850 kilometers: 46 days of hiking in Turkey. It’s been a blast. You may wonder, what happened to the Land Cruiser? Weren’t we in Kyrgyzstan? Well, we will tell you all about it in this blog post.
Read More: The End of an Adventure – Kyrgyzstan
On the Trail
Spring is in the air, the landscape an explosion of color. Almond trees are flowering and millions of bees are going totally wild with such rich harvest. It makes us smile to see their frantic rushing from one flower to the next.
Our world consists of olive trees, thorny scrub, and hills covered in jagged rocks. We are glad to be hiking in long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and sturdy shoes. The vegetation is interspersed with remnants of walls and other ruins of ancient and recent settlements. The hard work of hiking through this timeless landscape is amply compensated by jaw-dropping views of the calm, kobalt-blue waters of the Ceramic Gulf.
The trail climbs and descends, weaving its way among boulders and greenery. The rocks that lie scattered across the green landscape are white; on the contrary, those on the trail are brown due to the mudded shoes and cows that have trampled the path. This coloring helps us following it as the typical red-white-striped painted way markers are at times absent or have faded. We spend much time verifying our direction on the GPS.
It’s late afternoon when we set up camp just below the top of a hill, at a clearing under a big tree. We feel the storm coming and know it will hit tonight; we’ll need its protection. To be well prepared, Coen not only hammers pegs into the rocky ground but additionally stacks big boulders on the guy-ropes to keep the tent in place. It’s a trick we learned in Jordan where storms were frequent.
Meanwhile, I walk downhill to an ancient fountain to fill up the water bladders with clean, tasty water. Finding water is no problem on this hike.
Hiking in Turkey
These are some random notes taken during our 46 days of walking the Carian Trail, totaling 850 kilometers. Our third thru-hike has confirmed our passion for long-distance hiking. Three years ago we hesitantly started with a few days of hiking in South Korea’s Seoraksan National park, which led to the 750-km-long Baekdu-daegan Trail.
Read More: Why Hike the Baekdu Daegan
Eager to do more of this stuff, we set out last year and were among the first 100 independent thru-hikers who completed the 650-km-long Jordan Trail.
Read More: Hiking the Jordan Trail
And now, hiking in Turkey. We hiked the Carian Trail in the southwestern corner of the country. Among the reasons for this region was to skip at least part of the severe winter in Central Asia and get to somewhere warmer. We’d had more than our share of snow and freezing temps in Siberia, as low as -40. So we parked the Land Cruiser in Bishkek, hopped on a plane and came here.
The Lycian Way is Turkey’s best known long-distance trail. We had read Ayse’s Trail; One Woman’s Hike through Turkey and Time by Atulya K Bingham (find it here) and would love to hike it. But the season in February is better in the southwest than in the south with fewer severe storms, and so we set on hiking the Carian Trail instead. With spring starting early February with the flowering of almond trees, we’ve appreciated the pleasant temperatures over the last two months.
Read More: Overlanding in a Siberian Winter
Hiking vs. Overlanding
It was interesting to go hiking in Turkey. Fifteen years ago, Turkey was our first non-European country on our 3,5-year overland journey to Southeast Asia. During those three months we drove from west to east while we now hiked only the tiniest fraction of Turkey.
Driving an average of 50 kilometers a day is slow in the overlanders’ world but it allows you to see much more than when you’re hiking an average of 18,5 kilometers day across mountainous footpaths.
You might think you can’t carry much in your overland vehicle – which is probably true compared to your home – but minimizing your stuff and supplies is taken to another level when having to carry it on your back. So you carry as little as possible, which results in stopping much more often than you would in an overland vehicle. On the trail we often took a break in the tiniest villages, to stock up on supplies or grab a bite to eat.
We can’t remember ever having visited a traditional teahouse during our overland trip 16 years ago. During our hike, on the other hand, they were a welcome place to take a break and rest our feet. We’d have a junk food attack on ice cream, potato chips, and chocolate bought at the adjacent bakkal (small shop) while drinking copious amounts of delicious Turkish tea in a kahve (teahouse).
The teahouses are still visited only by men, mostly elderly (as many young people leave the countryside as soon as they can). In the old days this was the place to catch up on the news; today people find that on the Internet. Playing games with Rummikub tiles seems to be the favorite past time, on tables covered with a thick cloth or carpet to minimize the noise of those tiles being slammed on the table.
With regained energy we’d set out for another day or week on the trail until we’d come across yet another teahouse. It’s been a fantastic walk in many different ways.
A Tip on VPN
To our surprise it was impossible to open any Wikipedia page in Turkey. That’s bloody impractical when traveling and you’re looking for information about the country you are traveling in. Fortunately we have VPN installed on our iPhones.
If you are looking for a VPN with great service, we recommend VPN Unlimited. You will be allowed to activate up to 5 devices. Check it out and take it for a spin. VPN Unlimited is cross-platform and offers a 10-day trial for free.
Unsurprisingly, we have many stories to tell and impressions to share, hopefully inspiring you to come and check out the Carian Trail as well. You don’t need to walk 850 kilometers of course, a day or short section through this fabulous landscape and with such kind people will amaze you.
You can find those stories on our Notes on Slow Travel website. Some give impressions about a specific section (like this one about the Ceramic Gulf), others detail kindness of locals we have encountered (like here when we couldn’t get the food we needed).
Read More: Our Gear List for the Carian Trail
Right now we’re holed up in an apartment in the resort town of Alanya, on the south coast of Turkey. We have about ten days to wade through two months of email and check off a To-do list that simply is too long.
Next week we will fly to the Netherlands and spend time with our family and friends for a couple of weeks before reuniting with our Land Cruiser.
May 24-26 we will organize our annual Overland Reunion in the Netherlands. Past, present and future overlanders, we’d love to meet you all. It’s a nice get together in the woods, not a big-set up commercial event.
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