. I wandered through the main road, the theatre, the hammam, and the agora before emerging onto a sunny beach.

I hiked further along the beach before stopping for a lunch and swim break. I couldn’t resist those blue waters.

Picking up after lunch, I trekked past the Sundance Camp and on my way to Tekirovya. Here a couple guys driving by picked me up and gave me a ride across town to the start of the Lycia Way trailhead on the other side. I appreciated the 4-5km stretch of road through Tekirovya that I didn’t have to walk…

The trail from Tekirovya to Maden Bay followed the coast, dipping down into a couple of gorgeous beaches along the way. To my surprise this whole section wasn’t so much a hiking trail as a dirt road and I was passed by a couple of cars along the way. I had thought of stopping for the night in one of the first beaches that I arrived at, but it was only 2:30pm at this point and I thought I should hike a bit further in the sunshine to save myself the distance on the next day. After that beach, the road climbed for a while before descending into Maden Bay. A couple of other camping groups had been set up at the last two beaches, but Maden was empty besides a couple of guys on motorbikes who were only there for the afternoon. I arrived around 4:30pm.

At this point the clouds were drifting in so I had a quick swim before settling down with my stove and my book to make myself a cup of tea. To my disappointment, the screw top fuel canister that I had bought from Tibet Outdoor in Antalya didn’t work with my stove. I had tested whether the screw fit while in the store, but I hadn’t actually tested whether any fuel came out… I said a sorry goodbye to my dreams of soup and manti for dinner and ended up eating bread and veggies instead. The daylight faded quickly and I realized I was going to have a long night ahead of me. That’s what I get for camping in January, I guess. I read for a bit by the light of my headlamp, but was asleep by 8:00pm or so.

Day 2: Maden Bay – …

I slept well, but was woken early by a rain shower that necessitated a quick dash out of my tent to grab my towel and shirt that were “drying” outside. I spent a couple more hours curled up in my sleeping bag before eating a quick breakfast and packing up in the break after another spout of rain. Unfortunately, the rain was only getting worse.

The trail out of Maden towards Cirali was lovely. The dirt road ended at the east end of the bay and from there was only a footpath that wove its way over the last couple coves towards the town. Now I felt like I was truly hiking. The rain was on and off for the hour and a half that it took for me to reach the road in Cirali, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the way.

I had hoped to hike past the beach in Cirali (which I had been told was one of the best beaches in the world!) and then onward to the ruins at Olympos. From there, I planned to catch a bus from Olympos up to the highway and then flag down one of the hopefully frequent buses headed back to Antalya.

Unfortunately, the rain and my lack of warm food was getting to me at this point. I took a glance at the beach, but then accepted a ride through Cirali by a Turkish couple on holiday. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to get a proper meal in the resort town. Yet another effect of camping in the off-season. I was dropped off at the center of town and told that there were no buses and I would have to walk the 7km up to the highway. 7km wasn’t that far I reassured myself. I ate some cookies that the couple had given me and trudged along the pavement. A couple cars went by and I started to think about hitch-hiking. I gathered some courage and began sticking out my thumb.

The third car thankfully stopped for me. “Antalya?” the family asked, and I nodded with enthusiasm. And so I ended up in the backseat with two cute Turkish kids and a simit in hand. The trip back to Antalya was speedy when not done by dolmus and I was back so early it felt like I had barely been gone at all!

Overall, a good trip! I’m eager to head back to the trail again and see some more of the Lycian Way.

– Kiera (a Culture Routes Society volunteer)

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