Published: August 22nd 2010August 21st 2010
Being Kiwis living in London for the past four and a half years has meant that we've always been on the hunt to find the secluded and natural beaches that we can remember as kids. In the UK and in other parts of Europe we stumbled across some great places so we decided to continue our hunt for that secluded paradise here in Turkey.
Of course during this insanely hot summer, we knew we weren't going to be the only ones on that mission. So to escape the crowds we traveled nearly 12 hours by bus, van and finally 4WD to a little place called Kabak.
Kabak is a place that we had read about in a few different sources. Lonely Planet raved about it and touted it as the last underdeveloped stretch of the Turkish Mediterranean and one of the top five beaches in Turkey.
Wow! With those sorts of credentials, we had pretty high expectations. We had heard that the famous Butterfly Valley close by had been well and truly discovered and the websites of the camps in the Kabak valley promised a heavenly vision of paradise. The whole eco-friendly aspect appealed to us. Wicked, we
thought, here's our chance to go feral and see a bit of self sufficiency in action!
Unfortunately, we should know by now not to let expectations get too big when traveling! Let's just say Kabak didn't quite live up to it's promised vision of paradise for us.
There is no denying that the setting was spectacular. Set between two ridiculously big mountains, Kabak is a deep valley that runs down to a beach. Accommodation is provided in a camp ground or a series of 'camps' that have huts, decks, 'chill zones', eating areas, vegetable gardens and even small pools. It really is an amazing setting. The views from our little balcony was fantastic - if only the hut wasn't insulated by polystyrene and have the sturdiness of a cardboard box.
So what didn't we like about Kabak? I guess the number of cigarette butts on the beach was a bit of a surprise. We weren't too keen on the little piles of rubbish that are just starting to appear behind the beach either. Chickens scratching around in the wet ground is great, but much nicer if the water isn't coming from black pipes that smell suspiciously like
Our camp was 'just' managing to cling onto its loveliness. There didn't seem to be much work going on to maintain it. The hut hadn't been cleaned since the last guests (emptying out the toilet paper bin would have been nice) the weeds were starting to take over a bit in the gardens. The staff were completely indifferent towards us. I guess it could of been a big case of tourist fatigue on their behalf or perhaps,us not having bits of coloured wool in our dreadlocks, hippy clothes or tattoos of spiders/ gnomes/ scorpions meant that we simply weren't cool or alternative enough to be there!
Of course waste management is pretty difficult in a place like this and I shouldn't really complain since we swam in the (very cloudy)pool and used the toilet in our hut. At the end of the day I wonder, is there such a thing as eco-friendly tourism? Sadly, probably not.
The owners of the camp must be laughing all the way to the bank though. At 120 euros per night, (including lunch and dinner but NOT water which only available at a price 300% more expensive than anywhere else) they
Time for a swim
are probably feeling a lot more 'peace and love' from the Kabak experience than we did!
After making our way out of the Kabak valley (with a horrific case of 'Turkey tummy' - cursed!) we stayed the night in Fethiye (nice locals!) before starting a four day coastal trip on a gulet boat.
Within minutes of meeting our crew and looking around the boat, we realised that we were going to enjoy our trip. Funnily enough most of the group had the same worry we all thought that we were going to be the oldest travelers stuck aboard a floating night club with a bunch of boozed 18 year olds!
As it turned out, I was probably the youngest on the boat with the oldest being some fantastically funny Italians in their fifties. Quite a few of us were in our late twenties and early thirties. The group consisted of Australians, Americans, French, Canadians, Spanish and us Kiwis. Despite any language difficulties and age differences, everyone got on really well.
Our gulet was a Turkish - Australian owned venture that meant that a few kolas and kangaroos were in abundance but our cabin had a New
Zealand flag on the wall! The boat was staffed by some really hard-working Turkish guys and a great Turkish Captain called Ahmed. He ran a very professional ship and always made sure our boat was moored in pretty spots away from others at night.
The days on board the boat were bliss. Eating good food, swimming in crystal clear water, snorkeling, sunning, napping, reading, talking and drinking some surprisingly good wine was basically the extent of our four days. Believe it or not, after a few drinks in the evenings and some hilarious conversations we were all exhausted and turning in for bed by about ten thirty!
Bed was a highlight! In this weather, the cabins are simply too hot to sleep in so most people slept outside on the deck. We star gazed for awhile before drifting into one of the best sleeps I have had in years. The only sound was the lapping of the waves against the ship and in the morning we were woken up with the sunrise. Argh, Ahmed - take us back! We can cook, clean, steer the boat, catch the fish...
Well that's pretty much our life for the last
ten or so days. I am actually writing this from a hotel in Oludeniz which is without doubt the tackiest holiday destination I have ever seen. No, we did not come for the foam parties, 'full-English breakfasts - Tesco sausages here!' karaoke bars, 'eat as much as you like - no limit' Chinese restaurants, English pubs, English fish & chip shops and Elvis impersonators. It is simply because we had to stay somewhere before catching the overnight bus tomorrow towards Cappadocia.
There are more photos below