Trekking Around izmir
- Trekking Around izmir
By LEVENT YILDIRIM
izmir, the ancient Smyrna, is the right place to start exploring Aegean
culture of past and present. This modern port city, the latest in a
series of settlements which go back thousands of years, is also known
for inhabitants whose hearts are as warm as the climate.
Less well known is that izmir is within easy reach of superb trekking
routes through spectacular scenery. These offer delightful surprises
for big city dwellers who need to escape from the crowded city once in
a while. And what is more some are even accessible by municipal bus.
Here are just a few examples of many beautiful spots where walking is a
Mount Bozdag 45 km from izmir attracts skiers in winter, but this 2000
m high mountain is also ideal for trekking winter and summer, and quite
as lovely as the better known beauty spots around Nif and Mount Spil.
In winter you can take the chair lift to the summit to enjoy the
extraordinary view, and either trek or ski down. In summer try taking
the track leading from Bozdag village on the skirts of the mountain up
to the summit. The track follows a dry stream bed up to the shoulder of
the mountain, where it comes to an end after a walk of about one and a
half hours. This is the best place to rest before tackling the steep
haul to the summit, which takes about two and a half hours, and is
rewarded by a panoramic view in its summer garb.
An easier alternative to climbing all the way to the summit is to head
downwards from the resting point at the end of the track towards
GOlcuk. This is a pleasant walk among small hills, where you can end
the day with a glass of scalding fresh tea as you sit watching the
If Bozdag is too far or you have no car then try going to OrnekkOy.
Municipal buses leave for OrnekkOy from Konak in izmir. The first
trekking route here starts at the far end of the village and follows a
stream through wonderful scenery, which is at its best in spring and
early summer when the vegetation is lush with every tone of green. A
two hour walk takes you to Kayakalesi, which offers you a vantage point
over the hidden paradise through which you have just been. From here
you can either make your way downhill to the village of SancaklI, or
return the way you came, this time along the other bank of the stream.
The second route at OrnekkOy requires a car to drive to KaragOl, a
nearby lake which is crowded with picnickers at weekends but quiet and
tranquil during the week. Here the greenish blue waters of the lake
harmonise with the greenery that surrounds it. As you approach the
lake a road climbs up into the hills, from where there is a marvellous
view over izmir and KaragOl. Choose your own return route from
hundreds of alternatives. Discovering your own path and describing it
eloquently to friends on your return is all part of the fun.
Gaziemir south of izmir is another good starting point. Behind the town
a gravel road leads into the forest, where there are several paths to
choose from, some climbing up into the hills and others down to the
river bed, which runs through fascinating rock formations with tiny
If you wish to see some history on your walk, drive directly south from
izmir to Degirmendere, halfway to KushadasI. Find the neighbourhood
called Malta, and head for the village of Karacadag. This ghost village
was abandoned by its inhabitants in the 1950s and its typical Aegean
houses are now in ruins. The past seems to come to life as you walk
through the village, where a stream flows through green vegetation.
For ancient history choose YogurtCu Kalesi at the village of Uzunburun,
near Emiralem on the road from izmir to Manisa. The castle of YogurtCu
lies in countryside completely untouched by human hand. The castle is
in a fine state of preservation considering that it is believed to date
originally from Ionian times, and the strong walls behind are still
standing. From here paths lead down to a small stream, which about 100
metres further on flows into a canyon - the surprise feature of this
area - whose rock walls rise up to 50 m in height.
The walks described here are just a selection from many in a region
whose celebrated sights tend to get all the attention. Leaving the
beaten track of the guide books is the way to discover this idyllic
Aegean scenery at close quarters, rather than glimpsed from a speeding
car or coach.
* Levent YIldIrIm is an outdoor sports photographer. Pictures