The beautiful gorge and river are spoiled somewhat by what amounts to a amusement park sitting in a huge carpark at its entrance. There are ziplines, tourist shops, restaurants and rafting, mudbaths and tourist tat. People start turning up from around 9am in Dolman buses – picked up from hotels in Fethiye and Kas. I’m off to walk the couple of kilometres up the gorge, which is why I came. There are 18km of it in all, but waterlevels mean that only some of it is accessible without climbing gear. Even walking the first 2km means wading through mud and getting wet up to my shoulders!
It was just the best fun ever: slippery, wet, muddy and don’t forget to look up! The water in the canyon rises many, many feet in winter and, as a result, there are tree trunks wedged between the sides of the gorge high up. Our guide reckons that they’ll be gone in a few more winters – worn away by the silt in the currents. The gorge is so narrow and deep in places the sun doesn’t reach down. The water and banks are full of fine grey clay that looks as good as any I’ve seen in potter’s sheds.
The guide took me and another couple, Nicola and Richie from Salisbury, up the gorge – which was useful as he was able to tell us where to step – the water is opaque and you can’t see the deep bits or the sinky muddy bits. He was also able to tell us where to leave our valuables as the last bit just before the waterfalls involved a swim – so I left my camera hidden in the rocks with my sweatshirt. We timed our walk just right, as we had the gorge to ourselves – and the crowds started appearing just as we got back to the entrance again.
I left the park at around 1700hrs after sitting outside the loo reading my book for most of the afternoon – waiting for the macbook to charge completely.
I’d only ridden about 13miles – much of it along the meandering Saklikent river watching people in rubber rings drift down – when a man on a scooter stopped and asked me if I needed a place to sleep (with hand signals as he knew very little English). I did, although I was reluctant to be propositioned by a lonely man again. I needn’t have worried as when we got to his house just a short way up the road, I was greeted by his wife, Hanife and daughter Izef – so I gladly accepted their hospitality. Especially as there was a hill coming up.
Mustapha and Hanife seemed pleased and excited to show me their home and share their home made goodies with me. While Mustapha kindly ran me into Kincin in the car to get some money from the ATM, Hanife prepared a sumptuous supper of cheese, olives, bread, pasta soup, yoghurt – and chips. Mustapha slowed the car as we drove past the impressive, Unesco rated ruins at Xanthos – they loomed large in the dark. They had refused any money for staying – but Mustapha accepted ‘petrol money’ for running me into town.
A tablecloth is spread over the living room floor with a cardboard ring to raise the tray of food placed in the centre. The TV is on in the background – and I suspect is put on in the morning and stays on all day. We all sat around the meal and dipped in communally. The cloth was lifted over knees to catch crumbs.
As well as Izef, Mustafa and Hanife have a younger son who is away studying in Antalya – they are both very proud of his achievements. He gets phoned so I can speak to him – I hear him and his mates rolling around the floor laughing as he practises his very basic English on me – “Hello – How are you what is your name?” (cue giggles in background).
Shortly after this we went to bed – but not before Hanife showed me where the loo was. I went for a pee in the night – and Hanife got herself out of bed to accompany me with a torch to make sure I was safe from – well I’m not sure what.