Written by Owen Lipsett on 02 Dec, 2009
It's impossible to visit Kabak without visiting Fethiye first, so here are some tips to make your time there more enjoyable. Note that the nearest airport is in Dalaman (about an hour away by minibus) and that the otogar (bus station) is a couple…Read More
It's impossible to visit Kabak without visiting Fethiye first, so here are some tips to make your time there more enjoyable. Note that the nearest airport is in Dalaman (about an hour away by minibus) and that the otogar (bus station) is a couple of kilometers away from the center, although if you are staying in Fethiye you can catch a dolmus into town. Most long distance bus companies also provide a servis (feeder) minibus which will take you to your destination on presentation of your original bus ticket.Fethiye Itself:Fethiye is a reasonably pleasant small port that is primarily a resort center for the beaches in the surrounding region. The only historical sights of note in the town itself is the remains of the Lycian city of Telmessos, which includes an amphitheater and several rock tombs. There's an entrance fee to the Tomb of Amyntas, but as you can more or less see everything from the road it's not worth paying the extra fee to visit. Fethiye is also the point of departure for a pair of popular day boat trips, one goes to Faralya and the Butterly Valley while the other visits 12 islands in Fethiye Bay and hence is known as the "12 Islands Tour." Each should cost no more than 25 TL (if you're paying more it means someone is taking a commission!) and includes lunch and several opportunities to go swimming in the sea. However, you should check before taking one whether it includes loud music as well! (Drinks are extra).
Kaya Koyu and Oludeniz:The abandoned village of Kaya Koyu is either long walk (along the Lycian Way) or a short dolmus ride from Fethiye (the dolmuses run approximately on the half hour in summer). During the Ottoman Empire, Kaya Koyu was the Ottoman Greek village of Levissi. After the Turkish War of Independence, Turkey expelled its "Greek" inhabitants while Greece expelled its "Turkish" inhabitants in the so-called population exchange, in which the only criterion was religion, with the result that many people found themselves in countries whose language they did not speak, not to mention significant economic hardship. Since there were far more Greeks in Turkey than vice versa, villages like this one were abandoned.
Officially, it costs 8 TL to enter, but if you follow the Lycian Way as you enter the village you won't have to pay - this is the best way to enter anyway as it leads to a lovely (and for the most part clearly marked) path over a mountain that takes you to the white sound lagoon of Oludeniz in an hour and a half with numerous beautiful views on the way. Oludeniz is one of Turkey's prettiest beaches and unfortunately also one of the most crowded and as a result the water can be disconcertingly murky. It's also one of the best places in Turkey to go paragliding, although as I didn't do so personally I can't vouch for this. Dolmuses run back to Fethiye from the beach, through the concrete resort dormitories of Hisaronu and Ovacik, whenever they're full.
XanthosThe most interesting ruins in the general vicinity of Fethiye are the Lycian, Greek, and Roman ruins at Xanthos, near the village of Kinik. To get there, you can take a dolmus to Kinik or sign up for one of the tours that visits them and the cool waters of the Saklikent Gorge (itself a pleasant experience, particularly on a hot summer day). The Xanthians were one of the members of the Lycian Confederation and are perhaps best known for committing suicide and setting their city on fire twice rather than surrender to enemies. Given this tragic history, it's perhaps appropriate that Xanthos has a marvelous collection of Lycian Rock tombs. It also offers a nice viewpoint over the appropriately windy Meander River (from which the English word comes), known as the Menderes in Turkish. Admission is 3 TL.
At the moment, Kabak is a relatively unknown and low-key, barely featuring, if at all, in most guidebooks. This is almost certain to change, but not in the conventional way that such places are "discovered." At present, it's a pleasant alternative to both…Read More
At the moment, Kabak is a relatively unknown and low-key, barely featuring, if at all, in most guidebooks. This is almost certain to change, but not in the conventional way that such places are "discovered." At present, it's a pleasant alternative to both Faralya and Olympos, which were formerly similar seaside hideaways but which have since morphed into well-established backpacker hangouts but also lost some of their prior charm. However, for a variety of reasons, while Kabak may come to be more developed, it is relatively unlikely to come to resemble either. This is a cause for both hope and concern.Kabak's relative isolation and peace are, together with its natural beauty, its most appealing aspects to travelers. A local activist explained to me that attracting visitors is of particular importance to Kabak, since as a struggling agricultural community with relatively poor and hilly land (honey appears to be the main local crop) it cannot depend on farming alone for income, while the camps provide much-needed employment for its residents, albeit only seasonal. While the camps could further contribute to the community by purchasing food that is grown locally, many (the Olive Garden is an exception) are owned by Istanbullus who purchase industrially grown produce in Fethiye. In addition, several do not properly dispose of their garbage, with the result that areas of the road close to them can be filthy.The land itself poses three further problems. First, Kabak's beach, while pleasant, is relatively small, and given how packed I found it in October, I doubt that it can sustain much greater usage than it currently experiences when the camps are full in the summer. Second, technically speaking, the land in the Valley is protected, meaning that permanent structures are prohibited, although it appears that this restriction has been flouted in certain cases. (Several people I spoke to alleged that bribery was involved and that the proprietors of the camp in question, noted for its loud music and littering, also condoned drug dealing). Third, property developers have begun to buy up the farmland above the Valley, with a three-star hotel planned for the area at the top of the Valley. Considering how uneconomical farming the land is, such sales are understandable, indeed Mr. Canözü has a sign at The Olive Garden offering family land for sale. Unfortunately, they have the capacity to destroy what makes Kabak appealing without delivering much benefit to the local community.When I visited, there was a feeling of resignation that development may well come, probably accompanied by a clearing of the camps in the Valley, and the conversion of Kabak into an expensive and exclusive destination. However, there is also the possibility that the camps themselves may render the Valley sufficiently unattractive as to discourage much more development, which more or less describes the status quo. A more appealing possibility would be for Kabak to develop as a sustainable tourism destination, with people staying for an extended period to hike a growing network of waymarked trails in the vicinity while also eating locally grown food. This sort of development, which the activist with whom I spoke is seeking to develop, would both serve to give local farmers a non-barter market for their product and also extend the tourist season beyond the summer months. I hope you'll visit Kabak and also keep these concerns in mind when choosing your accomodation there. Close
Kabak is mostly known as a place to stop off along the (which is certainly worth doing!) but it’s also a nice base for several walks, both on and off the Lycian Way. I have placed these walks in order from easiest to…Read More
Kabak is mostly known as a place to stop off along the (which is certainly worth doing!) but it’s also a nice base for several walks, both on and off the Lycian Way. I have placed these walks in order from easiest to hardest – some are just a few minutes, some take all day. Whichever one you choose to take, be sure to take water. You can pick up a 1.5 L bottle for 2 TL at The Olive Garden or Deniz Market.For the Lycian Way as a whole, please refer to , although to be honest the route in many cases is not well way-marked and uninteresting (it is more about getting from one place to another than the most scenic route). Maps of more interesting routes will hopefully soon be available at The Olive Garden.
1. The CaveWalk to the far side of Kabak’s Beach (if you are staying at the top of the valley follow Walk 2 (below) to get there) then walk along the edge of the forest for a nice view of the beach a a sea cave. This takes about half an hour each way.
2. Path from Kabak’s Road to Kabak’s Beach: To take this path (approximately 20 minutes going down, 40 minutes coming up) after leaving the dolmus walk back to Mama’s House (which the dolmus passes on its way in), then turn left and follow an overgrown road to The Olive Garden. Turn right past the toilets and kitchen house and follow the pathway down – from this point it is well marked. This path is nominally part of a branch of the Lycian Way and is of primary interest as a short-cut to Kabak’s beach. However it’s quite enjoyable in its own right in that it lets you see the beach and valley from a variety of angles. Disappointingly, you’ll also see a lot of trash left by the camps in the valley.
3. From Kabak to Faralya on the Lycian WayTo reach this path you’ll need to be at the top of the valley. The entry point (well marked) is on the far side of the road, but to follow the path (a relatively straightforward hour and a half) you should get directions from a proper guidebook. At George House in Faralya (no website), buy a water and ask for the waymarkings on a much more interesting version of the same hike that runs by the water (this may be available at Olive Garden soon). The hike from Kabak to Faralya on the Lycian Way takes no more than a couple of hours, the alternative hike takes two and a half to four and is more challenging.
4. The Waterfall From the beach, follow the rocks past Shanti Camp and then a path through woodland (this is also the path to Alinca (see #5 below), there is a turn off into an old riverbed that leads to a waterfall. This path can be done without guidance, although camp proprietors recommend following someone who knows the way. In addition, the waterfall is no particularly impressive and may be completely dried up (as it was on my visit in October 2009, for which reason I didn’t do this trip.)5. Kabak to Alinca This hike is best done from the beach, as that is both quicker and avoids some brutal climbing over the end of the Valley that has no shade (although the views are magnificent) which you encounter if you go from the top of the Valley. Again, proper directions are essential. This walk is extremely challenging and involves climbing in places, and is more often done in reverse (people get transport to Alinca and then hike to Kabak). It’s possible to hike there an back in a single day, although that requires a high level of fitness and flexibility.
What and Where Is Kabak?Kabak is a tiny village at the very end of the dolmus (local minibus) line (and the end of the road) from Fethiye, the main resort town of Mugla Province on Turkey's Western Mediterranean. Village is actually a slight exaggeration…Read More
What and Where Is Kabak?Kabak is a tiny village at the very end of the dolmus (local minibus) line (and the end of the road) from Fethiye, the main resort town of Mugla Province on Turkey's Western Mediterranean. Village is actually a slight exaggeration - it consists of a shop ("Denis Market") and a restaurant (fittingly called "The End of the Road Cafe") overlooking a valley and various "camps" spread out across the side and bottom of the valley, which ends in a white sand beach. Strictly speaking, the land at the bottom of the valley (by the beach) is under a protection order so all structures there are supposedly temporary, with the result that accommodation is generally in tents, although most camps allow you to bring your own as well. Most camps are open between May or June and early October and the sea is warm enough to swim in for this entire period. Hiking is most pleasant after September, although it can even be uncomfortably hot outside of the shade in October.
Activities in Kabak: When I asked Omer, my otherwise courteous landlord in Fethiye, to reserve a cabin for me for 3 nights at Kabak's Olive Garden he responded that "It's just a beach and some mountains, what could you possibly want to spend more than a day doing there?" This is a slight exaggeration: the mountains include several enjoyable hiking trails of varying degrees of difficulty, you can take boat trips from the beach to the two nearest bays, and there are also yoga and holistic healing classes by the beach at the Shanti Garden Camp. Their website also contains a useful list of activities, although Oludeniz is much further away than the 20 minutes they advertise!
Getting to Kabak: By far the easiest way to get to Kabak is by dolmus from Fethiye – the dolmuses leave from the minibus station and pass the main otogar (main bus station). At the moment, these buses run at 7 am, 11 am, and 5 pm from Fethiye, with additional departures at 1 pm and 3 pm in the summer, although these timetables tend to be subject to variation. You can also drive to Kabak along the coastal road, which winds around mountainsides and sometimes only has one working lane (total, not in each direction!) If you’re driving, keep in mind that there’s no parking at most of the camps in the bottom of the valley. You could also walk the Lycian Way from Fethiye or Faralya, although it’s a more enjoyable walk coming from Kabak (or Alinca).
Practicalities: As small as Kabak is, bear in mind that it has two parts. Deniz Market, The End of the Road Café, The Olive Garden (which has both a restaurant and cabins) and Mama’s Restaurant (which also has rooms) are at the top of the Kabak Valley. The other camps are at the bottom of the Kabak Valley. To get between them you can either take the shortcut that goes from behind Mama’s Restaurant and the Olive Garden (about 10 minutes down and 20 minutes up) or the one-way private road (foot only) which takes two to three times as long (and has very little shade). While the beach is obviously at the bottom of the Valley, Deniz Market is at the top of the Valley. All the camps offer inexpensive half-board and most offer rather more expensive lunches. As you might expect, prices at Deniz Market for non-locally produced items, such as bottled water, are much higher than in Fethiye. Locally produced bread, cheese, butter, jam, honey, fruit, and olive oil are quite inexpensive, however, which is handy if you'd like to take a picnic. Close
Written by Antioch Yossarian on 02 Aug, 2000
'You will never be so clean again!' The flier was stapled to a post not far from the harbor. 'Just once have an original Turkish Bath in Fethiye.' Docked for the afternoon, we had a few hours to kill, and the advertisement seemed insistent enough.…Read More
'You will never be so clean again!' The flier was stapled to a post not far from the harbor. 'Just once have an original Turkish Bath in Fethiye.' Docked for the afternoon, we had a few hours to kill, and the advertisement seemed insistent enough. 'If you want to be born again. You must try a Turkish Bath and then you'll see we are right.' Later, we'd find this same enthusiasm attached to rugs, tea and the Koran. And, I must admit, they are right.
The Hamam we visited in Paspatur Bazar was supposedly 400 years old, and judging by the historical relevance of Turkey and all the nations who have trooped through there, I believe it. Many of the larger towns have Hamami, with the exception of a few villages on the coast, built by Greeks, who bathed in other, less infamous ways. You can spot a Turkish bath by its roof, a series of domes. If there's a minaret attached to the domes, it's a mosque and you probably won't get a rubdown.
A Hamam is essentially a bathing place for men and women, sometimes separate, sometimes family-style. We opted for the latter, counting on safety in numbers and still hanging onto some Midnight Express fears. You turn in your clothes at the front for a Peshtemal, what they term a 'thin, wraparound sarong.' You'd probably call it a dishtowel. Women are usually required to wear bathing suits. But, men bathe a'la Peshtemal.
Most Hamami have several chambers of varying temperatures. A hot room, a warm room, a cold room and a big marble slab called a Göbek Tashi or Naval Stone, where the fun takes place. We walked down a foggy tunnel, through some short doors, into more dense heat and wetness and ended up in a humid mini-cathedral. The light was natural, drifting in from holes cut in the dome above. While we sweated it out, waiting for we didn't know what, we teased each other with bowlfulls of water from various ornate spigots sticking out of the marble walls. The water pressure is nothing to cheer about, but the copper bowls are novel and the humidity begins its task of steam-cooking your brain into blissfully soft couscous.
After about 20 numbly warm minutes, a Tellak shows up, your masseur for the moment. If you've never been rubbed down by a half-naked, heavy, hairy Turk, you’re like most of us. And you can understand the apprehension one might feel when a Tellak points his beefy finger and gestures over to the Göbek Tashi. In retrospect, my suggestion for picking a Tellak is this: the older and the hairier the better. It may not be the top of your list initially. But believe me, you get some hairless, young guy and he probably hasn't been doing this long enough to really rub you down. The best idea is to give in and have faith that your friends will help you if anything funny happens.
So you lie on the wet marble and right away, off goes your Peshtemal, and on goes his Kese. Don’t worry, it’s just an abrasive oven-mitt/loofah thing. With that Kese, your Tellak rubs the bejesus out of you, taking off a few dozen dead skin layers. Arms, legs, the works, then a roll over and no, not down there. You're feeling a bit tingly, your friends are giggling, watching you, awaiting their turn and your Tellak shouts, 'Douche!' and you hop over to shower off. Then you realize how much skin you've lost. You're not raw or in pain. It's just that you are covered with these pills of skin and you wonder where it all came from. Supposedly it's great for a suntan. The proprietors suggest you use the Hamam about your fourth day of tanning, to take away the dead skin and grime, but leave the tan intact, have another Hamam the ninth day, then finish tanning a few more days and go home looking like Atatürk. They sell Keses at the desk so you can try it yourself. The brochure suggests, 'getting your partner to rub you don, good fun, eh!'
This next part is quite special. You're back, flat on the Göbek Tashi, trying to find your measly Peshtemal, and by now your Tellak has prepared a big bagfull of suds, which he wrings over you, head to toe. I call it the Palmolive Treatment. My friend described as feeling like a slippery seal. Then, things get physical. Don't expect a gentle massage, these are Turks: big, hairy men with mustaches and a reputation for punching people in parliament. 'Their technique owes more to medieval rack-and-wheel practices, than to the 'new age',' boasts the brochure. The Tellak, if he's old and hairy, kneads you all over, twisting you here and there and letting you slide all over the Göbek Tashi. Then I got this crazy back crack that almost ruined the experience. He laid me down, crossed my arms, shoved on my elbows and snap! Domes echo and I heard my spine realign like a bullwhip. If you can wiggle your toes, you haven't sustained any permanent injury. Just get up slowly.
We had the bath all to ourselves. Try to arrange it this way on your first visit. We heard stories of individuals wandering into baths crowded with locals and being privy to more Turkish culture than they were ready for. The Turks are a pious people and fastidious about hygiene. Staying clean is almost a holy act. Some Muslim Turks wash up five times a day. And that hygenic preoccupation extends to shaving; rather extensive shaving at that. One British woman we heard of was approached with an open razor by a well-meaning matron and urged to get rid of that forest down below. You want to avoid Fridays, too. Muslims have their ritual ablutions and get huffy if they must share water with infidels. A book store owner in Antalya also cautioned us about going to the baths after 9PM, for less theological reasons. 'That's when the orgies begin.'
After you've been scoured and soaped and splashed, the only thing left is to be dressed like a Pharaoh in a big Havlu towel, and sat down in the Soukluk, a cool room where you're served apple tea. The Hamam sort of ties together all the best parts of Turkey: the history, the sensuousness, the tea, the hairy men and even a bit of spirituality. Your mind is quite peaceful, as you sit shrouded with your pals, warm and clean. Perhaps the only thing you can think about is the taste of the tea, the content of your body and perhaps a consideration of when you might have your next Hamam. 'When you leave it will be as if you have been to heaven.' True, I had never imagined it so hot and hairy, but if Heaven feels anything like this, I now have a tangible motivation to be pure, virtuous and stop coveting postpubescent parochial schoolgirls.