We’ve made it to the very tippy top of the Lycian Way in Fethiye. Well, that’s where our bus deposited us after which we then had a 15 minute or so taxi ride back to our accommodation in Ölüdeniz. This popular resort town is positively teeming with Brits, where the “Strip” through the main town displays prices in pounds, shows all the English Premier League football matches and provides full monty English breakfasts, including bacon, at any time of the day.
Of course, we’re not here for any of that but rather to visit the famous Blue Lagoon for which Oludeniz is known. Translated iterally as the Dead Sea, due to its calm waters even during storms, Oludeniz is situated at the meeting point of the Aegean and Mediterranea Seas and backs onto some amazing mountain scenery including Mount Babadag from which paragliders can be seen throughout the day taking advantage of the thermal currents and panoramic views.
Shared dolmus’s run every five minutes from Oludeniz town down to the beach. Here, you can choose to walk a couple of hundred metres to the public beach, where you’ll be greeted by all manner of sailing ships or continue on further to the Blue Lagoon where for 7.5 TL you gain access to the superb national nature reserve.
The beaches here are pebble and as a national reserve, construction is strictly prohibited around the Blue Lagoon ensuring this natural beauty is not bespoiled.
The name Blue Lagoon doesn’t really do justice to the seawater here. With gorgeous shades of turquoise, teal and aquamarine this is a place that will blue you away.
The sea is also perfectly safe for young families and when we went the perfect temperature for swimming. Slightly refreshing so that you feel like you’re getting some respite from the heat, but also warm enough to spend hours in, if you so desire.
After spending some time relaxing in the picturesque surroundings of the Blue Lagoon it was time to make good on a promise I’d made myself to get back onto the Lycian Way. As happenstance would have it, one of the best stretches was within very easy reach of where we were staying in Oludeniz at what used to be the beginning of this magnificient long distance hike. Of course, finding it was a lot harder than it needed to be and per my previous experience the way markers even after I’d found the start continued to be somewhat elusive, however, it felt great to be back out on actual trails once again.
After a reasonably short paved section, it doesn’t take long before you’re presented with spectacular views of Oludeniz Beach and the Blue Lagoon.
The amazing thing was, these views were literally 500 metres or so along a very walkable dirt road from where taxis were waiting, yet I only saw a handful of people (maybe 5 or so when I was going up and 5 or so on the way down). Now, my running camera was all smudged up as I hadn’t cleaned it properly after sweating all over it when in Kas and it was also a bit hazy which the camera struggled a bit with, but these views with the naked eye were mesmerising. Anybody who is in Oludeniz just has to make it up here to look down on this beautiful sight.
It just wouldn’t have felt right turning around a couple of kilometres into my run, so forging on there was plenty of different sights and scenery awaiting down the trails, including looking up towards the pargliding launching pade of Babadağ mountain at an elevation of 1,900 metres.
All this variety made it an extremely worthwhile adventure and totally made up for getting lost on two separate occassions, adding an unnecessary five or so kilometres to my journey.
Having almost made my way to the village of Faralya (close to Butterfly Valley), which is usually the day’s end for through hikers, it was time to turn around and make my way back home. With knowledge of beautiful views of Oludeniz to greet me on the way back, an unexpected visit from the 33 billy goats gruff and it being mostly downhill, the journey back was nearly as much fun as that on the way out.
Having checked out the Oludeniz part of the Lycian Way, there was also one last opportunity for a trot the opposite way towards the new starting point in Fethiye. The destination this time was the ghost town of Kayaköy, which is actually very easily reached by dolmus from Oludeniz, being only 5 kilometres of so away.
Originally known in Greek as Karmilassos and shortened to Lebessos, the town has been inhabited since possibly as early as the 7th century AD. By the 11th century AD, the inhabitants were predominantly Greek Orthodox Christian and even after the Ottoman conquest in the 14th century AD, lived in harmony with their rulers. Things changed in the late 19th/early 20th century AD, when persecution of minorities began within the Ottoman realm. This led to the almost total depopulation of Kayakoy’s 6,500 Greek inhabitants by 1918.
Following these events the Allies permitted Greece to occupy Smyrna further up the Aegean Coast in modern-day Izmir, which had a large Greek population. This led to the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922 and subsequent decisive Turkish victory during which 35,000 people were killed. The Treaty of Lausanne ceded back the lands which Greece were given post World War I and also provided for a population exchange between Greece and Turkey barring the return of Greek Orthodox refugees to their homes in Turkey. It also required that Greece's Muslim Turkish-speaking citizens permanently leave Greece for Turkey (with an exception for Turkish Muslims living in Greek Thrace).
Most of these Greek Muslims were used by the Turkish state to settle its now empty Greek Christian towns, but Greek Muslims did not wish to settle in Kayakoy due to rumors of ghosts of the Greeks killed there.
Today Kayaköy is an open air museum and protected historical monument. There are estimated to be around 500 houses that remain as ruins, as well as two churches and a school. There is a nominal 7.5 TL entrance fee, although you could enter via the back entrance through the forest,having walked from Oludeniz and not pay, as no one checks whether you have a ticket or not.
Having run around the ruins and hopefully not stirred up too many ghosts, it was time to disapparte myself and make my way back up the hill before enterting the forest for one last spin on the Lycian Way.