A River Boat Ride
After reading the Lonely Planet write up on Dalyon, I must admit to being quite intrigued. I put the town on the table a couple of times only to see the group seemingly decide to give it a pass. No worries really as there are so many wonderful little seaside hamlets along this coastline. However, when our stay in Kaya Koy was coming to an end, we huddled as a group and I must admit to being really excited when we decided to give Dalyon a visit. Wow I thought, hot Turkish mud baths, the estimable Dalyon river itself, the famous turtle nesting grounds at Iztuzu beach and of course, the impressive cliff side ruins. Another adventure began!
We took a cab, a bus and then another cab to Dalyan arriving just after lunch time. We checked into the Kaunos Prince hotel right on the rivers edge and promptly sat beside the pool to enjoy an ice cold Efes beer. Nice start right...and it was about to get even better.
May is a wonderful time to visit Turkey. Once again we were weeks ahead of the hoards that will descend on these small villages over the next few weeks. We saw enormous capacity of river boats, restaurants and stores being utilized at about 10% as there were so few tourists. Once again, as I had so many times over the past few weeks, I said a quiet thank you to Brad and Heather, not only for inviting us on this trip, but also for having the foresight to pick the month of May.
We spent the first afternoon exploring the village and we really liked what we saw. Albeit fairly touristy, we could see that the village had character as the beautiful mosque and it's surrounding square were right smack in the centre of the village. We watched men and women going in and out of the mosque and we saw children playing in the park. The river edge, as it flowed through the town was a protected walkway that was closed to traffic...a nice touch.
Brad and Heather negotiated a full day boat trip for just the 4 of us for TL100 (about 56CAD). The idea was that we would travel up stream to visit the hot Turkish mud baths, then travel back down stream to visit the ruins and then finally out to the sea where we would visit the famous turtle nesting grounds at Iztuzu beach. Our host Mehmet packed up a nice lunch for us (including a cooler full of beer) and so, after breakfast the next day, we set out on our next adventure.
Our captain, (also Mehmet), was a wonderfully patient operator of a boat that accommodated the 4 us with ease. We had the choice of sitting outside in the sun or under full cover. Our boat moved gently and at a leisurely pace in contrast to the larger and more crowded popular tourist boats. We loved the way that it meandered along the river and quietly seemed to work with the river instead of trying to conquer it as the other larger and noisier tourist boats did.
Along the way, our captain, offered us the choice of going to a genuine Turkish hot mud bath (where the locals would go) as opposed to the much more popular tourist one. Of course we said yes and feeling totally superior to the boatloads of tourists who roared past us, we gently approached the river bank where Mehmet brought the boat to a stop just so that we could hop off the bow and onto the grassy river bank. With increasing excitement, Mehmet led us along a grassy path towards the hot springs. Our pace slowed considerably as the strong smell of sulphur hit our nostrils. We noticed that nobody else was around and soon we came to a spot in the land where warm water literally bubbled out of the ground. There was a little bay of warm water that I must admit really stunk. Mehmet led us over to the far side of what could only be described as cesspool, complete with water bugs, frogs, mosquitoes and the slimiest most disgusting looking mud that I have ever seen. As he encouraged us to jump in the four us recoiled in horror and started a slow retreat towards the hill side. Looking at my travel companions, I knew that the others were all feeling as I was, that "it was not going to happen". With our tails between our legs and the gagging smell of sulphur in our nostrils, we made a hasty retreat to the safety of our boat and realized that many the throngs of tourists really had figured this one out.
Onward we chugged up the river and soon came to the popular tourist mud bath spot where of course the hoards of tourist were. Again, feeling slightly less smug, we tentatively disembarked and walked towards the busy entrance way. We soon figured it out, and after changing into our bathing suits, hopped in to cover our bodies with the warm slime. Reminded me a bit of the Haman as I rubbed myself with the gritty mud. After covering ourselves, we stepped out into the sunlight to let the mud dry. As the mud began to tighten, we decided to step into the cool shower and to wash the mud off. Felt kind of good really.
Then we retraced out steps back to the boat and this time headed down stream where we stopped at a small dock. Here Mehmet directed us to hike up a first along a roadway and then along a small trail up to the impressive Kaunos ruins. Try as we might, it was hard to get really excited here as one can only do "so many ruins". These were equally impressive as so many others but after stopping at so many ruins before this trip and with the heat of the day reaching its peak, we were more interested in moving on to the beach.
We continued our journey downstream and soon found ourselves navigating a myriad of small water ways bordered by tall grasses. All of the waterways eventually lead to the ocean. Mehmet skillfully piloted the boat through one of the narrow water ways and we enjoyed peering across the horizon where we could only see the roof tops of other boats that were also plying their way to and from the ocean (but along different waterways).
At one point Sue started fencing with a rather large bee. I watched her thrust and parry with increasing frenzy as the bee buzzed closer and closer to her face. Biding my time before stepping in to assist knowing that she would soon render the bee to pollen dust, (in reality I was hoping she would get rid of it before it saw me as easier prey), she inadvertently swatted her trusty sun hat into the water. Mehmet swung into action. Skillfully turning the boat as we kept our eyes on the wayward chapeau, our trusty boat soon snagged the moorage lines of other boats tied to the river bank. we watched worriedly as Mehmet struggled to free the boat hoping that the hat could sustain the waves from the multitude of river boats that swarmed past. Finally Mehmet pulled the boat free, and we then crossed the river where Sue's trusty hat was by now being eyed romantically by a large sea turtle (OK, maybe a bit of poetic license there). We snatched the hat out of the water and just then Heather did spot a large sea turtle as it surfaced for air. We scrambled for our cameras, punched the on buttons and focused just seconds after the turtle slipped below the surface. Mmmm, missed the photo op we mused.... but would never have seen the turtle if not for the epic battle with the killer bee.
Our first view of the ocean was quite breathtaking. We saw a long sandy beach with big rolling waves. Mehmet pulled up to one of the many docks on the river side of the beach. We disembarked and walked along a boardwalk towards the ocean. Right away we saw a protective cone on the sand along with a sign saying that a turtle nest was just under the cone. We read the instructions not to disturb the turtle nests. Kind of neat to think that sea turtles would soon hatch close to where we were standing. The beach itself was crowded but only near the unloading area. We sauntered off in one direction and soon had miles of beautiful sandy beach almost to ourselves.
After lounging for an hour or so, we slowly worked our way back to the boat where we found Mehmet patiently waiting for our return. We loved the gentle putt putt back upstream as we now tryed to avoid the strong heat of the afternoon sun. After and hour or so on the river (longer due to travelling upstream) we finally reached our hotel. We gave Mehmet a healthy tip, bid him farewell and headed up poolside for another cold Efes. Loved every minute of the day.
Another amazing Turkish adventure.