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A Cruise on The Dalyan River
My honeymoon was amazing. No, I didn't get married, but due to a weird set of circumstances, here I am with my friend in #Turkey. We spent our time being #active, sailing, layering mud all over our bodies, and sunning ourselves on some of the world's best #beaches.
Last month, I was lucky enough to go on a wonderful honeymoon. Even though I’m not married. Now, before you start thinking I crashed some poor, hapless soul's first few weeks of wedded bliss, (“Hi guys, where are we sleeping?”) let me quickly explain! A dear friend of mine has had a pretty crap year and to cut a long story short, her honeymoon to Turkey was booked and awaiting… but the original partner was no longer invited. She was in the market for a new partner in crime, so when she asked me, I did what any Travelette would do – dusted off my backpack, asked the time of the flight and made a solemn vow that she was going to have the best honeymoon of her life!
One of the refreshing things for me about our Turkish trip was that, for once, I hadn’t had to do any organising or research. Although I’m not a rigid planner and like to stay free and easy to see how I feel on any given day, I do find having a loose plan of what I’d like to see and do stops me from missing out on amazing stuff… But this time, the apartment was booked, my friend knew the area and had a few ideas on things she wanted to do, so I was able to relax and go with the flow. Happy days!
And this brings us to Dalyan. Dalyan is a town nestled between Marmaris and Fethiye, down on the glorious Mediterranean south-west coast of Turkey – a stretch of coast that has earned itself the moniker "The Turquoise Coast" for its dazzling sea views and crystalline waters. But life in Dalyan does not revolve around the beach so much as around the mighty river that flows past the town.
Dalyan & Turtle Beach Tour in Marmaris
Chios Tour From Cesme
Traditional Turkish Bath
Renowned for its abundance of fish, turtles, sea snakes and mind-blowing natural scenery, a rugged landscape of craggy mountains and smooth, glittering waters, the Dalyan river is a boat-tripping dream. It’s easy to book boat trips a day or two in advance – ask through your accommodation or at any travel agent. The boats are furnished with Turkish rugs and come with refreshments to purchase, so you can sip wine as you cruise and live out any Queen of the Nile (or Dalyan) fantasies.
As we set off down the river, ripples cut across the glassy waters, gleaming sapphire in the morning light. We spotted a few of the famous, endangered loggerhead turtles and a skinny little sea snake cutting through the water, head poking out above the surface; the scenery was spectacular, the river acting as a giant mirror for all the vivid greens and blues of the surrounding landscape.
Our first stop was the sulphuric mud baths of Dalyan. I’d never experienced this sort of thing before but any initial ideas of a relaxing wallow, happy as a pig in the proverbial, were greatly mistaken. It was utterly hilarious. You are supposed to cover yourself in the mud before allowing it to dry in the hot sun. I suppose the idea is once you wash it off, you are meant to emerge sylph-like and silky-smooth – mud is apparently excellent for the skin. Unfortunately, the sulphur meant that it stank like rotten eggs, the sucking and pulling at your feet felt like tiny little mud monsters poking you, and my friend got her legs stuck at an awkward angle and thought she was sinking. Of course, in the end we just embraced our inner cave-woman and slathered the stuff all over us – when in Rome! Although it was a good laugh, I would definitely recommend getting there super early or out of peak season – the mud baths are small and can get crowded.
Mud washed off, we headed onwards, the rippling breeze giving us a welcome respite from the heat of the day. As the river meandered lazily, it brought us close to the sheer, rugged cliffs where another of Dalyan’s key sights can be spotted. Six ornate, Lycian tombs have been carved into the rock, presiding over the river like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. These impressive tombs are the ancient resting place of the Kings of Kaunos and are thought to date back to 400 BC. Once upon a time they would have been filled with treasure belonging to the king or queen entombed inside, but looters have long-since ransacked the riches.
After a tasty fish luncheon – Turkish food is to die for – we headed to Izutu beach for an afternoon of sun, sea and sand, my favourite combination! Izutu Beach is also known as the turtle beach – by day it belongs to the people, but by night the turtles take back their land. This 4.5 km stretch of shimmering sand is one of the most beautiful beaches in Turkey, with great swimming – it does get very popular but definitely made for a wonderful afternoon.
Izutu is also a famous, protected nesting site for the loggerheads and certain parts of the beach are carefully watched to allow the nests to remain undisturbed; due to these conservation efforts, there is a nominal fee to use the beach but nothing to write home about and all for a good cause.
Then it was back to the boat for a glass of vino straight out of the chiller and our slow but steady cruise back to the port. At this time of the day, the river had changed from a deep blue to a shimmering emerald – just the sort of heavenly view to finish off a heavenly day. Thanks Dalyan – one of the highlights of my honeymoon.
All pics by Alex Saint except images at the mud baths, those were purchased from our boat trip.