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!

The Carian Trail Guidebook, published in 2014 when the 850-km-long trail was opened, divides the first section in 8 days. The initial days of hiking the Bozburun Peninsula exhausted us. It was a baptism of fire. Not having gotten in shape beforehand was part of the problem. The super rocky trails another and so our feet were in agony. Hiking in February, with short days (7.45am – 6pm), didn’t help either.

What to do?

We felt rushed and unhappy until we did the obvious: letting go of that book schedule and setting our own pace. This being early February, water sources abound, which probably makes it easier to find a place to pitch our tent near a water source than during summer time.

In the end we took 10 days to hike the about 150 kilometers.

You can see that the southern section of the Bozburun Peninsula is white – that’s the tough, super rocky part. The northern section has more forest with trails that are kinder to your feet (although rocks are never entirely absent).

Hiking the Bozburun Peninsula

Here’s what we liked a lot:

  • The wild, rugged mountains with stunning views of the surrounding bays and sea.
  • A lot of ruins worth a visit on, or nearby, the trail.
  • Regularly coming across a village (particularly nice in a time of year with lots of rain showers).
  • The quiet and peacefulness of the region – hiking in low season is a big pre in that respect.

This is what we didn’t like:

  • We knew that February would have rain showers, but not that many. We were stuck in Marmaris for 3 days even before we could start hiking because of storms (read here and here). Our night in Loryma will be memorable for a devastating storm, and one afternoon we hiked in three hours of rain.
  • As said, our feet suffered a lot on the rocky trails and open terrains. Of course it did get better as we walked more and our feet hardened. It’s particularly the southern section of the peninsula that is so rocky; the northern side has softer underfoot in pine forests. For that reason, the Bozburun Peninsula may not be the best section to start the Carian Trail thru-hike. Maybe it’s better to get in shape first on a ‘kinder’ section. (update: the Mugla Environs is by far the easiest section but the least interesting).

Here are impressions of our 10 days of hiking on the Bozburun Peninsula. (If you just want the practical information, scroll down to the bottom of this page).

01 Içmeler – Wild Camp Across the Amos Ruins

10,3 kms

The trail is well marked; the red-white painted stripes are everywhere. That makes hiking easier than when having to take out the GPS all the time.

We see the result of the storms that ravaged the region everywhere. Trees and branches have fallen across the trail, requiring us to climb over them or scramble underneath them. Parts of the trail are flooded. To keep dry feet we step on stones.

Flowering almond tree

02 Amos – Bayir

15,1 kms

The world is mostly silent. Sometimes we hear the soft twittering of birds, at other times the distant chugging of a motorboat.

Otherwise it’s just the two of us, the sound of the ticking of our trekking poles on the rocks and stones. Or it’s the one in front calling ‘On On’ on the sight of a marker, telling the other we’re still on the trail.

More on a beautiful encounter in Bayir in this post.

03 Bayir – Taslica

18 kms

This shouldn’t be called hiking. “Goating’ or something like that is a better word. The last part of the trail is painful beyond imagination. After a couple of days of hiking, a pebbled path will feel like velvet to our feet, I swear.

To get to that point our feet are trained on what can not even be called a rock-strewn path. It’s a surface completely filled with jagged stones, rocks that mostly lie in such a way that its sharpest side sticks upward. It’s a painful world of white rocks, kilometer after kilometer, uphill, downhill and everything in between, hour after hour. Every step jabs at our soles, toes, heels, ankles, or all of it together.

Turkish breakfast.

04 Taslica – Wild Camp Near the Ancient Fountain

17,9 kms

Hell starts some 2 or 2,5 kms before the ancient fountain. This is no longer a trail. This is a massive hostile field full of rocks and stones and thorny bushes and practically no trail to be discerned.

Today, hiking the Bozburun Peninsula is tough and no fun. We take an hour to cover a kilometer or so. Of course I fall, exhausted, in a thorny bush. Tears of frustration. Why walk here? Waymarkers have faded or disappeared, which is no wonder – those who’ve been here once don’t return!

05 Ancient Fountain – Loryma

9,7 kms

Tick, tick, our poles go, hitting rocks, and getting stuck between the shrub and stones but they prevent us from falling a million times. We have a view of the sea and then what looks like a tower but which is a remnant of a windmill. We are at Karamaka.

The deserted ruined village sits on a prominent position looking across to the Greek Island of Symi. The tiny seaport at Tola lies below with ancient ruins scattered over the hillside and seashore. In an Ottoman census of the late 1800s, the village had a population of 179 residing in 38 houses, in other reports there was also a boys and girls school. The populace was a Symian colony from the neighboring island that supposedly left during the mubadele population exchange, circa 1923, after the war of Independence between Turkey and Greece. (From: Carian Trail Guidebook)

The ruins of the old windmill of Karamaka.

At the bay of Loryma a shepherd pointed out a shelter where we could spend the night, safe from the heavy storm ravaging the peninsula that night.

06 Loryma – Taslica

14 kms

We leave the coast and head inland and have lots of climbing to do through thorny scrub, following a rocky path that winds and zigzags uphill. Apart from waymarkers we find the trail by sticking to the brownish line that meanders through a landscape that otherwise is green and white/grey. Slowly but steadily we make our way up through the once more dramatic and rough landscape that we’ve already come to know so well.

My mind, soul, heart – whatever – has lost is restlessness it had until this morning. I’m at ease at where I am. We have decided to let go of any schedules given in the guidebook. Our pace is too slow, the days too short to hike 20 kilometers and still have time to enjoy our surroundings, take times for breaks and photos, and to not frantically search for unmarked sections of the trail.

I am happy again, being where I am.

Hiking the Boburun Peninsula

07 Taslica – Bozburun

14 kms

We follow the road, along orchards with almond trees full in bloom and busy with bees. The fields below them are covered with yellow and white flowers. It feels as if spring has truly begun. Not just nature is busy but also the number of people working today give a feeling of renewed (spring) energy.

The first restaurants are being cleaned, roofs repaired (damaged or flown off in the recent storms), and lots of men working on boat construction. Clearly Bozburun town is a developing area with money flowing in. Nice houses, freshly painted, lots of small businesses as grocery stores and mini hardware stores, and more boat-building yards. It’s a pleasure to see all these hives of activity.

Boat building in Bozburun

08 Bozburun – Bayir (via Selimiye)

23 kms

From the top of the hill we meander down once more, leaving the wild vegetation and walking into farmlands. We love it here. Farmhouses, orchards full of blooming trees, almonds and maybe fruit trees – I don’t know.

Barking dogs, making lots of noise but never aggressive, hands up from farmers, people working on their houses and in the fields. A feeling of spring in the air, people preparing for summer tourist season along the shore.

Let’s have a coffee in Selimiye!

09 Bayir – Wild Camp Near Turgut

15 kms

We climb back into the forest, uphill to visit the ruins of Hydas, a Hellenistic site. So many of these sites situated on the top of mountains and hills! Totally understandable, of course, but work for us modern people to see them.

All the more rewarding are the views of the surrounding areas including the bays of Turgut and the next village of Orhaniye. We leave our backpacks at the foot of the top section and fly uphill with no weight on our backs. We come across the ruins of a cistern, castle walls, and a Byzantine church.

Skinny dipping in the cold river.

10 Wild Camp Near Turgut – Hisarönü

17 kms

We meander up the trail at an easy pace. The sore feet are gone, our bodies feel strong and we’re enjoying our walk. This is what we like to do!

The road continues on a dirt road, slowly but steadily up. We stop to admire a turtle on our path and listen to the tweeting of birds. Every once in a while a lizard scurries through the low bushes. Boars have rooted up the earth on the trail.

One last ruin of an old temple, one last lunch in this splendid landscape. We have survived our baptism of fire. It’s time for a short rest – enforced because the forecast predicts several days of rain. It’ll give us plenty of time to plan the next section, the Ceramic Gulf from Akyaka to Bodrum.

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 the Carian TrailGuidebook by Yurus Özdemir, Altay Özcan and Dean Livesley. Find it here.
  • We are hiking without laptops. The pictures are snapshots I take on my iPhone and new on this hike is a foldable keyboard. After a day of diary typing, I can say I’m very happy with this purchase.
  • Here’s the hiking gear list with what we’re carrying on our backs for the next two months.

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