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Discover the delights of Dalyan on a walking break
Dalyan: What do you think of when someone mentions Turkey? Is it ancient ruins, bustling beach resorts, and vibrant cities – or do you take a minute to realize they mean the country, not an important component of a Thanksgiving dinner?
Either way, you probably haven’t considered the wonderful opportunities for wildlife spotting in the nation and there’s no better place to this than Dalyan. This is a sleepy town on the south-west coast of Turkey, in the Mugla province. It’s relatively close to one of the region’s main airports – Dalaman – making it easy to reach.
Unlike at the nearby beach resorts of Marmaris and Fethiye, you won’t be surrounded by other holidaymakers, all jostling for a spot on the sand. In Dalyan, you can expect peace, quiet, and plenty of opportunities to go walking and exploring.
The river delta
Rather than strapping on your hiking boots straight away and striding out to explore some of the forest-covered hills that surround the town, climb into one of the small boats that ferry people up and down the river.
This is a great way to explore the Dalyan River delta, which is a protected area thanks to the wealth of wildlife it supports. In amongst the reed beds you can spot all manner of birds, from storks and little egrets to corn buntings and kingfishers. Look up to the sky and you may catch sight of a white-tailed eagle or black kite soaring overhead.
One of the main attractions for visitors to Dalyan lies at the top of the river estuary, though – a sand spit called Iztuzu Beach. This 7.5 km stretch of sand is a nesting ground for loggerhead and green turtles, which means it’s totally untouched by development.
Hop out of your river taxi and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach. Keep an eye out for the wooden stakes in the sand that denote nesting areas. The breeding season usually begins in May and continues into June, with the young hatching approximately two months later. To protect the turtles, you’re not allowed on the beach after 8 pm in the evening, but you may be able to spot one or two of these amazing creatures in the water if you go snorkeling around this time of the year.
Turkey is home to numerous archaeological sites, each offering you the chance to get a glimpse into its long and varied history. Near Dalyan is the ancient city of Caunos, now largely in ruins. It covers an extensive area and much of it has yet to be excavated, so it’s a great place for a gentle stroll.
Take your time to explore the many structures that have been uncovered, including a theatre, Roman baths, a marketplace, and a temple. The buildings here are thought to date back to 2 BC, so it’s probably one of the oldest settlements you’re ever likely to visit!
In the cliffs on the opposite side of the river to Dalyan, there are some more ancient ruins – this time in the form of Lycian tombs, constructed as resting places for the kings of Caunos. The best way to view these is from the river and you’re bound to wonder how they managed to carve these chambers out of the rock face all those centuries ago.
After spending an active break in Dalyan, you can soothe your muscles by paying a visit to the thermal springs and mud baths in nearby Sultaniye. The mineral-rich waters here are said to have a range of healing qualities, while taking a mud bath is believed to be great for your skin, thanks to the minerals it contains. Let’s be honest, wallowing in mud and then relaxing in warm springs is loads of fun, too.