A major drawcard to Turkey for me was the rugged long-distance Lycia Way. The trail, which takes its name from the ancient civilisation that once ruled the region, stretches a few hundred kilometres along the Mediterranean Sea from Ölüdeniz to Hisarçandır. I purchased a copy of Kate Clow’s book in Antalya for the dedicated map and arranged to be dropped off at Ulupınar by a driver from my pansiyon. I had intended to ascend Tahtalidag (Mt Olympos) from Ovacık to Ulupınar but it was snowing and I wasn’t prepared nor motivated for hiking solo in that weather. Instead, I descended to Çıralı and then Olympos via Yanartaş (flaming rock) where, according to Greek mythology, it is believed that the Chimaera fell slain with bow and arrow from Tahtalidag by the noble Bellerophon riding the captured divine winged-horse Pegasus.
Hesiod’s Theogeny describes the Chimaera as an offspring of Typhon the terrible and Echidna the raw-flesh-eating half nymph, half snake. A sibling of Orthus (the hound of Geryones), Cerberus (the fifty-headed brazen-voiced hound of Hades) and the Lernaean Hydra (the guardian of the entrance to the Underworld), the Chimaera was a three-headed fire-breathing creature of Lycia, composed of a lioness’ body with a tail ending in a snake’s head. The third head of a goat arose from the centre of her spine. All that remains of the Chimaera on the mountain side at Yanartaş are dozens of constantly burning small fires from the venting methane of her decay.
The eclectic Kadir’s Treehouses at Olympos came with a recommendation by a turtle-saving mother-of-three I met in Eğirdir on an Eat/Pray/Love inspired jaunt. The only directions she gave me to find it were keep walking through the town – you’ll know it when you see it. She couldn’t have been any more precise. The camp looked like it had been cobbled together from the smashed remains of a Roman chariot race. Wagon wheels supported multi-storey balustrading which shook with every step. Saloon doors were tacked at obtuse angles to cover up breezy holes in the walls. Chickens, ducks and peacocks crawled over scattered terracotta pots. It was only the science fictional solar panels that cemented reality.
Over a complimentary vegetarian dinner provided by the camp I chatted to Danish Eva. She was still spaced from a joint she’d smoked earlier in the day to see an Olympos rockclimbing resident off to Kathmandu after four years in a tent. I was offered a sage and honey tea, of which had been freshly picked whilst she was cleaning up rubbish around the nearby Roman antique city. Eva had quit her job as a music teacher to autistic children and after a few days of not showering, a couple of weeks of sleeping beyond lunch and several thousand words of mysterious writing, she was getting ready to head to South Africa.
From Olympos I spent a day on an out-and-back wander towards Tekirova along the turquoise Atbuku coast, taking photos of the flotsam and jetsam. The following day I ascended Musadag (Moses Mountain), with a stray dog in the lead, to a shepherd’s hut and then descended to the Adrasan valley where I stayed in a bungalow on the beach. From there I took a dolmuş onward to Kaş.