The Lost City in Saklikent National Park, Antalya, Turkey

The Saklikent Gorge, the “Hidden Valley” or The Lost City is an amazing place to visit when traveling in Antalya, Turkey. Especially during the summer when the temperature in the shade can be in the upper thirties, it’s a great place to visit for refreshing and amazing views.

thecliffs
The view to the cliffs forming The Saklikent Canyon

The water is coming up from underground to form a “boiling” cauldron is decidedly cold. If anyone ever told you that something you want will not happen until the hell freezes over, it’s your lucky day, the evidence is undeniable. There is a running challenge, anybody who manages to stay in that water for at least five minutes will get a free beer. After touching the water I’m not wondering that people are not queuing to take up that offer.

Saklikent National Park is located in Fethiye – Mugla. It’s north of Kas and about 30 km inland from famous Patara beach. The Saklikent Canyon is 18 km long, 300 meters deep and is steep and narrow.  It’s considered the third longest canyon in Europe after Verdon in France and Vikos in Greece.

A part of the canyon is open for a visitors to walk in and enjoy since April after the snow in the mountains have melted. Wear only shoes and clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and leave your non-waterproof electronics behind. Despite the low-water level during our visit, I didn’t have a dry spot on me by the time we reached the final lagoon.

You can rent water shoes (for about 0.5€ with 2018 rates) from the park entrance. I used my sandals and many people were simply wearing flip-flops. Thought with the later I saw more than one occasion person rushing after their footwear when it was jollily hopping down the stream.

the line
Good things come to those who wait. The ticket line is long today but there is a fountain to cool yourself, people to watch and even an occasional bit of shade.

After waiting a long line, crossing the bridge and another bridge we are in The Lost City where the freezing cold water is bubbling up from underground. Some of it is directed to form liquid floors and canals for the restaurant areas where people relax on the platforms piled high with mats, pillows, and hammocks.

Bridge to the canyon
A few bridges help you across the first part to the “Lost city”.

To reach the canyon entrance we cross a part of the river using ropes to help. The flow is rough but not life-threatening as water barely reaches to my hip. The temperature is quite a few degrees below comfortable, but the crossing is rapid and by the time I am across I feel properly refreshed.

Around the corner, we find the narrow path between the mountains. I think of the person who must have stumbled on this passage by accident over time, how amazed they must have felt. Apparently, the discovery is credited to a traveling goat herder.

The water inside the canyon is thankfully only a fraction of the stream we just crossed. The little over a one-kilometer walk inside the riverbed between the towering cliffs is a calm walk in a 10-20 cm of water. At least in the beginning. We are faced with muddy people. Apparently, it’s generally believed that with a water, cliffs and being abroad, the mud must be good for you. People merrily covering themselves with a dirt from the side of the path. Some of the white clay is used to write notes on the wall. What a lovely way to get the graffiti instinct out without actually damaging anything, the next high water will erase these scribbles after people had their fun.

The first part of the way is an easy stroll. Amazing white cliffs rise high leaving only a narrow crack high up. The sun does it’s best but it’s doesn’t have a fair fighting chance to reach us here. The second part becomes a bit more of a challenge. The amount of water that formed a shallow jolly stream in the wider part of the canyon is going through much narrower passes here. Going gets slower, darker and occasionally path is uphill and upstream.

Most steps are easy enough to climb and white stones have no algae so even my sandals get a decent grip. In more difficult spots there are assigned youngsters to give people a helping hand to push them up. There are tip boxes to say your thank you.

A lagoon in The Saklikent Canyon.jpg
There is a lagoon at the end of the trail with a nice massage waterfall.

The dense crowd at the beginning of the path has thinned out the going got harder. We reach the final pool of water, from here large cliffs make a road too difficult for a casual strolling. I give the vertical cliffs a longing look, with a bit of a climbing equipment one could still continue. As no such equipment is present we decide to have a dip in the lagoon instead. The waterfall from the cliffs is filling the pool and provides a nice massage, a lovely day for a water therapy.

On the way back the uphill, against the flow climbs become watersides. Relaxed and refreshed we reach out and have a siesta on a seated area above the water floors, enjoying some local olives, drinks and a beauty of the surroundings.

Saklikent_Canyon_Fethiye
The restaurant at the Saklıkent National Park is all about water and refreshment.

After a leisurely meal, we head down to Patara beach. A 14 km long, sandy strip of Mediterranean coast. We find a family fishing event taking place in front of us.  Men drag a net up and down along the coast with women lending a helping hand when needed. The kids and a lady who looks like a grandmother follow them along the beach, helping with the equipment and offering what probably is encouragements but might also be instructions.

Slowly sipping white wine in the shade we count the fish they pick out from the net (we see at least 2-3 larger ones from one drag). Sun is about to set and the wind’s caress is soft. Looking at the waves rolling in from the blue Mediterranean I have to admit, it’s a great day to be close to a water.

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