Located close to some of the most important cultural and historical sites for tourism in Turkey, like Ephesus, Labranda, Halicarnassus (Bodrum) and Alinda, the picture-perfect natural setting of glorious Bafa Lake against the backdrop of the rugged Latmos Mountains is an ideal starting point for your holiday to Turkey. The region has seen human settlement for millennia, as evidenced by over one hundred prehistoric rock paintings discovered in the area since 1994. Pair this with the ruins of Byzantine castles on the lake’s shore and islands, rock-cut shrines and frescoes, ancient monasteries and an almost absurdly picturesque rural village and its friendly hosts, and you have the recipe for an authentic and memorable holiday in Western Turkey.
Bafa Lake and the extraordinarily craggy Latmos Mountain range rising steeply from its northern shore are unforgettable examples of the deepest rural Turkey surviving within an hour’s drive of mass tourism destinations Bodrum and Kușadası. For those that venture this far off the beaten path, turning off the highway at the vast expanse of water that is Bafa Lake is well worth your while. Day-hikers, walking clubs, overnight trekkers, outdoor enthusiasts and naturalists of all varieties will immediately recognize the immense value of the beautiful surroundings and this unspoiled taste of village culture. Tread the same paths as 8th century hermits and Byzantine monks as you wander the boulder-strewn mountain slopes between monastic ruins and caves concealing prehistoric rock paintings.
In antiquity, Bafa Lake was a bay in the Aegaen Sea, but silt deposited by the Büyük Menderes (Meander River) landlocked the gulf over time, and transformed it into the 15 km by 5 km wide lake it is today. Due to its formation history it is home to both salt and freshwater species, the water retaining a degree of salinity. Since it is an extensive nature preserve, the area has remained relatively unaffected by tourism.
Boat trips are a wonderful way to explore the rich wildlife and historic ruins sprinkling the shores and islands of the lake. Ornithologists can observe a plethora of different bird species native to the lake, including pelicans, grebes, egrets, herons, storks, flamingos, hawks and partridges. Botanists can identify up to twenty endemic orchid varieties on the slopes of the Latmos Mountains. Rock climbers can challenge themselves on an abundance of colossal boulders that enliven the hilly landscape.