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.

Hiking along the eastern side of the Datça Peninsula, we reminisced about our beautiful hike from Akyaka to Bodrum, which runs parallel along the other side of the Ceramic Gulf. Now leaving the town of Datça, westbound along the southern shore, we have views of the Bozburun Peninsula that reminds us of our sore feet during the start of our 850-km-long hike.

We have come such a long way!

Hiking the Western Side of the Datça Peninsula

No matter how beautiful the hike, a feeling of saturation has set in. We feel we have fully absorbed this part of Turkey – it’s mindblowing landscapes, the good food, and the kindness of the people living here – and that’s a good feeling to finish a hike with.

Here are impressions of day 7-12 on the Datça Peninsula. Distances are approximates given by our GPX trail.

Restaurants in Datça are a great place to eat an abundance of vegetables again.

Day 12 Datça – Hayitbükü

24 kms

Narrow footpaths with big stones, rocks, loose gravel zigzag up through shadeless, thorny scrub. Our trekking poles work hard to get us up the mountain. We are walking during the hottest hours of the afternoon and the sun is burning into our heads. After a short feeling of gratification to have reached the top we face the descent, which is just steep and taxing.

Finally – ah, at last! – we cross a watercourse WITH water (no lack of dried-up watercourses on this section). I cool my head and neck by splashing water on them with my hands – the water isn’t deep enough to submerge my entire head. Heaven!

Dag 13 Hayitbükü – Palamutbükü

Yesterday we already walked a part of today’s section and so we have an easy, short day ahead of us. Even more so with the first kilometers being asphalt.

Leaving that asphalt, however, is not a matter of course.

No matter with what dedication the Carian-Trail team works on keeping the trail well marked, some of the red-white painted stripes are bound to disappear. Like here, because the trail has been bulldozed for a new house. We are standing next to a fountain, where we have to turn right. But where exactly?

A fence blocks the entrance and nobody is home. We go around the neighbor’s farm, feel bad about crossing his cultivated field, scramble up rocks and are hit by a natural fence of thick and high vegetation. Coen tries another path. “On, on,” I hear him cry, meaning he has found a way marker.

We’re off into the hills through fields bursting with color. What a joy to be here in spring.

Day 14 Palamutbükü – Knidos

18 kms

We stumble upon a sofa that’s purposely put along the side of the dirt road for locals to take a rest and enjoy the view of the sea. We follow their example and snack on halva (‘helva’ in Turkish). From here footpaths meander among thorny plants – we’ve hiked the entire trail in long pants and with the type of vegetation that’s been a good idea.

Along the coast, in the middle of nowhere, is a solitary home. The owner earns a bit of money by having people camp in his garden. Today there are three Carian Trail hikers from Ukraine. They are hiking the other way and we swap notes.

Day 15 Knidos – Mercincik

18 kms

From the widespread ruins of the ancient town of Knidos, we climb up a mountain. The sun is rising, coloring the white lighthouse on the peninsula in soft orange tinges as we reach the top. It’s early morning but temperatures are rising quickly. There is no wind whatsoever.

Knidos Bay with a good restaurant.

The day gets hotter and hotter, but the views of the Ceramic Gulf and secluded coves make up for the hard work we have to put in today. No people, no villages. It’s a wild section of the Carian Trail worth hiking. But, there is no water either and we hope there will be a water source at the end of today’s section.

As we loop a massive olive grove with 10,000 olive trees, we come across three men working in the field. We ask for a water source. One of them speaks German. “No water here, but go to the farmhouse to get it and you can spend the night there too,” he says.

What an offer and we’re grateful. And it’s more than that. We can sleep in an empty room used for summer workers and take a hot shower. Hiking luxuries are simple and deeply appreciated.

Day 16 Mercincik – Karaköy 

16 kms

It’s a day of cutting through headlands, descending to sheltered bays with stunning, translucent and blue waters imaginable. From higher sections we enjoy spectacular views but once down, there is no escape of seeing how these pebble beaches are covered with rubbish washed ashore.

Yesterday we needed to get down a vertical section using a rope. Today we go up a vertical wall using a rickety ladder made of tree branches followed by a stone tone cut staircase through a cleft in a cliff.

This much trash on the beach is rather the norm than the exception.

Day 17 Karaköy – Datça

15 kms

It’s hard to believe the hike is almost over. Last sunrise, last time of taking the tent down, last packing of the backpacks, last pebble beach, last (long) climb and descent, one last look back over the Ceramic Gulf.

In Kzilas, our last Turkish tea in a traditional teahouse next to the mosque ((oh, we’ll miss this!). One last toasted sandwich for Coen and chocolate bars for me. The last kilometers of dirt road, crossing an asphalt road, passing an olive grove and arriving at the beach south of Datça where we were about a week ago too.

We’ll miss Turkish coffee too.

The circle has been completed.

850 kilometers, 46 days of walking. What a trail it has been.

Thank you Carian-Trail team! We are immensely grateful for all the work you put into building this trail and maintaining it today. Keep up the good work!

Practical Information on Hiking the Datça Peninsula (western section)

  • Cooking/gas canisters: On the trail is enough wood to cook on a wood fire. Note: in Datça they don’t have threaded gas canisters but do sell the local camping gas (perforation system? – no idea how to call this) as well as the tall, thin, stove-top gas canisters.
  • Water: we hiked late March/early April. Water is trickier here than anywhere else on the Carian Trail. About 3 kilometers north of Knidos is a water cistern and next only in the upcoming holiday settlement of Murdala Bay. Mercincik has one farmhouse, where we got water, but there is no water source on the beach itself. After that, water is no problem. We add purification tablets when necessary.
  • Food: Knidos has no shop, but does have a restaurant with good fish dishes. So make sure to stock up before that, in Palamutbükü because the next shop is only in Karakoy.
  • Camping: Wild camp options everywhere.

Practical Information on the Carian Trail

  • The Carian Trail is an 850-km-long hike in Southwestern Turkey, and Turkey’s Longest Coastal Hiking Trail. Find all info here.
  • We use the Carian Trail Guidebook, by Yurus Özdemir, Altay Özcan and Dean Livesley. Find it here.
  • We are hiking without laptops. The pictures are snapshots I took on my iPhone and new on this hike is a foldable keyboard. I’m super happy with it despite it adding to the weight I carry.
  • This is our gear list with what we’ve packed for the Carian Trail.

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