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The Lycian Way - Trekking along an Ancient Path among the Tortoises

Looking for a bit of adventure in Turkey? If hiking or trekking is one of your preferred pastimes, Turkey can offer you a great many options. In 1999, the Turkish government sponsored the marking and official designation of the country’s first long-distance trail - the Lycian Way. The Lycian Way is named for the Lycia peninsula in which it is situated, today know as the Tekke peninsula on the southern coast of Turkey on the Mediterranean Sea. The entire trail stretches for over 500 km, but there are many shorter trails along the way for less-experienced hikers. Trails like the Lycian Way offer citizens, expats, and tourists alike the opportunity to delve deeply into Turkey’s natural beauty while following the footsteps of history on paths that have been around for millennia. 
The Lycia Way
 

A Short Glimpse of Lycian History

The Lycian people date back to 2000-1500 BC, known as a non-Hellenistic nation of hardworking and well-off citizens with a strong attachment to tradition. In fact, Lycia was the last region on the Mediterranean coast to hold out in resistance to the Roman Empire. They had their own language and alphabet up until 300 BC, when they finally adopted the Greek system. Many of their works of art and architecture are still standing, found throughout the modern Tekke peninsula and along various parts of the Lycian Way.
Trekking the Lycia Way in Turkey
 

The Long Haul into Turkish History and Wilderness

If you are gearing up to do the length of the entire Lycian Way, a stunning twenty-five day journey by foot is waiting for you. The 509 km trail runs from Fethiye to Antalya, primarily composed of dirt and rock-filled footpaths. It is recommended that those taking the journey do so either by foot or mule, given the harsh condition of the paths. It snakes between both the mountains and the coast, offering stellar views along the way and a high likelihood of running into the infamous tortoises that continue to heavily populate the region. It is suggested that you embark on this trip in the spring or fall, avoiding the harsh seasons of winter and summer when the region can become almost unbearably cold and hot, respectively. If you stick to a regular schedule, you should have no problems finding nightly accommodation in the many villages you will pass through. In similar fashion, there are plenty of open and safe wild areas near clean water sources to pitch a tent if you prefer. 
Tortoise trekking the Lycian Way
 

Shorter Explorations of Turkish Jewels

If you don’t have much time at your disposal, don’t fret! You can take a number of shorter paths between the starting and finishing points, including the popular 8 km trip between Fethiye and Kayakoy. This path in particular is a great option because it ends in the famous ghost town of Kayakoy. Kayakoy was populated by Anatolian Greek-speaking Christians from the 1700s up until about a century ago, when its inhabitants participated in a government-sponsored exchange with Greece practically emptying the town of its some 2,000 inhabitants. Since then, Kayakoy has become a museum town and hotspot for tourist groups and curiosity seekers as one of the best-preserved examples of Greek-style houses and churches in Turkey from the last couple centuries. A lovely day can be spent taking this tiny portion of the Lycian Way to Kayakoy, finishing with a fresh cup of Turkish tea or coffee and a freshly made baklava in the well-preserved village. 

Whether you are in Turkey for the long-term or only a short vacation, experiencing the country by trekking along the Lycian Way is one of the best ways to get a taste of Turkey’s various environmental beauties, see firsthand some of the country’s most important historical monuments, and directly interact with the warm and fascinating Turkish people you are sure to meet along the way. You can find online and print guides for specifics to the trail, or hire a professional to help you plan and complete your journey along the Lycian Way. Get exploring today!

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