Donkey Trekking through the Latmos Mountains
Slow down to the traditional pace of village and mountain life
South of Izmir and inland on the shores of magnificent Lake Bafa sits this unspoiled gem of rural Turkey, where villagers herd their cows along the only street, and where village houses grow so organically out of the ancient ruins and giant slabs of rock dotting the landscape that it is close to impossible to tell one from the other. The village of Kapıkırı is the starting point for a donkey trek that takes us deep into the welcoming folds of the Latmos Mountain range for five nights under the stars. Join us and our long-eared, loyal companions on a trek through sacred olive groves, lush forests and boulder-strewn mountain slopes for this unforgettable holiday experience.
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 and 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.
Look forward to
Enjoy the rustically perfect scene of the villagers leading their animals back to their stables along the main street for the night, and then recreate the scene when we set off on our own donkey trek the next morning. Worship the “weather god” at the summit of Mount Latmos and reconnect with yourself and with nature.
- Explore bizarre rock formations and mythical landscapes on foot
- Live in harmony with our loyal, long-eared companions
- Camp under the stars of an Aegean sky
- Climb to the summit of the Latmos Mountains
- Explore ancient ruins
- Walk through centuries-old olive groves
- Visit quaint mountain villages where time has stood still
Welcome to Turkey! Arrival in Izmir or Bodrum, airport pick-up and transfer to Bafa Lake and the Agora Guesthouse in Kapıkırı Village. Welcome dinner and orientation session at the guesthouse.
Wake-up to the sound of the donkeys braying and the rooster crowing. Enjoy an amazing home cooked Turkish breakfast. Get the lay of the land by exploring the ruins of the ancient city of Heraclea, upon which the modern village of Kapıkırı is built and its predecessor, the ancient settlement of Latmos. We will walk for approximately 6 hours today. At the remains of the Bouleuterion (the ancient council chambers) we come face to face with antiquity on our way to the lake and the necropolis. A visit to the Christ Pantocrator cave icon from the Byzantine period is the highlight of this first day. On the way home to the guesthouse we pass by the sacred resting place of mythical Endymion and see a Hellenistic castle jutting out into the lake. We meet our donkeys in the olive grove on the way home to a delicious dinner at the guesthouse. We call it an early night. Early departure in the morning.
At daybreak we eat a hearty breakfast and then finally set out with our long-eared companions. Each donkey will carry the bags of two guests. Guests only carry their daypacks with their water bottles. You will have the same donkey for the whole week, and learn how to groom and take care of it. As the week passes you will gain its trust and come to appreciate its loyal and hard-working nature. We walk through ancient Latmos and start our ascent into the mountains, following ancient cobbled roads and seeing a diversity of landscapes – from bizarre rock formations of gneiss and shimmering mica to ancient olive groves. We stop often to admire the view over the lake, or for the guide to explain some of the flora and fauna of the region. We are rewarded with a home-cooked meal at a shepherd’s hut and enjoy a cozy evening by the fire, falling deeply asleep in our tents under the stars. Ascent from 35 m to 550 m over 11 km.
Our day begins early and as it has for thousands of years: with fresh spring water and fresh goat’s milk. Our route takes us through a fragrant pine forest to the hilltop ruins of the ancient settlement of Bağarcık. The beginning of the route goes steeply uphill and takes us to Stylos Monastery before flattening out. While the daily stages are tiring, the pace is steady and we take regular breaks to fortify ourselves. Watching the donkeys carry our heavy loads always gives us renewed motivation to continue. Our destination is the ancient Temple of Zeus in a small valley north of the hilltop settlement. In modern-day Bağarcık village we will be received by the mayor and his wife and welcomed into their family home. Opportunity to shower. We will exchange stories and share a traditional Turkish meal. Accommodation tonight is dormitory style in one large room in the village house. UP 1000 m, DOWN 650 m over 10 km.
Today we climb to the summit of the Latmos Mountains – called Tekerlek Dağı by the locals – at 1375 m. It is a stony path and as we climb over large boulders and slabs of rock as we get closer and closer to the summit, we realize just how convenient the ascent is with the donkeys as our companions and loyal porters. The view of Bafa Lake and the Greek islands on a clear day to the south and small villages nestled in lush hills facing the north is breathtaking. We take a well-earned break and each pay a visit to the weather gods in our own way. It becomes clear why this has been a spiritual place of worship since prehistoric times. We camp near a limestone cave at about 1200 m. We enjoy each other’s company, exchange stories and a rustic meal cooked over the campfire. 15 km today.
Today we begin our descent. We will walk for only about 4 hours today, but our knees will thank us when make camp and pitch our tents in a lush terraced garden with a view of the mountain village of Karahayıt further down the mountain from us. We have time to relax this afternoon, some guests perhaps taking the time to read a good book and some to document their impressions in their journals. Again we share meals and stories, and as dusk falls and the stars fill the sky, we feel immensely thankful and connected. Begin at 1200 m, descent to 500 m over 8 km.
Our descent continues. After an hour or so we arrive in the village below us. We explore the village of Karahayıt this morning with its old stone houses and have a tea break at the teahouse. We will take a short detour to visit the goal of today’s leg of the journey: the Seven Brothers Monastery (Yediler) perched high on a cliff overlooking the lake before we descend back the rest of the way back down to Bafa Lake. Returning to the Agora Pansiyon we take the donkeys back to their pasture in the olive grove. Many find it difficult to say goodbye to their long-eared friends, after sharing so much with them. Tired but satisfied, our guests are treated to a visit of the guesthouse’s hamam (Turkish bath). As this will be the farewell evening and our last evening to share our impressions and relive our experiences from our hike, our hosts will throw an elaborate barbeque. Descent from 500 m to 35 m over 8.4 km.
Return day and transfer to Izmir or Bodrum airport. Farewell und see you again next time!
Included in the Price
- airport transfers on arrival and departure days
- three meals a day (breakfast, lunch & dinner); water, coffee & tea included
- English-speaking, local guide
- 2 nights at the Agora Guesthouse, based on double occupancy with your own facilities; 1 night in a village house; 4 nights in a tent under the stars
- Children and infants 0-6 years old are free, children 7-12 years old receive a 50% discount
Excluded: return flights to Izmir or Bodrum, personal expenses & drinks
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