Yalikakav to Lake Bafa (Agean, Turkey)

We have three days before we can collect the camper van that we’re going to use to walk sections of the Lycian Way. What to do? I’ve looked at a map of the Agean area of Turkey and see Lake Bafa. Google images brings up some interesting historic ruins, bloggers have written about hiking in the area and there seems to be a nice guesthouse on the lake’s shores. So I suggest we make it our base for the next few days.

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Our route will take us past Milas and on to Lake Bafa. As we near Milas I notice a huge castle to our left. Becin Castle stands high up on a cliff-lined knoll. It’s got rounded walls to match the shape of the cliffs. We drive up and discover that the ruins are extensive. There’s not only the castle but a whole city behind it; some of which is still actively being dug up by archaelogists today.

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The castle dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries CE when the Byzantines built the castle. It included the fortress, mosque, hamam (Turkish baths) and a school. I find it fascinating that a few months ago I was exploring Hungarian castles that were built in defense against the Ottoman Empire and now I am at the other end of the scale: in Turkey visiting Byzantine castles that were built in defense against the Ottoman Empire before that empire invaded Hungary.

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The castle has been under renovation since 1974 and some is in fantastic condition for it’s age; like these tomb stones at the graveyard.

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And inside the castle fortress you can really see that there was a whole community living here at one time (and probably later times too).

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And did I mention the view yet? The view from the castle is spectacular. It gives an amazing oversight of this part of Turkey’s landscape. I can see exactly why the castle was built here.

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We drive down the hill and stop in Milas. It’s an old city that has been occupied since about 450BCE. There are hints of its history around the city but mostly it’s a modern market town with narrow cobble stoned streets, modern cafes and a hint of poverty in its run down residential buildings and old cars. We eat delicious cakes in a restaurant, take a turn through the city and stop at a grocery store for supplies. It’s nice to take a walk through a town to see what life in Turkey is like outside the tourist mecca of Bodrum.

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Lake Bafa appears over a high steep ridge as though it were an ocean, rather than a lake. Mind you, Lake Bafa was once part of the Agean Sea so this might be why it appears this way. We have booked into the Hotel Silva Oliva. No one is sure what to expect from our guesthouse. It turns out to be absolutely gorgeous. There are lots of little cottages set into the mountain side about the lake with a short path to the lake front, which is also part of the hotel property. This is a working olive farm so the cottages are set into the grove and surrounded by beautiful grey-green leaves.

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Mum and I set off on foot to explore the lake front.

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There’s no real path but we make do quite well pushing our way through prickles and balancing along rocks. Being on foot is a great way to connect with your surrounds and work out where you are. We find a geocache at a nearby lookout where a man is selling fruit. We buy two appples. When we ask how much he wants for them he tells us to make an offer. We give him 2TL ($AU1) and he seems content with this. Eating our apples we continue our adventure.

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We come across a turtle. I’ve never seen a land turtle before, only swamp-loving tortoises. Mum can’t help herself and picks it up for a closer look. She tells me that she had turtles as pets when she was a child so no doubt she’s having a moment of reminiscence. The difference between these land turtles and the swampy ones we have at home is that land turtles don’t stink. So it’s not disgusting to pick them up.

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We find our way back to the hotel. All that’s left to do now is put up our feet, relax and watch the sunset over the lake. Later we will dine in the hotel’s restaurant while the moon rises in the east, casting a white glow across the lake. The restaurant is fantastic. It overlooks the lake, is very local, has a friendly host who has lived in the area all his life and serves fresh local home made food. Not a bad way to end the day at all.

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