Our day began in a panic. It was 4:05 AM. The airport shuttle was leaving in 10 minutes. We frantically got dressed, threw the last items in our bag, and ran down the stairs to the closest taxi station. Miraculously enough, we made it. The shuttle arrived and several other half awake individuals moved like ghosts on to the bus. We slept every change we could. Closing our eyes on the 45 minute drive to the airport, in the airport waiting room, and immediately after we sat down on the plane.
We arrived at Dalaman airport around 7:30. It is a very small airport that serves the southwestern region of Turkey, and holiday travellers. We met our guide, and by 9:oo we arrived at our first location: Dalyan. This was once a small fishing village, that is now a famed tourist attraction and summer residence for many British families. The Dalyan river flows into the Mediterranean Sea near a long sand spit that separates the sea from the internal march. This sand spit is called ‘The Turtle’s Beach”, one of the last remaining locations in the Mediterranean area that has the right conditions for Giant Loggerhead Turtles to reproduce and lay their eggs.
Now, most fisherman make their living whisking tourists through the beautiful Dalyan marsh, past the famed Lycian tombs carved into the rocky hillsides, to the natural hot springs and mud baths, ending the trip at the famous ‘Turtles Beach’. Bare in mind, while the allure of the turtles brings numerous people to this beach throughout the year, June is usually the only month where any turtles are spotted. Some people wait hours to simply catch a glimpse of a turtle. We arrived to this famed beach on a cold November morning and found some crab fisherman playing with one of these turtles just off the shore. It was astounding to see a Loggerhead Turtle up close. It dived around the boat as the fisherman fed it crab meat. It was a beautiful creature that swam playfully through the marsh, inspiring ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ from the other boats that encountered it on their way to the beach. After ordering some crab from the ‘crab boat’, we were dropped off at this beautiful sandy beach for an hour. We wandered up and down the beach, sharing the shore with only one other boat of Russian tourists. We searched for signs of a nest without luck, but enjoyed feeling the cold sand under our feet, and hearing the waves crash upon the shore. After stopping for some tea, and taking in the entire scene, we boarded our boat again (this special beach is only accessible by boat), and returned to the boat of the crab fisherman to pick-up our order. As we made our way back to Dalyan, we nibbled on the meat of the small blue-shelled freshwater crab. We returned to the port and indulged in a lunch of grilled fish and various Turkish salads. It was the perfect way to start our trip!
After our meal and a short trip to the hot springs, we boarded the bus to Gocek, a small vacation town that serves as a home base and docking point for many yacht owners. There are many private boat tour companies located in Gocek. It seems like it is the perfect place for anyone with fantasies of a boat trip around Southern Turkey to begin their search for a boat operator or rental company. It is a beautiful town, full of lovely cafes and even a wine bar. We walked along the waterfront, and watched as locals zoomed past us on their vespas, and children played near the water.
By 5 PM we were exhausted. It had been a full day of sightseeing. It was the perfect first day to a comprehensive tour of this historical and beautiful region. We were excited to see what would come next…