I will tell you straight away that this walk was intended to be a lot more than it turned out to be. I set out to climb Mount Babadag and ended up getting about half way there before I lost the track and turned back. So instead of being the tale of my ascent, this blog becomes a tale of the start of the Lycian Way, although one day I will return to climb Mount Babadag, and will also walk more of the Lycian Way.
I was fortunate that where we were staying, the Montana Pines Resort, was also at the beginning of the Lycian Way.
I knew this because there was a great big sign on an archway at the end of the driveway saying as much, which was doubly fortunate because the online information appears to be mixed, with some sources taking the start of the Lycian Way further back to Fethiye, and also have it taking in Oludeniz, even though the major part of that resort appears to be below the main track. Anyway, I did not walk through the archway as that route only led to a pile of earth and some bushes, but instead took the track to the right of it and followed that through the pine trees as I ate an apple. It is an unmade track which is used by vehicles on a regular basis, so the surface is firm, and as a new hotel and spa resort has just been built along the way I suspect more of the track will be made up before too long, which will make it even easier to walk on and a great start to the hiking trail. I had left at 0830, which was later than I had planned, and was already feeling the heat, but at least it was not pouring with rain as it had done when I had walked along here earlier in the week. I also avoided the local herd of goats on my way out, and that treat was saved for my return.
This is a winding track which at all times gives great views down on to the beaches of Oludeniz, including the Blue Lagoon, and that really is a view to behold on a sunny day. The track gradually rises until you reach a signpost, with the direction markers in yellow. One points back the way you have come to Ovacik, one points forward to Babadag and Zirve, and one points off the edge of the cliff towards Oludeniz. I tried to find that path earlier in the week from this point, and all I found was a tortoise. Fortunately, I did not find any scorpions or snakes. When I am here again I will have to try to find it from the beach upwards.
At this stage the path forward is clear to the eye, is well waymarked in any event, and I kept following it as it gently wound its way upwards, starting with some stone steps as it went left underneath an overhang and then turned right to cross a chasm, still with a view of Oludeniz off to my right as it climbed, going through a wooden gate and passing two smaller cisterns as I walked along the red stone path. The second cistern did have a bucket attached to it but one of the guides I read suggested that “the water inside is full of mosquito larvae and stinks to high heaven” so I decided not to use it.
I had my own water with me anyway. The rocks in the track definitely got larger after the second cistern, there was shrubland on either side of the track as I kept going, and before long I arrived at a much larger third cistern, having been walking for 56 minutes. It is difficult to know precisely how far I had walked because Strava had not picked up a GPS signal until some way into the hike (it had me at 1.5 miles, so it was at least that). Anyway, this was a shaded area so I took the opportunity to drink some water and eat another apple, which I thought was a sensible precaution given the dramatic terms of one guide I had read before setting out, “At this point, you have taken about two-thirds of the trail to Kozağaç with about a third more to go. If your water has started to go low, start water saving measures: Drink only when you are really thirsty, drink only one or two gulps, and stop eating snacks. The first (drinkable) water source is in Kozağaç”. I reckoned my supplies would see me through.
I continued on, following the path which was now taking me higher into this part of the mountains, leaving my view of Oludeniz behind me, and as before it was clear enough as well as being very well waymarked on a regular basis. It is worth noting that there are two sets of waymarks along this stretch of the walk from Ovacik, and that these continued until I got to Kozagaci – the half white, half red rectangle for the Lycian Way and green dots for the route to the summit of Mount Babadag.
The path was firm enough, with stone chippings on the surface, and the going was good, especially with it being so dry. I was hot and sweating profusely because of the heat but the walk itself was not a hard one at this stage, with the inclines only gradual, although I was most definitely in the realm and terrain of the mountain goat, and it certainly helped that the path was as straightforward as it was – if you kept going straight on and did not take any forks off the main path then you could feel safe that you were on the right path along this stretch. It took some sharp turns as it climbed and I started to leave the trees and bushes of the mountain shrubland behind me as the incline got steeper, before suddenly the track evened out and the scenery I was walking in became almost desert-like, with cacti at my feet.
The first thing I noticed as I came out into the open were the new houses being built in this area. They will certainly add some confusion to any route directions written before their existence, and I can imagine that once finished they might seem to some to be Kozagaci itself, and I can only hope they do not in any way impede the Lycian Way. For the moment they appeared to be occupied mainly by goats, and also by some cows. This is the beginning of a lovely valley in the shade of the mountains, although the best is yet to come. Now I was walking past fields and stone walls, and had a view of the Babadag ridge ahead of me and the Kidrak valley to my right. I passed a makeshift cafe on my right before taking a fork to the left which took me downhill to a most wonderful view of Kozagaci, looking like a magical lost valley beneath the mountain. Strava had me at 3.1 miles (so I had walked further than that) and it had taken me 1 hour and 46 minutes to get here.
At the bottom of this track is a dirt road above the mountain hamlet of Kozagaci, and here you will find a fountain with drinking water and another yellow signpost for Oludeniz, Kirme, and Babadag and Zirve. I followed the sign to Babadag and Zirve, turning left along a footpath and was now leaving the Lycian Way and following the green dot waymarks towards the summit of Mount Babadag.
I was being very careful to follow the waymarks because the path was not so clear at this stage as it moved through open ground and towards woodland. The guide I was following said it becomes parallel to a tiny stream flowing in winter, but I was not doing this in the winter, and could only hope that I had picked up the correct stream. I believe that I did as I continued to see the occasional green dot on stones, but while the guide stated that I would cross the stream twice, I think I crossed it for a third time while seemingly following the path.
The guide talked about walking across the eroded terrain with reddish coloured rocks, and I was certainly doing that, gaining height as it climbed before it brought me out into open ground and I began to realise this was not where I should be. It had taken me 2 hours and 15 minutes by this point but I appeared to be a valley away from the mountain itself.
I walked around the top before coming back down to the top of the track and turning left, towards the mountain, to see if I could see a way across, but there was nothing in sight. I did, however, notice that the sky was darkening, so decided to retrace my steps to see if I found the correct path on my way back down. As it turned out, I could not even follow the same path I had taken to get up to the top, so I decided to call it a day as the rest of the route to the summit of Mount Babadag was going to be a lot more difficult than this stretch getting to it, and I did not want to be caught out in bad weather.
I got back to the yellow signpost and took the road for Oludeniz, which actually just circled around and brought me to the fork I had taken earlier, nearby to the makeshift cafe. So I would just be following the same route back, which at least made it familiar and would also make it a quick return journey. In fact, my only delay was when I got back to the herd of goats I had missed near the beginning of the trail on my way out in the morning. Now they were all waiting for me, with a dog guarding them which looked an awful lot more like a wolf than a dog, and especially when it bared its teeth and growled as it walked towards me as I got too close. I stopped, and waited for the owners to come and take it away so that I could pass, before I was on my way again and getting back to the Montana Pines Resort just before the rain started to fall. I was disappointed not to have achieved my main aim of climbing Mount Babadag, but it had been an excellent hike anyway through the most beautiful countryside, and I knew I wanted to come back for more.
You can see more of my photographs from the walk here.
You can see more of my photographs from an earlier walk along part of the trail here.