Hiking The Lycian Way, Turkey

Turkey is an oft overlooked destination when it comes to hiking holidays. But the varied landscape and long-distance routes on offer in this amazing and historic country make it the perfect place to strap on those walking boots and get out there into the great outdoors. Perhaps one of if not the best hike in Turkey is that which takes you along the Lycian Way, an over 500km way-marked trail along the country’s Mediterranean coast between Oludeniz and Antalya. The mild temperatures mean that this route can be walked year-round, even during the winter. The summer can get too hot though and the route is most pleasant in Spring or Autumn. The Sunday Times called this walk one of the ten most beautiful long-distance hikes in the world.

Walking the whole of the Lycian Way is quite an undertaking. The route is graded medium to hard, and it usually takes around a month to walk. Of course it is entirely possible to walk a smaller section of the walk to take in some of the highlights if you do not have enough time to walk the entire thing. Even walking a small section will give you some insight into the Lycians – the ancient culture which once controlled this region. The route was the brainchild of an Englishwoman, Kate Clow, a passionate walker and conservationist. She said that she wanted the route, which she conceived and helped to create in the 1990s, to give people a little insight into what this coastline would have been like a thousand years ago.

It is possible to walk this route independently or to go as part of a tour, or with the help of a company who will transport your baggage for you from one hotel, guesthouse or village house to the next. If you are of a more independent bent then it is very easy to find wild camping spots near sites where you will be able to replenish your water supply.

There are many highlights on the route. You may choose the mountainous alternative route and go inland to climb Mount Olympos, where staggering views are to be had. Still, the coast yields plenty of highlights including the ruins and beach at Patara, the harbour, sunken ruins and castle at Ucagiz, and a swim in the Goynuk canyon. Further round the coast you will find the ancient ruins of Olympos and Phaselis and the wild, beautiful Gelidonya Peninsula with a lighthouse and a graveyard of ancient ships. Be sure to take a slight detour to see the Chimera, an eternal flame that has inspired myth and legend. The coastal stretch between Kas and Uchaz is particularly pleasing and scenic and the walk through cedar forests between Mira and Finike has particularly fine views.

Really there are too many highlights to be able to name them all. Beauty without crowds, glorious views of the Mediterranean, captivating historical and cultural sites, and friendly, laid-back locals all make this route a pleasant way to spend a hiking holiday.

Adventure Travel Fun – Hiking in Switzerland

One agent from every retail office across Canada recently accompanied Trek Holidays’ President Allan Ronneseth on the Explore Worldwide trip “Hiking in the Bernese Oberland”. It turned out to be a great trip with a brilliant mix of activities for all fitness levels, beautiful scenery, good shopping and plenty of optional excursions and time to relax.

We joined the group in the quaint village of Kandersteg. Nestled below the lower peaks of the Bernese Oberland, this is pretty much a one-street-town lined with chalets, hotels and restaurants and little traffic. We used Kandersteg as a base to hike to Oeschinensee, a pretty alpine lake at an altitude of 1580 metres, about a 500 metres climb from the village. This was a warm up day to give us a taste of what the degree of hiking was.

As it turned out no one had any real issues with this and some of us decided to extend the hike with a circuit on top of the cliffs overlooking the lake, while some relaxed in the sun enjoying a well-deserved beer. Day three of the trip saw us hike from Kandersteg to Kiental, another quaint village (as a matter of fact all villages in the Bernese Oberland seem to be extremely quaint!) in the next valley. The hike took us through forests and alpine meadows which, in summer, are covered in carpets of flowers. Towards mid-afternoon we topped out on a ridge separating the Kandersteg and Kiental valleys and enjoyed some wonderful vistas. We followed a trail down to the cable car station and descended about 1000 metres into Kiental. Cable cars, funicular railways and rack-and-pinion railways abound in the area, allowing you to hike at altitude and enjoy some real mountain scenery without putting too much effort in. At the same time, if you do not want to take the trains or cable cars, you can follow one of the many hiking trails up the mountain and make your day as strenuous as you want.

We stayed in Kiental for one night at a local hotel, quite typical for the type of hotels Explore uses in Switzerland. Some rooms had private facilities, while others shared, but always the rooms and bathroom were clean and comfortable and the service very friendly.

Our tour leader knew the area well and in the next days amended the itinerary such that we saw the best of the area. The first major change saw us take trains and a cable car from Kiental to First, a station at 2168 metres above sea level. The views into the valley as one ascends are fantastic, but on this day clouds obscured them on the last portion of the ride. The weather did not stop us from hiking to a mountain hut at the top of Faulhorn, another 500 metres higher. Enveloped in fog and with temperatures near zero, we enjoyed the warm surroundings and hot food here.

The afternoon was optional and some of us hiked down in to the valley to shop, while some of us continued their hike along the mountain range that separates the Grindelwald and Brienz Valleys. In good weather the views over the lakes around Interlaken would have been stunning, but even in the fog the atmosphere was exhilarating, with rocky outcrops and steep drops looming in the ever changing clouds.

Another day we took a rack-and-pinion railway to the ridge above Lauterbrunnen and hiked the beautiful high route to Muerren. Hiking on the west side of the valley we enjoyed spectacular views of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, some of the highest mountains in central-Switzerland. Our picnic lunch, which Explore provided and like on other days had a great variety and amount of food, was had on a spur opposite these beautiful peaks and overlooking the deep valley below.

One optional excursion no one should miss is the train ride to Jungfraujoch, at 3573 metres Europe’s highest station. Perched on the snowy ridge between Monch and Jungfrau, the station offers spectacular views all the way into France and Germany to the north and over the Aletsch glacier stretching away to the south. One can partake in some winter activities that makes any self-respecting Canadian giggle, but one good walk would take you onto the glacier or a nearby viewpoint.

Some of us couldn’t get enough of hiking and decided to throw in one last great hike, along the foot of the famous Eiger North Face. Considered unclimbable for many years, Eiger and its adjoining peaks loom high above you and this hike really lets you appreciate the sheer scale of these mountains.

The Bernese Oberland truly is an area with lots to do and see for people of all physical abilities. Take the Hiking the Bernese Oberland trip if you want a mix of scheduled and optional hikes, or Explore’s Alpine Trails if you want to visit this and other great alpine regions (like Mont Blanc and Matterhorn) on a strenuous trek.