Fortunately, all is not lost.
The Lycian Way in Turkey offers the ultimate combination of hiking along scenic trails and relaxing on idyllic beaches.
The new meets the old
The Lycian Way is a 509km path on Turkey’s south-west coast that passes through amazing scenery, from mountains to coastline.
It gets its name from the Lycian people, who in about 200 BC – in between being ruled by the Persians and the Romans – created their own confederation of city states. Lycia was the world’s first democratic union – a great source of pride for Turks today.
While the route is almost as old as the hills it passes through, it was only sign-posted for tourists and walkers earlier this decade.
The upshot is that the Lycian Way is an easily accessible trail that anyone without a 60-fag a day habit can do.
Perhaps the most accessible part is a 20km stretch near the fabulous coastal town of Fethiye (see page 82 for details).
The Lycian Way starts just inland from one of the most photographed destinations in Turkey – the Dead Sea beach at Ölüdeniz.
The lagoon, framed by long sandy beaches and mountainous national park, looks the perfect place for lounging.
But anyone walking the Lycian Way through the wooded hillside above is rewarded not only with magnificent views, but also the feeling of being liberated from jostling for a deckchair on the beach or paying over the top for a poolside drink.
As the trail winds up the views get even better, though you share them with a bunch of kids – but these are the mountain goat kind rather than the sort on a school excursion.
After climbing up the hill you come to the small village of Kozagac, where you join a dirt road to another village, Kirme.
From there the path veers off to a small track, which takes you to Faralya.
If this were France or Italy, the scenery at Faralya would be world-famous and the village packed with enormous villas.
Thankfully it’s not the case here.
Taking it easy
Perched high above a long gorge, the hills rise even further behind Faralya, while 1000ft below lies Butterfly Valley.
The valley is the first stop on the holy grail trail. Although the occasional boat dumps day-tripping tourists off here for an hour or two, only a couple of dozen people at a time stay in tents or bungalows overnight.
If you are after non-stop party action and phat tunes pumping throughout the night, then Butterfly Valley will disappoint.
If you want a more peaceful time, however, this is the place to stay.
The palm-fringed alfresco bar, situated right on the beach, is a treat.
The seawater is crystal clear, and the view back up the valley to the waterfall at the end of the gorge is unforgettable.
From Faralya the Lycian Way heads to Kabak, passing rocky terraces, which have been hewn from the hillside, shepherds watching over their flocks of sheep and goats, and pine forests that wouldn’t look out of place in a Scandinavian deodorant advert.
In Kabak, where there are small, family-run cafés serving up freshly squeezed orange juice, the views over the valleys below and mountains above are again majestic.
But still it gets better.
The end of the road
From Kabak, a 40-minute walk down a steep path leads you to the tranquil, sublime Gemile Beach. Once there, it really does feel like you’ve reached the end of the track – if you want serenity central, this is where you will find it.
If you plan to stay at Gemile Beach for a bit longer, you can either find a spot to pitch your own tent, or you can spend the night in one of the bungalows.
Fittingly, there are several places offering yoga sessions.
But given Gemile Beach’s hassle-free vibe even the most stressed out of folks would need little more than an hour on the beach, drink in hand, to wind down and reflect on finding the holy grail.
» Daniel Landon travelled to Turkey with Intrepid (020 3147 7777; intrepidtravel.com). A 12-day Active Turkey tour is £455.
Walking the Lycian Way
The Nuts and bolts
Intrepid Travel (intrepidtravel.com) runs tours of Turkey that include guided walks along the Lycian Way, or arrange your own guides at George’s House (georgehouse.net.tc).
The cost is from 40 lira per day.
You can do the trail without a guide. It is marked with red and white dots to follow. Get maps from lycianway.com.
Anyone vaguely fit will be OK, though it’s very hot in summer, and rocky and steep in places, so you need to take care and wear good shoes.
Where to start
From Fethiye take a dolmus (minibus) bound for Ölüdeniz. Get off at the Montana Pines resort on the outskirts of Ovacik (drivers will know it). The trail is marked from there.
It’s 14km from Ovacik to Faralya (about four hours).
The water from the taps built into big concrete wells is safe to drink, but take food with you.
Faralya has several places offering basic but comfortable rooms – the best is George’s House where you can also pitch a tent and pick up maps of the trails around Faralya, mapped by an Aussie walker.
The only access (other than by boat) is a steep, rocky trail from George’s House, which is about a 45-minute walk.
You can stay in a tent-like hut or bungalow at Butterfly Valley, or pitch a tent.
There are places to eat and drink.
It’s 5km from Faralya to Kabak, or the coastal path is an easy 9km walk which offers the chance to swim in secluded coves.
From Kabak it’s a further 2km down a steep track (about 40 minutes) to Gemile Beach.
From Kabak you can take a dolmus back to Fethiye, or you can continue on the Lycian Way, stretching a further 490km to Antalya.
Getting active in Turkey
Mountains, beaches, islands – see them while strapped in a parachute as you launch from the top of Mount Babadag, outside Fethiye.
Get an adrenaline surge at Saklikent Gorge, 45 minutes from Fethiye, as you jump, scramble, swim and dive your way down river.
Or opt for a gentle paddle in an inflatable raft.
Kas (pronounced cash), a seaside town about two hours from Fethiye, has more dive operators than you can shake a wetsuit at. For good reason – diving in the clear water is top-notch.
Ucagiz (also known by its ancient Greek name Kekova) is the starting point for trips over a sunken Byzantine city (pictured above right), and to the hillside town of Kalekoy (Simena) only accessible by boat or foot.
The views of the ruined fortress from the top are spectacular.
The other-worldly scenery of Cappadocia is awesome, but seeing it from a hot-air balloon (below) makes it even more memorable.