We spent the first ten days of February in and around Antalya, you can read about that here. After Antalya we went to visit Koprulu canyon, which is located halfway between Antalya and Side. We drove to the bridge from where you have a nice view of the canyon.
It’s not possible to walk through the canyon although there are lot of companies in the area that offer a rafting tour of the canyon. Now in the winter of course everything is closed even though the weather was fine. There is a nature park surrounding the canyon and we drove through it. It is a really remote area with few villages that look like time stood still. The area reminded us vaguely of Cappadocia because of its rock formations.
We found a trail through the rock formations and camped in a really off grid area. Not even phone reception, for those occasions we have a small satellite communicator called inReach. It pinpoints our location, we can send a message to a contact person so they now that even if we are unreachable we are ok. They can also send a message back in case of emergency and there is a SOS button on it. If pressed the company that provides the satellite connection sends rescue workers to our location. We of course hope to never need it. We also turn it on if we leave the van parked for a longer period of time, like when we visit a city. It is well hidden in the van. If the van does get stolen we can track its location and hopefully get the van back. Anyway we enjoyed a relaxing few days in this area going for a hike and reading.
I also managed, for the first time, to successfully bake a bread on the campfire. So far we had had a lot of difficulty to actually getting the bread dough to rise. Now, instead of using the recipe for bread, I used the recipe for pizza dough, which tastes the same. And it worked! It tasted great, still warm with the melting butter, mmm, yummie.
After a relaxing few days we drove back to civilization and on to Side and Manavgat. Especially Side is really touristic and basically one big open air museum. A lot of buildings from the Roman era are still around.
We also visited the old harbour where we had lunch. Restaurants were only allowed to open for take out, dining inside was not allowed. But this restaurant owner had found a creative solution for that. He gave us foldable chairs so we could sit and relax near the harbour. When they brought us our food we also got a table. So while dining inside wasn’t allowed, we dined out! Picnicking is very common in Turkey and not forbidden. The food was great and we had a seafront table 😉 Of course this solution only works when the weather is nice. We bought Sultan tea at a store, a very colourful powder apparently made from dried fruits and good for all kind of illnesses, including covid…. we spend a bit more on it than we wanted too. In these touristic areas you can really feel the desperation of the shop owners and to be honest I felt sorry for them. The Turkish government does give financial aid to companies but it is obviously not enough. Not surprisingly in such a big country that usually sees a lot of tourists. We were stunned by the huge amount of enormous hotels along the coasts. It is difficult to imagine all of them being full in high season (without covid of course). If all the hotels are occupied then the population in most tourist towns probably has tripled. The beaches must be incredible crowded.
After some shopping in Side we drove on to Oymapinar artificial lake. A green area with lots of hills and mountains. Kilian had a bike ride on his now finally repaired bike and we waited out a storm there, safely away from high trees.
We were really taking it easy now and also camped a few days in a forest between Side and Manavgat. The forest consisted of pine trees and dunes and reminded us of the Loonse and Drunense duinen, a nature area in the south of the Netherlands, close to where we lived. Kilian used to go for a bike ride there every Sunday morning with his friends. Well his friends weren’t there but he still got to have a bike ride through the dunes on Sunday! I went along shortly but the sand was too loose for me to ride through. I kept falling over and having to walk parts 🙁 So I returned to the van with Binkie. Binkie had a great time in this area, a beautiful tree to climb and lots of long grasses and plants.
We drove on to Alanya. A nice city with a great shopping area. We also visited the old town but most stores where closed as it was of course out of season. Travelling out of season has its pro’s, it is nice and quiet and no crowds. The downside of course is that quite a few places are closed, now even more so than normal because of you know what. We spend two very unsuccessful days in the area of Alanya trying to find a good place to camp. The hills are simply too steep and too populated. We ended up driving a little back to Side and found a great place to camp near Boztepe, a small town. Here we spend the last days of February just relaxing in the sun wearing our summer clothes and feeling very happy for being able to do so. It was a good thing we enjoyed this because it was about to change… You’ll be able to read more about that in our March blog.