Saklikent Gorge Jeep Safari
My friends and I were visiting southern Turkey and staying a few days in the seaside town of Fethiye. Sarah, owner of Aegean Journeys, had planned a special day trip for us on The Saklikent Gorge Jeep Safari.
It was a full ten hour day with stops at; Tlos, a trout farm, carpet co-op, Saklikent Gorge hike, lunch at the river, tubing, mud bath, rest stop at a gas station with a pool and ending the day at the beach. In this article, I’m going to focus on our visit to Tlos, the ancient Lycian hilltop city, and our adventure to the Saklikent Gorge.
It was a gorgeous spring day and we all piled into the jeep, which would take us from the town of Fethiye up into the mountains.
Along the way we stopped at Tlos, which is an important religious settlement over 4,000 years old. The ruins of the Lycian city are on the east side of the Xanthos Valley. We could see the fortress at the top, and there were also remains of a Byzantine Church. At the site there is also a Roman era amphitheater. During the Roman period Tlos was dubbed “the very brilliant metropolis of the Lycian nation.” In Greek mythology, hero Bellerophon and his winged flying horse Pegasus lived in the city too.
We were in awe of the history and surprised that the ruins had held up so well, all while being perched on the side of the cliff. It was a dramatic, beautiful setting, with fields of red poppies and stunning mountain views.
Just across the road from Tlos sits the modern day village of Yaka. Some of the local women were selling handmade beaded jewelry and wooden whistles. My friends and I purchased a few items and then were on our way back up the mountain in our jeep.
We arrived at the Saklikent River, near the mouth of the narrow gorge, where we were treated to a traditional Turkish lunch. It was relaxing sitting at the low Turkish tables while lounging on cushions by the river. We enjoyed Shish Taouk (chicken skewers), salad and wine.
After lunch we followed the trail up the river gorge. It was a fifteen-minute walk and we took our time taking many pictures along the way. The canyon was narrow and 300 m (980 ft) deep.
We were only able to hike a small section, even though the gorge is 18 k (11 mi) long. The river was running too high and we were unable to cross safely to go further upstream. Snow melt from the Taurus Mountains was still flowing down.
After checking out the gorge, we met back up with our group and were fitted with life jackets, helmets and water shoes. We were each given a tube to float down the river in.
The water was absolutely freezing (snow melt) and lucky for us we were able to stay on top of the tubes to float down the river. It was so much fun! After just a few miles we had to get out, but we sure laughed a lot and enjoyed ourselves on the river!
Our next stop was just down the river and supposed to be a real treat. The fine silt had built up in an area next to the river, so they had turned it into a mud bath. By mud bath, I mean we all stood in a circle in a mud pit and covered ourselves with mud. It was very cold mud from the freezing river water. Then, we rinsed off in a drainage ditch and piled back into the jeep.
Driving back down the mountains was especially beautiful; we passed herds of sheep on the road and saw beautiful meadows and valleys. As we passed through some villages we could hear the muezzin calling everyone to prayer from the minaret of the mosques in each village.
Our Saklikent Gorge adventure was such a special day, from learning important local history, to tasting traditional food, floating the river, and all while having fun with my friends!
To read more about our great Turkish adventure please check out these other posts: Sultanahmet, Istanbul my Two Day Guide. Or, Our Night at the Ahirkapi Hidrellez Gypsy Festival.