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x0x Fethiye highlands make trekker call
FETHIYE - Above Fethiye lies a mysterious and
unchanging area called the 'yayla,' the highlands and
the traditional area in which the nomads make their
summer camp. A one-day trip to these highlands
surrounding the town will help you cool off in the hot
and humid summer days
The hottest days of summer are on their way in Fethiye.
July and August weather can fry your brain until the
easiest tasks become a chore. What do you do? Stay
inside with the air conditioning on at full blast? Lie
under a tree and move as little as possible? Sit in a
swimming pool up to your neck or hang out close to the
frozen food section in your local Migros?
Of course, some of us have to work, but assuming that
there are occasional days off, what would make a
pleasant change from slowly cooking?
Above Fethiye lies the mysterious and unchanging area
called the "yayla." There are yaylas all over Turkey.
It means highland and is the traditional area in which
the nomads make their summer camp. In the summer it is
cool, at altitudes of more than 2,500 meters, and there
are still patches of snow. The nomads arrive here with
their sheep and goats at the end of May, build their
camps and spend the summer months tending their flocks.
To get there, a 4X4 is ideal, but not essential. The
roads are dirt tracks but negotiable with any car, as
long as care is taken. Turning off the Antalya road at
Kemer, Mugla, the asphalt road takes you up to about
1,000 meters. A track then takes you to above Kayacik,
with amazing views of the Xanthos Valley below. Here,
red crested linnets and song thrushes can be seen
together with wheatears. Storks and purple heron can be
seen flying overhead to the mountain plateaus where
they nest during the breeding season.
Climbing higher through the pine forests, the track
takes you to Cem Alani, a place dotted with Kosks
(seating platforms) and crisscrossed with streams.
This is a good place to relax together with any local
families who have come to avoid the heat of the coastal
towns. It is a great place to make a barbeque or enjoy
a picnic. The area is surrounded by beehives, the
occupants of which are busily collecting nectar from
the wealth of alpine flowers in the area.
High plateaus with snow-melt streams
Driving through the mountains, the air becomes rarefied
and the pine gives way to the twisted trunks of
juniper, and later, cedar.
High plateaus with snow-melt streams are a great place
for semi-wild horses to feast on the juicy green shoots
of grass and flowers, their flanks becoming glossy as
they lose their winter coats. Further on, a family of
camels sits stubbornly in the road. A great photo
opportunity, but in order to pass, they must be moved.
Slowly, they stir themselves and lumber off to eat more
of the prickly mountain vegetation that they seem to
The camels are close to Twin Lake, called Ikiz Gol in
Turkish. On this occasion, a ruddy shelduck with her 13
chicks was a wonderful sight to behold. Also there were
rock thrushes, blue rock thrushes and snow buntings.
Around the lakes were an abundance of flowers, many of
them endemic to this region.
The alpine flowers in this area are a dream for any
botanist, including red helliborine orchids providing
bright patches of color in contrast to the grey rocks
of Ak Dag, the name of these mountains at the western
end of the Toros range.
The streams are fast flowing, and coming together they
form spectacular waterfalls that gradually bring the
water to one fast flowing river that rushes into the
town of Gombe, providing vital irrigation for its fruit
and nut orchards. It is here that the weary traveler
can rest before heading back to the coast and the towns
of Kas, Kalkan and Fethiye.
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