Out of all places I’ve been to, two have the magic power to stop the time. One is Mount Olympus in Greece. The other one is Saklikent Gorge in Turkey. These places have a strange power to bring happiness and peace in your soul. For the entire time you are there, you feel like living an eternal moment. Past and future simply disappear. Everything is “now” – pebbles, water, butterflies, lizards, all beings and non-beings altogether lose their identities to merge into the moment. Located in the Fethyie Saklikent Milli Park, this canyon is a must-see for everyone who could use some balance in their life.
Why Visit Saklikent Gorge in Fethiye?
The Saklikent Gorge experience consists of walking through a river. You’ll walk through ice cold water for as much as you can. You can stop whenever you want, but you need to return the same way, as there’s no other route. In my opinion, this is one of the best places to visit in Turkey, particularly if you target the southern part of the country.
Alternatively, you can get an inflatable tube and try to paddle along the fast water stream. By the time I visited Saklikent Gorge, this option was not available. Turkey, and the entire world for that matter, was way less touristy before the low cost flights era.
The gorge is 20 km long, the longest in Turkey and the second-longest in Europe. Only about 4km of it are walkable. Quite enough, I must say, as it takes almost two hours to do it, then another hour to return.
If you fear walking through cold water will make you ill, don’t worry about it. After the first 15 minutes, you won’t feel it that cold any longer.
How To Get to Saklikent Gorge?
There are tours you can book in either Kalkan Kas, Fethiye, Oludeniz, Kayakoy or other neighboring towns. For instance, check out this full day tour from Kalkan or Patara. You’ll walk through the Saklikent Canyon, but also visit the city of Xantos and the magnificent Patara beach.
We had our own car.In fact, we took a long road trip, starting from Bucharest, in Romania, passing through Bulgaria, then entering Turkey through Edirne. From Edirne, we drove all the way to Canakkale, we took a ferry, and we stopped for one night somewhere after Izmir. The next day, we drove to Olu Deniz, where we stayed for the most part of our vacation.
Tours are good, however, if you don’t have a car or you can’t be bothered driving. Just get used to the idea that on your way back you’ll most probably stop at some carpet factory. Tour operators have deals to supply such outlets batches of fresh tourists with wallets ready to open to the art of persuasion Turkish people seem to be masters of.
How to Find the Saklikent Gorge Canyon
Saklikent is at 40 minutes from Fethiye and one hour from Oludeniz, by car. It makes an awesome day trip, as the entire national park is stunningly beautiful. You don’t need to bring food with you, because there are heaps of restaurants built over the river at the gorge entrance. When I’ve visited this area, the GPS was in its infancy, so we had to find our way using good old paper maps and asking the locals. Today’s technology makes everything easier (beware though, using your mobile data in roaming in Turkey would result in huge bills).
Anyway, once you get there, you’ll find snacks, fresh fish, cold drinks, Turkish coffee and who knows what else. You can find here some more details on how to organize a trip to Fethiye Saklikent Milli Park from the neighboring towns and villages. Alternatively, you can book a tour with one of the many local operators in Turkey.
The Challenge of Walking Through Saklikent Gorge Canyon
If you have rubber shoes, take them, because you’ll walk through water for several hours. Flip flops are not suitable, because the water runs fast and there are a few places where it is quite deep. Not as deep as to fear drowning, but it would reach your thighs. We’ve encountered some solitary flip flops on our way, this is how I know it’s a bad idea. Anyway, it’s not a big deal, you can buy or hire rubber shoes there, in case you forget. Remember to wear sunscreen and a hat, though, as you’ll be walking in full sun for most part of the time.
I’ve been to Saklikent Gorge in mid-June and the water was very cold. However, after the first shock, my feet got used to it. It soon became a nice refreshment to counteract the heat coming from the sun above. It seems that cold water, hot weather and walking on rocks make a great recipe for bringing your mind to peace. For the whole walk, I lived only in the now. I was 100% there, focused on the walk. Everything else vanished. The following quote describes best that moment’s feeling:
“Four snakes gliding up and down a hollow for no purpose that I could see — not to eat, not for love, but only gliding.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
There was no purpose to my walking up the river. I was only gliding. And at the end of the day, I only got half-wet 🙂
Did you ever experience fully living in the present moment? When was it? Let’s talk! Have you ever visited Fethiye or Saklikent Gorge?
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