Tread the Ancient Roads of the Carian Trail
Between mountain villages and the sea
Begin at the beginning. We start from the northernmost trailhead of the Carian Trail in the small village of Karpuzlu with the commanding agora of ancient Alinda on the hilltop above. The week is spent exploring different highland villages in a region that has for thousands of years remained an important producer of olive oil, dried figs, honey, and marble. Hike landscapes that have seen human settlement for over ten millennia, explore the giant boulders strewn across the hillsides of the Latmos Mountain range, and walk the stone cobbled tracks dating back to before Alexander the Great. After a week strolling in an almost biblical setting under umbrella pines and through olive groves, it will come as no surprise that this region has since antiquity continuously been a centre of worship by cults, religions and faiths of all kinds. No holiday to Turkey would be complete without a visit to the ocean, and this tour is no exception. We end at the sea, in beautiful Bodrum.
Ancient Caria was a region of western Anatolia and modern southwestern Turkey extending along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts and their hinterland. When the Ionian and Dorian Greeks colonized the west, there was intermingling with the Carian population, an originally seafaring peoples, to form states with Hellenic influence. The Carians are also named by several sources to have been known as mercenaries as far away as Egypt. Today, the ancient region encompasses the Turkish provinces of Muğla, Aydın and Denizli. Caria is scattered with remains of cities large and small, sacred shrines and places of worship, even an extensive ceremonial gathering place at Labranda. Some ruins are amazingly well-preserved and often found in dramatic, mythical settings. The icon worshiped here was Zeus Labrandeus, an upright Zeus with a double-edged, golden axe over his right shoulder. The icon can be seen reflected in the logo of the Carian Trail.
Look forward to
The predictably good weather continues to be one of the main draws of this area in Turkey for most visitors. The Carian Trail is best hiked in the spring and autumn months. As early as March the hillsides are bathed in wild flowers, and day temperatures are already in their teens, with warmth growing steadily until it reaches a peak in the summer, cooling off again in September to welcome hikers back after the hot summer.
- Hike in the footsteps of the ancient Carians
- Explore remote mountain villages and meet friendly villagers
- Swim the beautiful bay of a picturesque fishing village
- Walk through century-old, mystical olive groves
- Savour the tastes of Turkish cuisine
Welcome to Turkey! Arrival in Izmir or Bodrum, airport pick-up and transfer to your guesthouse in Çine. Welcome dinner and orientation session with your guide.
We get an early start and transfer to the ancient Carian settlement of Alinda. We will explore the city walls, fortification towers, the agora and the ruins of the aquaducts and theatre before properly beginning our hike on the Carian Trail. We will visit Yahşiler and Tekeler villages today in inland Caria. Most of the day we will walk through century-old olive groves. The villages are simple mountain settlements based largely on agriculture – olives, pine nuts, figs, animal husbandry. We’ll pick one of the nice vistas to have our picnic lunch en route. At the end of our walk we will transfer to the village of Bağarcık where we are welcomed by the mayor and his wife into their family home for a traditional Turkish meal and to stay the night.
UP 798m DOWN 228m 8.8 km
The village of Bağarcık is located on the northern flank of the Latmos mountains. The morning’s route takes us up to a mountain pass that has been used centuries. Pine nut trees alternate with large, scattered boulders in this satisfyingly bizarre rockscape. We enjoy an amazing view of Bafa Lake from the top of the range. From this point on the trail follows an ancient road that was built by one of the commanders of Alexander the Great. We descend on the southern side of the Latmos range, amidst the ruins of ancient Latmos and Heraclea, following these all the way to the lakeside village of Kapıkırı on Bafa Lake, where we sleep in a family-run guesthouse.
UP 400 m DOWN 965 m 17.4 km
After an amazing home-cooked breakfast spread with local and organic products, we have a one-hour transfer to the antique city of Labranda, an ancient place of worship dating back to 600 BC. The site was built on artificial terraces to accommodate large ceremonial gatherings. After the visit we walk down to Kargıcak village in the hills with its interesting old stone houses and friendly villagers. The teahouse keeper will surely regale us with his stories as in times past. From here we transfer to to the picturesque fishing village of Çökertme, located on a beautiful, small bay. Free time until dinner to enjoy these pristine swimming waters or go for a stroll along the beach. Overnight in local guesthouse.
START AT 720 m DOWN 515 m 8 km
After breakfast in Çökertme we transfer to nearby Bozalan village, the starting point for our hike today. We will walk through the village and admire the village houses and age-old agricultural terraces, then heading into the pine forest. The old caravan trail takes us to Gökbel village, which is famous for its carpets (kilim). Depending on the interest of the group, we may be able to observe women weaving. We will stop in Gökbel for tea and refreshments in the village centre and continue our hike with an ocean view today. Our hike ends upon arrival in the seaside village of Çakıllıyalı, where we spend the night.
UP 472m DOWN 702m 15 Km
After another copious Turkish breakfast we head off strengthened directly from the guesthouse. The old trail we walk today had fallen into disrepair until recently. Now after the opening of the Carian Trail it is now being used again, though by hiking and walking enthusiasts. The hilly route passes through many untouched beaches and coves. The habitat is diverse: maquis, olive groves and strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo). Our route takes us through Kisebükü, an old Byzantine settlement, and over another village to our endpoint for the day, Çiftlik. Free time until dinner. Overnight in guesthouse in Çiftlik.
UP 610 m DOWN 540 m 20.9 Km
We begin our day again departing on foot directly from the guesthouse, passing through several remote mountain villages and hamlets with an old domed cistern to view and a visit to Çilek village (Strawberry village). Our trails are mainly forested or pass through olive groves, allowing us one last time to appreciate the very different life being led just half an hour’s drive outside the main tourist capital of Bodrum – where we will stay this evening. Our hike ends in Kızılağaç village with a short transfer to Bodrum. Free time until dinner. Time to relax and explore the markets, or visit the world-renowned Bodrum archeological museum.
Elevation change 790 m, 9.7 km
Return day and transfer to airport. Depending on your departure time a walk to to Pedasa, the capital of the mysterious Lelegians as recorded by Herodotus, located up in the hills above Bodrum, can be organized in the morning. If you would like to extend your stay, we are happy to make recommendations.
Included in the Price
- small groups with a maximum of 12 guests
- guaranteed departure with a minimum of 4 guests
- airport transfers on arrival and departure days
- 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch & dinner); water, coffee & tea included
- English-speaking, local guide
- 6 nights guesthouses based on double occupancy with your own facilities; 1 night village house
- Children 10 years and older are welcome, children 7-12 years old receive a 50% discount
Excluded: return flights to Dalaman or Bodrum airports, personal expenses & drinks
Contrasts of the Carian Trail
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Bafa Lake & Latmos Mountains
Bafa Lake and the extraordinarily craggy Latmos Mountain range rising steeply from its northern shore are unforgettable examples of the deepest rural Turkey...
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