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Hiking the Lycian Trail with Kuluar

Author: Anastasia Gonchar, Kyiv
Teamleader: Ihor Kolotukha
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They say you have to visualize your dreams to make them come true. So on my 28th birthday, blowing out the candles on my birthday cake, I wished for a hike in the mountains in the spring, preferably along the Lycian Trail, with backpacks, tents, and all the romance of the mountains.

Of course, the idea did not come out of nowhere – thanks to the beautiful photos and stories about her hike from Kuluar from a friend Inna Maslenchuk, I was inspired, too. Well, and a long time since I went to the mountains, to be honest. So, I made a wish, blew out the candles, my friends (the best in the world), gave me $ $ to deposit – and go! Nothing kept me from this incredible conflagration that I’d been hovering in the clouds thinking about for months.

Why the Lycian Trail? The route is known, well scouted, scenic views, a combination of sea and mountains-just the way I like it. And during the lockdown, there was not much choice – Turkey or Egypt, that’s all J And to go to the all-inclusive – is like a visit to a bad dream for me, no no, no way! Only hardcore!

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I was pleasantly impressed with the professional approach of the Kuluar team in preparation – the manager Lyudmila was constantly in touch, answering all our questions and informing us about the tickets and preparations. And with the guide Igor Kolotukha discussed every detail of escort real-time, so as not to carry unnecessary things on our shoulders, so as not to collect more than necessary (according to the rules of minimalism and common sense).

Unfortunately, there was some anxiety and worry – our flight to Istanbul was canceled twice, twice we changed tickets and the place of departure (we chose the cheapest – at first it was the tickets from Kharkov, then changed to Boryspil, which turned out even better).

The group of 10 people was planned to meet in Fethiye, to get there, we had to change flights in Istanbul to Dalaman, from Dalaman there took 1 hour by bus and we were there. Guide Igor Kolotukha met us at the hostel, where we met the other participants of the tour and mentally tuned for another day – we explored the city, its embankment, the empty streets (in Turkey is severe lockdown), the local beaches.

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The first day of the hike began with acquaintance with the surroundings of Fethiye and exploring the remains of the ancient Lycian settlement Telmessos, about which our guide willingly told us, issuing so many facts, which felt like a tour in a historical museum!

The next morning we continued the hike so far without backpacks (a very slow swing to keep everyone comfortable), came by bus to Kayakoy, checked out the ruins of the Greek settlement, and from there went for a walk along the coast and hung out on the beach at the bay Oludeniz. There were some people in our team who wanted to fly paragliders, so we planned the details of their flight over lunch in a local cafe. The coast of Oludeniz is very picturesque and during the lockdown period it was deserted. Therefore, despite the somewhat cool water in the sea, we took the opportunity to swim and sunbathe there. We walked a total of 7 km (easy!), I was breaking out my new trekking shoes a bit. Such a relaxing day.

Well, the challange started on the third day. We left our hostel by bus and started with the official start of the Lycian trail with backpacks on our shoulders. We walked 12 km that day, gaining more than 760 m altitude. We spent the night in the forest, without any civilization, near a fresh water spring. Here Natasha and I were on duty and cooked our first borscht over a fire, from products carefully prepared by our guide (mainly dried vegetables and preserves). The borscht, of course, was incredibly savored, as was our entire field kitchen thereafter! And which between the rocks we met the sunset – turned off completely his anxious brain from his past life, this sunset with the onset of dusk as if forced us to immerse ourselves in the wilderness of Turkey and finally disconnect from thoughts about work, home, problems and negative emotions. In retrospect, this would be one of our best sunsets of the entire trip. Conversations and an evening of getting to know each other around the campfire, chattering and laughing fun – that’s how we spent our first night in the tents.

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As for the overnight stay – the next nights were planned in campsites – specially designated places for tents, with showers and wi-fi. That’s why the night in the forest was especially memorable – nothing distracted us from contemplating the wilderness.

The fourth day of the hike led us to the top beach in my life (I’ve already seen them a little bit ;)). The picturesque settlement and Kabak Valley. We hung out here for 2 nights, and since the guide was very loyal and offered the next day to those willing to fix on the beach to do so, the four of us didn’t think long. The beach is famous for the fact that you can not get there by transport – only on foot along the Lycian Trail, descending from cliffs and rocks, in the heat under the scorching sun, but the sea was flying on the horizon and beckoned us, so we got over that section with dignity. 12 km, more than 900 meters downhill. It took us several hours to get down, with rests and breaks for lunch. It was not super easy for everybody, but the support of the guide and his motivating stories helped not to drink.)

On the fifth day those who hadn’t stayed on the beach, visited the Kabak valley, weaved 12 kilometers on foot and felt the joy of a hike without big backpacks. And the four of us sunbathed, swam, treated ourselves to local delicacies at a restaurant on the coast and just filmed in our memories of Kabak beach, dreaming of returning here someday again.

The next morning we returned to the trek, gained 800m again and walked up the rocky slopes to our next overnight destination, the village of Alindja high up in the mountains. Along the way we encountered wild and domestic goats, sheep, a bunch of cats and friendly locals.

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Regarding the friendliness of the locals – either the quarantine has such effect, or they really welcomed us very sincerely, but we felt like welcome guests at any point of the route. We tried a Turkish snack for highlanders – güzleme – thin bread, similar to pita bread with spices and traumas, baked with cheese, of course, washed down with ayranm, pomegranate or orange freshness (to each his own). And the hostess at the campsite on the 7th day treated us with vegetables from the garden patch, her own pine honey, and even baked a pie! so glad that we had chosen to stay with her.

On days 7 and 8 we covered 15 km on foot, but everyone was so used to walking that it was not felt. The beach of Patara was a discovery for me – there we met only a few locals, no tourists, the place is extremely photogenic – just rocks, open sea, clear turquoise water, and us!

We spent the night by the sea, under the sound of waves and the starry sky.

The last day of the hike we dedicated to a visit to the ancient UNESCO-listed city of Xanthos, ancient excavated tombs.

I would like to add that we were lucky with the weather or May – perfect for visiting Turkey and trekking Lycian Way – it was not cold and not hot, a light breeze and not yet too scorching sun.

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In general, impressions from a campaign heap, we said goodbye reluctantly and all promised each other to meet again, in new campaigns. I can advise future participants not to be afraid – a hike along the route of medium gravity, a sufficient number of stops and time to rest. Well, and with the guide, Igor Kolotukha at all nothing is afraid, easy and fun. All my hikes next – only with him! I thank him for his sense of humor, atmosphere and excellent planning hike, well, for all advice and help in the organization, for delicious recipes and adequate response to our jokes.

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