The Lycian Way trail stretches for more than 300 miles and combines the best of Turkey's unspoiled mountain
scenery with hidden beaches and isolated villages. The Sunday Times selected the Lycian Way as one of the
world's 10 best walks, and Country Walking magazine chose it as 15th in the world’s 50 greatest walks. Now, I’ve
never heard of Country Walking, and it sounds to me like a magazine that Laura Ingles from “Little House on the
Prairie” would read, but I have heard of the Sunday Times, and I would venture to guess they do the appropriate
research before bestowing this kind of honor on a walk. So, with their endorsement, and the description from our
Lonely Planet guidebook, Jarrod and I set out to do three sections of the entire Lycian Way, which takes two to
three days.

    We pared down our baggage to the bare minimum, and left the rest in storage in Istanbul, as we would be
passing back through the city in 10 days before flying to Oslo. We took a 12-hour overnight bus to southwest
Turkey. I would be shortchanging you of valuable information if I didn’t take the time to share what a delightful
experience this was. I know you are waiting for the bada-boom-bada-bing punchline here, because who describes
a 12-hour bus ride as delightful? But it honestly was. The bus was new, all the buttons and levers on my seat
worked, there wasn’t a trace of smoke to be detected, and on to the very best part…there was an onboard
attendant who cruised through the bus periodically to offer water, tea, coffee or cola and to pass out little cakes
and cookies. Little Debbie move over! When refreshment time concluded, have no fear, there he was again with
rose scented water to sprinkle on our hands to freshen up with. With this kind of service I could forgive the Turkish
infomercials and sitcoms that blared from the television screens for the first four hours of our trip. I think Jarrod and
I managed about five hours of sleep, which is pretty darn good for being on a bus.

    Unfortunately the bus driver decided it would be too much trouble to exit the highway and take us to our
intended location, which was a city called Esen. Rather, he pulled over on the highway, handed us our luggage,
pointed at a sign that said “Esen” with an arrow pointing to a road off the highway. Ugh. Lucky, it wasn’t more than
a twenty minute walk, and we rather enjoyed being trailed by a small group of boys on their bicycles shouting
“Merhaba!” which is Turkish for hello. As we passed a small house, an elderly gentleman held out a bowl of fruit to
us. We politely declined, first due to the old rule about not accepting food from strangers, and second due to the
fact we weren’t sure if we would need to pay him after accepting the fruit. But he was insistent we each take some
of his fruit (they looked like very small peaches), so we grabbed a few, thanked him and continued on to the center
of Esen. After chatting with a few more locals (it didn’t seem like they saw many Americans in Esen), we found the
only taxi in town and headed off to the trailhead about 25km away in a village called Alinja.  
    We arrived in Alinja a little before noon. Our taxi
driver didn’t know exactly how to get to Bayram’s
House, the guesthouse where we were staying that
night, so he stopped to ask a little boy playing beside
the road who looked to be about five years old. The
boy replied with a bit of directions and pointed up the
road. Then to our astonishment, he ran over and
jumped in the front seat of our taxi. At this point I
was having competing thoughts of “where is this kid’s
mom?”, “really, we’re trusting a 5-year old to get us
where we are going” and finally “I hope this doesn’t
look like a kidnapping to anyone who happens to be
watching”. Keeping up a steady stream of chatter,
the little boy led our driver right to Bayram’s house!

   It all made sense when Bayram came out to greet
us and told us the little boy was his son. Once we got
over our surprise, we looked around. Bayram's house
was located high, high, high on a cliff above the
Aegean Sea. There were only about four houses in
the entire village, and it seemed everyone
congregated at Bayram’s. In addition to his family’s
house, he had a small porch with a picnic table, a
wonderful deck adorned with Turkish rugs and
cushions, and three small cabins which he had built
himself, one of which we would be sleeping in. The
cabins were rustic—just one 7’x6’ foot room with two
thin mattresses on the ground, but the scenery and
the warmth of Bayram and his family more than made
up for the simple accommodations. We settled in at
the picnic table to chat, play with his kids, and admire
the stunning views. It’s hard to believe there is land
like this left in the world without luxury condos or
million dollar mansions built on it. We enjoyed some
of the best food we have had on our trip while at
Bayram’s. They grow almost all of their food in their
garden behind their house. He proudly told us that it
was all organic as well.  For lunch we had a stew of
Bayram's Patio!
Bayram's Patio View!
potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and rice with a slightly spicy seasoning, served with flat bread and a plate full of juicy
red tomato slices. For dinner we had chickpeas in a tomato broth, a bowl of soup that I wish I could identify
because it certainly was tasty, and a chopped salad of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Simple food, but ultra
fresh and expertly prepared!

    We set off on the trek the following morning after a traditional Turkish breakfast. Just about everywhere you go
in Turkey you will be offered a breakfast of a hard-boiled egg, tomato slices, cucumber slices, black olives, a hunk of
white cheese and bread with jam or honey. The trek really was beautiful. It follows an old mule path through cliff-
top pines and down to secluded coves and beaches. Most of the trail is marked quite clearly, and we had no
trouble finding our way for the first three hours. After that, the markers grew scarce, and we found ourselves
backtracking from time to time in order to pick up the trail. By the time we made it to the end of the first day we had
a bone to pick with Lonely Planet. First, this should not be classified as a walk. When I think of a “walk”, I think of
something I could do with my grandparents. Second, Lonely Planet classified this as easy. Let me say that on more
than one occasion I had to either scramble on my hands and knees or scoot down a portion of the trail on my butt.
Having to do either of these activities automatically elevates the difficulty rating of a trail to well above “easy” in my
View of the City of Oludeniz
Kabak Beach
     We stayed at George’s House, another guesthouse along the trail, the second night. George’s house was much
larger, as it offered campgrounds and tree houses in addition to cabins. We didn’t have a tent, and sleeping on a
platform in the middle of a tree didn’t sound safe to me, so we chose the cabin. The food here was also wonderful
(although not as good as Bayram’s if I were forced to vote), but dinner was one of our favorite times. The meal was
served in a large room with windows on three sides looking out to the (name of mountains) and the Butterfly Valley
below. Through the open windows you could hear the monks singing the call to prayer from a nearby monastery.
There was no furniture in the dining room, instead the perimeter of the room was lined with cushions, and a large
rug covered the floor. The food was brought in on round serving trays, which everyone gathered around sitting
crosslegged. There were about 20 travelers staying there. Some were like us, just passing through for one night.
Others were staying put for a week and exploring the surrounding area more thoroughly. We even met a travel
writer, formerly employed by Lonely Planet, who was doing some research for an upcoming article. We shared our
complaint about Lonely Planet’s inaccurate representation of the Lycian Way with her. I am sure she really enjoyed
    The next day was another full day of hiking. After
seven hours we emerged hot, sweaty and tired in
Ovacik, Turkey at the end of the trail. We caught a
local bus to the big bus station. We were lucky—there
was a 14-hour overnight bus departing to
Cappadocia in thirty minutes. The other people on
that bus were not so lucky, as we only had time to
duck into a public restroom for a sink shower before
hopping on the long bus ride. Thank goodness for the
rose scented water!
Dinner at George's House
Lycian Way
Turkish Carpets