Hiking the Datça Peninsula 2 (Carian Trail, Turkey)

Hiking the Datça Peninsula; getting down the cliff using a rope.With only another 120 kilometers, the days suddenly pass very, very quickly. The western section of the Datça Peninsula is one of the remotest sections of the 850-kilometer-long Carian Trail. Few villages, mostly footpaths meandering through forests and traversing headlands that divide dozens of secluded bays. Continue reading

Hiking the Datça Peninsula 1 (Carian Trail, Turkey)

Never be so faithful to your plan that you are unwilling to consider the unexpected. Never be so faithful to your plan that you are unwilling to entertain the improbable opportunity that comes looking for you. -Elizabeth Warren

Thru-hiking and rolling up your sleeves to get your hands dirty in a greenhouse? How do those two activities match?

Notes on Slow Travel, the name of this website, speaks for itself and our way of slow travel has never been truer than on the Carian Trail. Having planned ample time for this 850-km-long hike through Southwestern Turkey, we always take up on invitations for tea or to stay at people’s homes.

This time, right after we start hiking the Datça Peninsula, we said ‘yes’ to volunteer in a greenhouse for three days.

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Hiking the Muğla Environs (Carian Trail, Turkey)

“Ruins are more beautiful than adorned castles, for ruins are the cathedrals of time.” ~Ben Caesar

When a trail exists of five sections, not all of them can finish at the top of your list. As such, the Muğla Environs Section won’t be our #1 of the Carian Trail. However, don’t scrap it from your list immediately; this trail did have some worthwhile surprises.
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Hiking the Carian Hinterland 2 (Carian Trail, Turkey)

“Dogs are not our whole life but they makes our lives whole.” ~Roger Caras

The Carian Hinterland is a 175-km-long hiking trail in Southwestern Turkey and part of the 850-km-long Carian Trail.

In the previous blog post, Carian Hinterland part 1, I described sections of the first half of that trail. Here is part 2, day 6-11. (If you just want the practical information, scroll down to the bottom of this page). Continue reading

Hiking the Carian Hinterland 1 (Carian Trail, Turkey)

Hiking the Carian Hinterland, Turkey

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Carian Hinterland is one of the five sections of the 800-km-long Carian Trail that runs through Southwestern Turkey.

If you like the idea of combining hiking and Turkey and you have some two weeks of time, this is our tip: hike the Carian Hinterland. Depending on your level of fitness and speed it may take 8-13 days (we took 11). Simply fly to Bodrum, take a bus to Bozalan and hit the trail. Continue reading

Hiking the Ceramic Gulf (Carian Trail, Turkey)

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” ~John Muir

After our 10-day hike on the Bozburun Peninsula – our introductory section of the 800-kilometer-long Carian Trail – we returned to Marmaris. We were ready for a day of rest, which prolonged into a three-day stay because of heavy rainstorms.

This gave us plenty of time to sleep, eat proper food, and drink good coffee. We were more than ready for the next stage and swapped our planned Carian Hinterland section for the Bodrum Peninsula (Ceramic Gulf) after we learned that the interior was going to be plagued by an unusual attack of cold weather with freezing temps. Continue reading

Hiking the Bozburun Peninsula (Carian Trail, Turkey)

For the walker the remoteness is ripe for exploration and with a lack of roads the old trails and paths have been cleaned to access every viewpoint across the sea to the Greek islands of Symi and Rhodes. The Trail routes through a diversity of terrain with many changes of scenery and magical views round every corner. There are many traditional villages eking a living from the rugged landscape along with coastal villages catering for the demands of tourism. (From: Carian Trail Guidebook)

What’s there NOT to like about this? So, let’s go!

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Our Hiking Gear List for the 850-km Carian Trail (Turkey)

Hiking Gear List for the Carian Trail laid out on a bedIt’s Day 3 of waiting out the storm, which hopefully will be our last before we can finally start our 850-km-long hike along the beautiful coast of Southwestern Turkey, called the Carian Trail.

(Here is how we spent day 1 and day 2 in Marmaris).

And so, with not much else to do, I figured it would be a good moment to make a hiking gear list of what we will be carrying on the trail.

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Taking a Kitesurfing Course in Brazil, at Tatajuba Beach

From our apartment I looked out over the beach, the mouth of the lagoon and the ocean. During the morning hours it was quiet. A fisherman might be returning with his catch or somebody was going for a stroll along the shore. Somewhere after 11 am tranquility transformed into hustle and bustle, as if a silent alarm had gone off. Continue reading

Bamboo Rafting in India (the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary)

Tiger footprints. We stop in our tracks. Excitement rises. Our guide kneels and studies them, and concludes they are old ones. Disillusion comes with a hidden sense of relief. There is a gun-carrying guard with us, but still.

We set off once more along trails through a forest so hot and dry that the dehydrated leaves barely hang on to the trees. The sound of walking through the fallen leaves reminds me of Europe’s autumns, which is entirely at odds with the scorching temperatures. Continue reading

Ziplining in Peru near Machu Picchu

I have a choice, I realized as I was swinging in midair. Either I freak out or let go and enjoy. While fear is an emotion, often used as an excuse – I can’t help it, I’m just too afraid to do it – I took a rational decision not to be afraid and relax. That in itself was an awkward if not an intriguing experience. Furthermore, it worked. I felt my muscles ease up and I took notice of the world around me. Seconds earlier I had only been staring in some sort of void without really seeing where I was. Continue reading

Snorkeling with Sharks in the Galápagos Islands

“Shark!”

I was facedown in the water, mesmerized by schools of surgeonfish weaving their way among the rocks, yet the word registered loud and clear. I looked up and saw Coen waving frantically, pointing to something underneath his body. I swam towards him, careful not to make any sudden movements that might scare the fish away. Continue reading

A Boat Trip through Suriname’s History with Author Cynthia McLeod

A teenager holds a baby caiman in her hands, a young boy feels its rough skin. There is nothing to fear as the reptile’s jaws have been tied for the occasion. We admire sweet water turtles, decipher dilapidated gravestones and buy dried shrimp.

This eclectic combination of attractions is to be found at Rust and Werk, one of Suriname’s plantations near the capital of Paramaribo, during a daylong boat trip on the Sweet Merodia.

Suriname’s Plantation History

Suriname shares the ambiance and cultural diversity that characterizes the Caribbean but, in fact, is a nation on the north coast of South America. Like in many Caribbean islands, its jungles were transformed into plantations from the 17th to the 20th century.

In Suriname each narrow, elongated plantation bordered a waterway since roads in the countryside didn’t exist, and today this still typifies some of the former plantation regions. Under the Dutch, more than 700 plantations flourished (mostly sugarcane and a bit of coffee) thanks to slaves and, after the abolition, contract laborers from Java and India.

A Boat Trip with Cynthia McLeod

The Sweet Merodia belongs to Cynthia McLeod, a Surinamese author known for her historical novels on Suriname’s plantation history (e.g. The Cost of Sugar and The Free Negress Elisabeth). The boat measures 82 by 18 feet, slightly larger than was the size of slave ships.

Cynthia McLeod

Today there are about 40 visitors on the Sweet Merodia whereas the similar-sized slave ships carried 300-400 slaves, who were literally stacked in the holds of the ships, Cynthia points out. This is one of the typical details in her stories that help me visualize the reality of those days.

Not surprisingly, she has many of those details to share. To write her historical novels she researched the maritime archives in the Netherlands (town of Middelburg), where everything with regard to Suriname’s colonial history is kept.

The Plantations of Rust en Werk, and Frederiksdorp

As we sail up the Commewijne River Cynthia narrates her stories about the distinct differences between slavery in Suriname and other countries (among which the US), the good and the bad things done by Dutch governors, captivating stories about love, hatred and conspiracies among salt-water slaves (as newly arrived slaves were called), maroons (runaway slaves), plantation families and foreign powers.

Plantation Rust en Werk (Rest and Work) is one of Suriname’s handful of plantations still productive in the 21st century. It consists of a ranch with 7,000 cows and a shrimp farm. As we walk the grounds to take a look at the crumbled graves of the plantation founders, the Crommelin family, we pass noni bushes. The whose light green, bulgy fruits are popular their medicinal and nutritious values, and a growth market for Rust en Werk.

Plantation Frederiksdorp

The Plantation of Frederiksdorp (1760) was known for its coffee and cacao production. The drying floor is still intact. After the abolition of slavery, the plantation was left to go to ruin until Ton and Marianne Hagemeijer bought it in the 1980s. They restored part of the buildings to their former glory, among which the police post, prison cells, the family doctor’s residence and the director’s home.

The red-roofed, white clapboard buildings with contrasting dark-green windowsills surrounded by tropical gardens now house a small, upscale guesthouse.

Crommelin Grave

The Children’s Home of Sukh Dhaam

As the Sweet Merodia cleaves the chocolate brown river lined by a green wall of overgrown plantations reclaimed by nature, we enjoy a coffee and tea with cake, stroop (Surinamese lemonade), and a typical local lunch consisting of rice, kouseband (a type of vegetable) and chicken.

In 1918-1919, the Spanish Flue hit Suriname, killing thousands. The Community of Moravian Brethren founded an orphanage for Hindustani children: Sukh Dhaam (‘House of Happiness’) We stop to chat with the children, no longer limited to Hindustanis, who love to show visitors around. The boys’ quarters have recently been renovated, of which they are incredibly proud.

Orphanages no longer exist in Suriname, but there is still a need for children’s homes like Sukh Dhaam, which offers a home to children from socially deprived families.

The children’s home is “on” Alkmaar. In Suriname you don’t live in a village but “on” a village, which I find one of those fascinating reminders of Suriname’s history. In the early days, people lived “on the Alkmaar Plantation”. The word “plantation” is gone, but “on” Alkmaar – or any other village that replaced a plantation – has remained.

Practical information

  • Tours are in Dutch but on request Cynthia McLeod organizes tours in English for groups. Another option is to make friends with a Dutchman or Surinamese who’ll translate for you along the way).
  • Departure is from the dock at Anton Dragtenweg 8 (across from the Residence Inn), north of Paramaribo. It can be reached by taxi.
  • Tip: wear comfortable shoes to walk the plantations and bring sun lotion, a hat and, of course, your camera.

Additional Reading

All photos by Coen Wubbels. Follow him on Instagram here & here.