Thursday, October 8, 2015

Olympos - Ulupınar

The Lycian Way day 25.
Distance: 15.0km (401.8km), time spent: 4:37 (153:23).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 14m / 250m / 340m.
Weather: Clear, some clouds.

The tree house stood still, no swaying, during the night. I slept well (the tree houses here has air condition). The breakfast, a large buffet, is served in the ground floor of the hangar (as they call the restaurant in the big common house). I sit down with Chris, today he will go the flames of the Chimaera and camp near them. Tomorrow he will be finished with his walk, unless he changes his mind. Melike arrived later and chose to sit outside.

Kadir's Tree Houses in Olympos, at the entrance in front of the restaurant.

Ahead of me on the trail today lies an important choice; in Çıralı, the trail is literally splitting in half and the two trails are not reunited until after about three days. I have already decided to take the trail that goes inwards into the country and up into the mountains, to climb up to the summit of Tahtalı Dağı (Mount Olympos) has for long been a goal for me here. The other trail follows the coast and brings you past among other attractions the ruins of Phaselis (that boasts a good view towards Tahtalı Dağı), Tekirova (town where there is a DC-3 plane parked on the beach) and an old Roman bridge.

View towards Tahtalı Dağı (Mount Olympos) from the main road to Antalya, on the search for an atm.

After breakfast, the first thing I do is not taking my backpack and continue walking. My wallet is hungry and needs refilling. Yesterday I asked if there was a bank automat nearby or in Çıralı (the next place on the trail) and was told that to find the nearest one I had to get up to the main road to Antalya. A dolmuş brings me up to the road after a winding and bumpy ride. Up there, I am told that the bank automat lies well over a kilometre further along the trafficked road. The positive of all this is that there is a great view of Tahtalı Dağı from here. I have to wait for quite a while for the dolmuş back down again after getting my much-needed cash, still puzzled about the fact that there is not a bank automat in the middle of all the tourists in Olympos and Çıralı. Anyway, I got myself a small adventure.

At the Çıralı-beach.

Since I did not walk out of the ruins of Olympos in the same end as the Lycian Way does, I have to begin today's walk by going through the ruins again. Which means I have to pay the entry fee. The ruins has not become more ruined since yesterday. The Çıralı-beach is afterwards emerging from the ruins. The beach is four kilometres long and caretta caretta turtles nests here. The trail only does a short guest performance in the sand.

Melike turns up at the trail junction in Çıralı and we continue in the direction the sign with Ulupınar on is pointing towards. It first crosses a bridge and then we stop dead in our tracks, and starts to laugh (strictly speaking, I do not know whether I should cry or laugh). Melike gets a small fit of laughter. The first thing we see on the other side of the bridge are two bank automats, so much for the knowledge of your neighbourhood.

Ornaments on a wall outside a house in the Ulupınar Dere-valley.

There has been some days now since the Lycian Way send me on a detour, a small thumbs up for that. Now though, the trail sends Melike and me on a wrong turn again. We do not find it out before after about three kilometres later. However, I have to take a large part of the blame myself, the signpost is pointing in the completely wrong direction (most likely it has been moved and is standing in the wrong place), but a look at the map would probably have solved the matter. We have walked up the valley of Ulupınar Dere and between us and the actual trail lies Yanar Dağı.

A bold hen takes flight from the fruit basket in a small café at the entrance to the Chimaera Yanartaş.

On the map, we see that there is a path going over the Yanar-mountain to the Chimaera-flames. Melike chooses to try the path across; the purist in me forces me back again. Fortunately, I quickly get a lift back to Çıralı again. Back in Çıralı, I meet Chris, who also was about to take the same way as we did. After a short time in the proper direction, I come to what I believe is the real junction, I recognize the place from pictures I have seen on other blogs.

When I leave Çıralı, it is a partly barren and dry area that awaits me, more of the red hills are in the background. A red sign is warning me that I am entering a flammable area; smoking is probably something one should be careful doing around here. A small café lies at the entrance to the park. I take a break here and find myself engaged in a conversation with a German couple visiting the place. Another entry fee is bought. A landscaped path of stones leads up to the flames.

A landscaped rocky path through the woods up towards the flames of Chimaera.

The flames of Chimaera are natural gas that burns constantly. The gas-flames issues forth from cracks in the surface, which is otherwise characterized by the scorched rock caused by the heat. The legend says it was here Bellerophon defeated the mythical creature Chimarea, which supposedly was a fire-breathing mix of lion, goat and snake. He was aided by his just as mythical helper, Pegasus, a horse that also carried a set of wings. The most mythical that happens at the flames now are the tourists grilling marshmallows over the flames in the evening and night.

The continually burning flames of the Chimaera.

A tenacious reek of methane lies over the area when I arrive. Here and there small fires from the ground appears, it is fascinating. Remains of the temple of Hephaistos (or Vulcan, the blacksmith god) that also included a lighthouse lies buried under the remains of a Byzantine church. Melike sits above and waves down to me, quite satisfied by getting here first. We have brought very little with us that can be grilled over the flames, but for fun, I make use of the time to dry my t-shirt over them.

Most of the tourists grills marshmallows over the flames in the evening; I use the flames to dry my t-shirt.

There are more of these natural occurrences of fire higher up on the trail, just below Çatal Tepe, but they are not as distinct as the first ones you come to. The path up is nice and relatively steep. I pass by several groups walking in the opposite direction. Russians, again. At the top of the pass, Mount Olympos again appears in the horizon, it is later in the day now and so the usual clouds has taken shape around the summit. There are nice places for camping at the pass, however you should not put the tent on top of where flames could be emerging, so we assume this is where Chris will be camping. The meeting in Çıralı was the last time I met him.

The descent to the Kara Dere-valley below Ulupınar.

From the top of the pass, the path heads down through the woods to the Kara Dere-valley, where the trail makes a peculiar course in the dried out riverbed. At the Havuzbaşı-restaurant in Ulupınar, which looks rather worn, I have to decide upon what to do next. I have enough time left of the day to get me to Beycik, but that means a shorter walk tomorrow, where I wish to go to a pass below Tahtalı Dağı to camp. The best way to experience the view from Tahtalı Dağı is to climb to the summit in the morning, which the clouds that are now surrounding the mountain bears witness of.

The Selale restaurant in Ulupınar, the tables and seats stands on platforms on top of a waterfall.

Melike arrives while I am waiting. We find ourselves a table in the restaurant close by, Selale. Here the tables and seats stands on platforms on the top of a waterfall. It quickly gets apparent that we have finished walking for the day. Where to stay the night is an open question. Ironically, we end up finding a place in Beycik, Nara Resort, the owner comes and picks us up. We at the restaurant in Ulupınar, so at the hotel we just relaxes with a cold efes and talks to the owner of the hotel, Galip. A notable day on the journey today.

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