The town Dalyan is set on the winding Dalyan River that flows in a maze of a delta network between the Mediterranean Sea and Lake Koycegiz. The cruise through the delta is amazing with its still waters and high bamboo and river grass growing just high enough that you can only see the little Turkish flags of the boats (but not the boats) going up and down the river. We were there 25 years ago and are dying to refresh our memories!
Having a beer on board at the Daylan Rock Tombs
The Daylan river cruise was very quickly arranged by the staff ashore (who also collected the money on the day we booked it) and we were ready to be picked up the next morning at 8 am at the marina. The typical wooden Turkish tourist sightseeing boat complete with its Turkish carpets and wooden bunks on the sides and his friendly skipper made for a great experience. The fact that we had shade over our heads on a very hot day was a blessing! We were fortunate enough to be the only two people on the boat that could easily take 10-15 people! I guess the early bird is catching the worm!
The skipper was not overly talkative but responded in a limited English to all our questions. The cave on our way was very impressive and he promised us, weather permitted, that he will on our way back let us swim right thought it!
Turtle beach was our next stop. We were dropped off in shallow waters and walked around the edges of a sliver of a beach almost hanging onto the rocks to get to the other side of Turtle Bay. We found traces and tracks of the loggerhead turtles, but unfortunately no little ones making their way to the waters!
As we left, another fishing boat was showing tourist what the big loggerhead turtles look like. They were lurked to the surface by a live crab on a hand-line. They are amazing creatures … but what really caught my eye was the beautiful blue crabs they have on the boat! We immediately booked a couple for lunch and started our boat trip through the maze of little waterways in amongst the river bamboos.
We stopped at the docks at the entrance to the ruins of ancient Caunos (Kaunos). It is not a long walk at all and certainly worth it! Although not a big place, there are some very well impressive ruins of buildings to be seen like the bath house – one of the best preserved examples surviving from the Roman Imperial period and the very impressive theater with a seating capacity for 5000 spectators!
It was getting really hot and the sulphur hot springs, tucked away from the tourists was a wonderful relaxing moment, but we needed cold water badly! Our skipper took us to the freshwater lake for a lovely swim! Suddenly we realised how buoyant we are in the highly concentrated seawater of the med is! It took a fair amount of effort and treading water to stay afloat in the fresh water.
We were very lucky to be on our own boat and the skipper was happy to do whatever we wanted to – he briefly stopped at the restaurants (double “parked”) for us to get a beer each and off we went again to look at the magical ancient rock tombs of the Kings of Caunos- high up on the mountain cliffs. The rock tombs have become another symbol of Dalyan just like the Loggerhead sea turtles (called the Caretta Caretta) and the lovely delta.
Although there are many rock tombs around the area, the most famous once are those directly opposite to Dylan Town. Two styles of rock tombs can be seen here: the simple chambers, cut into the rock face like a chamber and the more elaborated temple tombs. The later’s style of carving, made them Lycian Rock Tombs. Inside is a burial chamber with carved stone benches for the bodies of the deceased and in some of them are also tables for offerings dedicated to the deceased. (The tombs were covered with large stone slabs which were coated by a thick plaster mixed with gravel of various sizes.)
By the way, the Lycians seem to belief that the souls of their dead would be transported from the tombs to the after world by a sort of winged siren-like creature, and so often placed their tombs along the coast or at the top of cliffs when they were not integrated into the liveable areas of the cities.
We had the wonderful, mesmerizing view of the tombs from the riverside restaurants at Dylan, with a glass of wine and some local food. We did not stay too long, because we have ordered the blue crabs for lunch and would not miss that for anything in the world! In fact … in all of Turkey, that was the best “seafood” (they could be semi-fresh water crabs too?) we had! Steaming hot, freshly caught and cooked right there on the fishing boat, were served with lemon wedges only on a paper plate… and that meant a great hands-on experience!
On our way back to My Marina, our skipper stopped on the one side of a massive cave and sked if we would like to swim through the cave – he picked us up on the other side. It was a lovely refreshing swim but not the easiest and a deceivingly long distance! With no idea what is underneath you and with no goggles to check out the area, every now and then it became so shallow that I kicked into a rock. Once inside, it was pretty dark, but the view to the exit was amazingly beautiful! The water so pristine, clear and the contrast from the dark grotto to the bright sunlight painted a fabulous picture, still sitting quietly in the back of my mind.