Dalyan is a town in Muğla Province located between the well-known districts of Marmaris and Fethiye on the south-west coast of Turkey. The town is an independent municipality, within the administrative district of Ortaca.
Dalyan achieved international fame in 1986 when developers wanted to build a luxury hotel on the nearby İztuzu Beach, a breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle species. The incident created major international storm when David Bellamy championed the cause of the conservationists. The development project was stopped and the beach is now a protected area. Life in Dalyan revolves around the Dalyan Çayı River which flows past the town. The boats that ply up and down the river, navigating the maze of reeds, are the preferred means of transport to all the local sites.
Dalyan means "fishing weir" in Turkish. Bass, Mullet and Sea Bream swim upstream from the sea to Köyceğiz Lake where another large town of the region, Köyceğiz, is located. The fish spawn there, and when returning to the sea they are caught in the "dalyans". In addition to its attraction as a tourist destination, the region around Dalyan is a highly fertile and productive agricultural zone. Cotton is grown intensively as well as many varieties of fruits and vegetables which are all on display in the market on Saturdays, the day when villagers come from miles around to sell their products.
Above the river's sheer cliffs are the weathered façades of Lycian tombs cut from rock, circa 400 BC. The ruins of the ancient trading city of Kaunos are a short boat trip across the river. South of Dalyan on the Mediterranean coast, lies İztuzu Beach, near the village of the same name is a popular area for sunbathing and swimming. There are regular boat and minibus (dolmuş) services to the beach. Visitors should be aware of the wooden stakes in the beach to mark nesting sites. The road route is particularly scenic, offering views of Sülüngür Lake. Iztuzu was voted the best beach in the world in 1995.
The beach is well known for the Caretta Caretta (Loggerhead Sea Turtles) which have existed for 95 million years. International animal protection organizations monitor and protect the turtles' nesting grounds in Turkey. The beach is closed during the period of time that the Turtles lay their eggs. On the other side of the beach, lesser known and lesser protected turtles which are illegally fed and coaxed into the river, which has a small salt content, and therefore these turtles have to adapt. Fortunately few turtle deaths have ever occurred.
The ancient city of Kaunos stands midway along the channel. It grew into a major area on the border between Lycia and Karia, where the people were said to be famous for their yellowish skin and eyes. ( due to Malaria ) Kaunos was known to be the son of Miletus and the Grandson of Apollo, he is believed to have fled from the city because of the unnatural feelings between himself and his sister. The city sprawls over a broad slope overlooking the sea and delta. At Kaunos there is an Acropolis surrounded by the city walls that are Byzantine, a theatre, four temples, an Angora , Roman baths, Palestra and a Cistern. The harbour that continually silted up is one of the two major reasons for the demise of the city, eventually carrying the coast line 5 kilometers away from the city. The second disaster was the outbreak of malaria because of the shared belief of the inhabitants of Kaunos that the mosquito was a sacred creature.
Kaunos has a long and varied history and is well worth a visit. You can visit Kaunos at any time although it is advisable to avoid the midday sun. First you will have to cross the Dalyan channel by rowing boat then walk up to the city. Kaunos can also be visited as part of a day tour.
Along the channel of the Dalyan Delta from Köycegiz are The Sultaniye Thermal baths with the water is 40 degrees C. The water has been used since Hellenistic times, first by the Karians then the Byzantines. The ruins from these buildings are now submerged. The water which contains radioactive elements (harmless) and hydrogen sulphur are believed to cure rheumatism, skin disorders, liver, spleen and bowel complaints, as well as being beneficial for nervous and digestive disorders.
The Moonlight Trip - when the full moon arises in the sky and the cliffs where the ancient Lykian Kings have been buried in their tombs for thousands of years you will board a boat at the river. The tour starts at about 8 pm at night from the harbour and cruises along the riverbed towards Köycegiz Lake. A Turkish Barbeque is provided on board and you can swim by the boat or dance and drink through the night to music. The cruise finishes around midnight but that's about the time the nightlife is really getting going in Dalyan.
Bakardi Bay Trip - takes you just south of Asi Bay between Dalyan and Sarigerme. A paradise for people who love nature. Swimming and snorkelling in the clean seawater of Bacardi Bay. And the best part of the trip is the barbeque prepared with traditional Turkish fare. Its lush meal with lots of spices. You will never ever regret having spent a day doing one of these boat trips. A very queit and very secluded beach more for nature lovers than sun-bathers who wish to lie on a beach chair in the sun. The clear aquamarine blue water is certainly inviting for those who would like to swim or snorkel.
Ekincik Bay Trip - an excellent place to relax and take a break for swimming and sunbathing. After that you'll go to the underwater caves which is a really interesting place to go snorkeling. You will be awed at the fantastic beauty of these under water caves. You will also be able to enjoy a traditional Turkish barbeque on the beach during this tour as well. With a return to Dalyan at about 5 pm in the afternoon, it makes for a great day in the sun.
Iztuzu Beach Trip - It takes only takes approximately 30 minutes to get to Iztuzu Beach, winding the way down the channel, through the rustling reeds to the open tip of the beach. Chaise lounges and beach umbrellas for rent are available at the beach, and cold drinks and snacks are available. A Turkish style barbeque will be served on the boat.
Sultaniye Trip - takes you to scenic Köycegiz Lake, located near Dalaman International Airport and within a convenient distance of both Fethiye and Marmaris, but closest to Dalyan, is well known for its natural hot springs and mud baths. The waters of Sultaniye are good for both bathing and drinking. The treatment consists of covering the body with a layer of mud and then soaking in the hot mineral water. You will spend hours at the Sultaniye mud baths, swim in Köycegiz Lake and enjoy a Turkish Barbeque on the boat.
The Köycegiz Market Trip - travels across the lake to Köycegiz. Old Köycegiz was once a thriving town on the south coast of Turkey. The original Köycegiz was owned by the Selçuk people before the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. The people of Selçuk known as the 'Mentese Ogullari' were a very rich and owned land covering the area from Iztuzu Beach to the other side of the present Köycegiz.
The end came for this thriving people when an earthquake filled the valleys to create what is now Lake Köycegiz. Only half of the old town still exists. This area is now protected and the original descendants of the ''Mentese Ogullari'' occupy the dwellings.
Köycegiz Market boat trip travels on Lake Köycegiz over the area where half of Old Köycegiz once was. When you arrive in Köycegiz there is time to walk to the Pazar and shop with the locals that come here every Monday for the weekly market. A couple of hours later the boat leaves and goes back towards Dalyan with a stop at the Mud Baths and an onboard barbeque lunch before returning to the boat jetty at about 5 pm in the afternoon.
Jeep Tours on the south coast of Turkey are always spectacular. During a one day jeep safari you will make stops for swimming in Köycegiz Lake which is a clear fresh 12 kilometer long lake, stroll through an ancient amber forest whose trees provide oil for cosmetic annd medical purposes, visit a clear water spring which is the source of a local river, have lunch in Yuvarlakçay at a restaurant built out of wood over the top of a river, or enjoy a barbeque on Asi Beach.
Stop by a typical Turkish family's house for tea, and in the late afternoon visit a secluded Aşi Beach in the rough mountains behind Dalyan, look from a mountain peak overlooking Dalyan, the delta 560 meters above sea level. In between these stops you'll splash through numerous rivers and drive along some beautiful remote tracks. By days end you'll have seen the more remote regions only reachable by jeep, explored little known areas, and deserted places of spectacular natural beauty.
You'll leave early in the morning and be back to Dalyan by late in the afternoon. Wear old clothes; t-shirt, shorts, and sport shoes. Bring along a lightweight jacket or sweater, sun lotion, and sunglasses. Expect to be back in Dalyan for a much needed nap before getting ready to go out for the evening.
There are a number of great day treks that originate in Çandir. There is a trek up over the mountain to Ekincik where you will be picked up by a boat for a barbeque on the beach and returned to Dalyan via Iztuzu Beach and through the reed beds. Other treks which take usually about 2-3 hours are from Çandir to the old cemetary where you can see Rhodes on a clear day, or to the viewpoint from which you overlook Iztuzu Beach and back over Dalyan. These can include a stroll through the ruins of Kaunos should you like to spend some time in the midst of this Lycian antiquity.
From Dalyan you can walk to Gökbel and on to Iztuzu Beach, or a number of other spectacular destinations such as the upper village in Gökbel and over towards Aşi Beach. The mountains around Dalyan in areas like Gökbel are full of enough less traveled roads and paths to spend weeks covering. This area has many breathtaking views, vistas and out of the way destinations, and all are easily accessed from Dalyan.
There are numerous excellent treks that can be made from Okçular. These have been detailed in a guidebook written by Alan Fenn, a resident of the Kocadere Valley in Okçular. His book is available at the Ley Ley Restaurant in Okçular. In his book the author provides details of 6 different treks varying in distance and difficulty and also provides maps for each.
The Lycian Way is a 509 km way-marked footpath around the coast of Lycia in southern Turkey, from Fethiye to Antalya. The route is graded medium to hard; it is not level walking, but has many ascents and descents as it approaches and veers away from the sea. It is easier at the start near Fethiye and gets more difficult as it progresses. We recommend walking the route in spring or autumn; February-May or September-November; summer in Lycia is hot, although you could walk short, shady sections. The route is mainly over footpaths and mule trails; it is mostly over limestone and often hard and stony underfoot.
On the first part of the route, and in Patara, Kalkan, Kaş, Myra, Finike, Adrasan, Olympos, Çirali and Tekirova, you can stay in pensions or small hotels. On other nights, you may stay in a village house, or camp out. There are plenty of camping places with nearby water mentioned in the book; you do not have to ask permission to camp out...lycianway.com
The St Paul Trail is a way-marked footpath from Perge, 10 km E of Antalya, to Yalvac, NE of Eğirdir Gölü. There is a second branch starting at Aspendos, 40km E of Antalya and joining the first route at the Roman site of Adada. The route totals about 500km.
This project partly follows the route walked by St Paul on his first missionary journey in Asia Minor. It's a wilder route than the Lycian Way, starting at sea level and climbing up to 2200m, with two optional peaks at around 2800m. At the moment there are no signposts on the route but the way-marking is complete. There are also no way-marks on paths through cultural sites... lycianway.com