A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of revisiting one of my favorite mountain sites in Turkey. Together with 40 kids, my wife and I trekked to the top of the mountains surrounding the Turkish village of Çıralı and Olympos. This trek is one of the yearly rituals of a youth experience that we help facilitate in the beautiful natural location of Çıralı, Turkey. Even with a relatively young group of children – ages eight to twelve – we were able to make it to the eternal flames that crown the mountains in under 30 minutes of moderate hiking. Every year I am amazed at the view from the lower summit of this mountain. Looking out over the Mediterranean Sea while roasting a marshmallow and recalling the legends of Bellerophon who slayed the infamous Chimera – fire breathing beast with a body of a goat a head of a lion and a tale of a serpent and experiencing it all anew from the perspective of a twelve year old is quite a treat.
If you and your family are interested in trekking and natural wonders this is a site worth visiting. For the small sum of 4 Lira (about $2.50) you can gain entrance to the national park and hike to the top. Some things you will need to enjoy the site include good hiking shoes and a flash light or head light to illuminate the dark smooth rocks. I have on one occasion seen a scorpion by the flames where it was warming itself in the cooler evening weather but for the most part the trail is safe.
The view down over the basin to the sea is a beautiful site and if your evenings in Çıralı are not spent hiking in the mountains of the Chimera you might make your way quietly down to the moonlit shore to spy out a Mediterranean Sea Turtle come ashore to lay it’s eggs in the summer warmth in the months of June and July. Or if your an early morning riser you might consider snorkeling by the peninsula and seeking out the turtles following the warm Mediterranean stream that runs along the South coast of Turkey. Then later on in the week make your way to the West along the Mediterranean coast towards the ruined city of Olympos where you can enjoy an Indiana Jones’esque romp through the ancient Lycian and Hellenistic ruins of a port city famed for it’s navy and battles with pirates. The tombs and temples of the city have a jungle like overgrowth and the hikes in the area leave much to be explored while the coast has a refreshing mixture of cool river water and warm sea water in the hot summer months. For those of you who like cliff jumping there are some wonderful spots for jumping into the sea in this local.
Some of the favorite places to stay include the Turkmen Tree Houses in Olympos, the Canada Hotel in Çıralı – if you are not interested in being on the beach or Uğur Pansiyon if you’d like to stay in Çıralı by the beach.
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