Day 7: Xanthos to Akbel

Casting early morning shadows

Today’s route started on the same road we came in on and leads to a small village called Çavdir (pronounced: chav-deer). The town has several shops and markets, so it was a great place for us to replenish our bread/cheese/tuna supply. It would probably be much better for us to cook our own food, but the thought of carrying the extra weight of a stove, cooking water, and a pot is not appealing. We’ll continue trying to find hot meals in the villages and eating our own cold food when camping.

We’ve learned a few Turkish words on our journey, and it helps when entering small villages like this. We can just say “Likia Yolu?” and generally get pointed in the right direction of the trail, or we can ask for things like “ekmek” (bread), “peynir” (cheese), “su” (water), or “yemek” (food) and get what we need. The Turkish people have a great tradition of hospitality, and this has been one of our most pleasant discoveries on the trail.

As we left the village we came to a graveyard, and the instructions here became confusing. After 30 minutes of wandering left up the hill per the instructions, we got into a fight and then stopped to eat some breakfast and cool down. We wandered back down to the graveyard and found the trail continues straight, not left along the wall like the book says. It’s become really aggravating at times to manage this trail because we have nothing to go on but the marks and the instructions. About 80% of the time that’s enough, but going through open land, towns, and small goat paths is always a challenge. How we wish we had a map or GPS!

We began to see the boulders from the aqueduct in the ground here, though we wouldn’t know it was that at first. As we kept going, the aqueduct became more distinct, and it was pretty cool to realize what we were walking on. An ancient aqueduct!

We came up to the spring of Inpinar (with water still flowing) and to the right and down saw an old Roman bridge. The birds were singing, we were surrounded by greenery, and the aqueduct trail was simply incredible. It felt wrong to be walking on it, but if it has survived for this long it must be stable enough to handle a few backpackers a year hardy enough to find it.

Crossing Roman aquaduct bridge

The trail goes through quite a bit of scrub, and our skin would have fared better had we worn pants and long sleeves, especially with Betsy’s elbow still healing. We ran into another problem finding the marks as we climbed to the path in the forest. There has been a lot of work here with boulders moved and dirt piled up on the sides of the road, so we don’t know if the trail markers have been moved or if the road has been in this condition for years.

Trail leads through brush

We ended up walking down the dirt road to an option of two paved roads at the bottom of the hill, and we flagged down a car to ask for directions to the next town of Üzümlu. We were told go right and uphill, and while walking that way we eventually saw the marker from the trail lead out to the road. We finally arrived in Üzümlu, stopping to eat some pide (pronounced: pee-day), a Turkish pizza, for lunch. We met a tour guide there who was finishing up with a group from Kaş (pronounced: Cash). We talked about the walk so far and when we mentioned Kabak Beach, she almost swooned. She said she went to visit there and ended up staying one year. How’s that for a testimonial!?

We told her we were planning on arriving in Kaş on October 29 to meet a friend, and she became very excited. “You’ll be there in time for the independence day!” Apparently this day also signifies the official end of the summer tour season, and the whole town goes into a party mode. Something to look forward to!

We began the final walk to Akbel, getting a little turned around after descending to an area with a few houses, but we again just asked the locals where to to and were put back on the trail. We arrived in Akbel at 4:30 p.m. We could see the mosque in front of us, and there was a mark on the right side of the road. We turned and began walking downhill, hoping to find a camp spot soon. After about 20 minutes, we noticed a group of hikers walking the other direction. Hmmmm.

We stopped to ask a restaurant owner if she knew of a camping option or pansiyon in the area, and she said it was uphill about 3 km away. She also told us we were going the wrong way on the trail. This is the problem without a map on a trail that people walk from both ways. It can be very easy to get turned around within a town and go the wrong way!

We backtracked up to the mosque and saw the last moments of the weekly market. Vendors were getting the last bit of business for the day, and we began asking for hotel or camping options. A few people told us to go to the city of Kalkan nearby, but we didn’t have enough daylight to get there. Others gave us conflicting information about potential camping spots. We even went to the mosque to ask for help, but we couldn’t find the imam.

Finally, we met an English-speaking restaurant owner who told us he had walked the Lycian Way himself. He told us where the trail picked up and how to find camping, though it was still a few kilometers away. We thanked him profusely and began walking as fast as our tired legs would take us to beat the sunset. It followed the path for the next day and took us across a highway to a park area. We sighed with relief when we saw the Lycian Way sign and flat ground for camping.

We began setting up the tent in the dusky light, and as we finished a stray dog came up and started sniffing around. He was one of a pack of stray dogs hanging around the highway, and since he seemed harmless we let him stay. He curled up right next to the tent and fell asleep, which was welcome since the area we were in also seemed to be a hangout for young men to drink beer and socialize. Every time someone got close, the dog would growl. There was likely no ill intent at all, but it somehow felt better having our temporary guard dog around.

The laughter and chatter soon died down, the cars drove away, and we were left with our furry friend’s snoring and the light hum of the highway traffic.

Where We Stayed

A camping area next to the highway and on the Lycian Way trail toward Patara, about 30 minutes’ walk outside of Akbel.

Hours Walked

7:30

Perks

We walked on the aqueduct! It really is magnificent to see this close up and how it fits into the surrounding area. We can imagine how it helped the Lycians create sustainable cities and marvel at the ingenuity.

Problems

Warren fell into a thorn bush and scraped up his arm pretty bad. We did get lost a bit, and this affected our ability to find camp before dark, which got a little bit stressful. This is becoming a habit with the hit or miss marks in some areas and no GPS or proper map. You definitely need GPS to stay on track with this walk in certain areas. Our camping area was less than ideal because of the people who kept coming through to socialize (or plot the overthrow of the government, or any number of elaborate theories we came up with as we lay awake in our tent).