It would be difficult to find a flowerier place in the entire Mediterranean than the Datça Peninsula. What for much of the year is a forbiddingly barren-looking mountainous peninsula erupts into spectacular bloom in April and May. The combination of multi-hued Cistus bushes, bushes of blue Lithodora, neat mounds of flowering Euphorbias, great splashes of pink Convolvulus and the architectural Giant Fennels is mind-boggling.
Looking closer there’s so much more. The gorgeous deep pink-lilac Iberis pruitii grows on bare tracks looking someone’s dropped packets of sweets as they’ve walked, and there’s little mounds of the very woolly Convolvulus compactus. Orchids are everywhere, in particular bee orchids, and Datça has many species of them – Ophrys candica, Ophrys minoa, Ophrys episcopalis and Ophrys ferrum-equinum subspecies mandalyana are some of the finest. Serapias cordigera showers the open pinewoods with deep brick-coloured blooms and here they occur in unusual forms too with flowers often wholly or partly lime-green. These same pinewoods are home to a population of Caracal – we’ll go and look in the evening though chances are very slim, however we’ve a very good chance of seeing Wild Boar, Stone Marten and several owl species – Barn, Tawny, Long-eared and Scop’s Owls are all likely.
The wild and rugged Datça Peninsula is barely 80 kilometres from the modern tourist resorts around Marmaris yet it has managed to remain largely unspoilt and undeveloped into the 21st century. Much of the peninsula is protected as a national park that was set up more than fifty years ago initially to protect the last Western Anatolian population of Leopard. None have been seen for around fifteen years now however there are still Brown Bears and Wolves here and very many Ibex. We’ll surely see the latter – posing on the limestone ramparts of Boz Dagi. This high rugged mountain has impressive cliffs on which breed various raptors including Bonelli’s Eagles, Peregrine and Lanner Falcon and the northern slopes, almost completely uninhabited are clothed is some of the richest lushest maquis in Turkey. Ruppell’s Warblers and Bonelli’s Warblers are everywhere. We’ll be based just outside the lovely little town of Datça close to this mountain and just 35 kilometres from the Knidos, a remarkable archaeological site at the tip of the peninsula. Cory’s Shearwaters and Audouin’s Gulls are offshore along with Bottle-nosed Dolphins.
Pamukkale needs little introduction, images of the fabulous aquamarine travertine terraces that cascade down the mountainside near Denizli are featured everywhere that talks of Turkey. The ancient Greco-Roman city of Hieropolis was built above the remarkable terraces. Nearby rises Honaz Dağı, an impressive mountain at over 8350 feet (2570m) and which has a very different flora and fauna to the Datça Peninsula. Here we can find clumps of yellow Iris suaveolens and the unusual yellow Moltkia aurea whilst birds include Cretzschmarr’s Buntings, Short-toed Eagles and Woodlark.
Colourful cliffs beset with spectacular Lycian Rock Tombs dominate the pleasant little town of Dalyan nestled against a bend in the Dalyan (ancient Calbys) River. Dalyan could hardly have more diverse habitats. Within a few kilometres are reedbeds, lakes, beaches, limestone maquis, pine forests, globally important Liquidambar Forests, mountains and cliffs. Not surprising then that Dalyan is so rich in wildlife. A gentle walk takes us through the ruins of the Carian Port at Kaunos where Rock Nuthatches shout from ancient arches and you’re sure to see numerous Agama Lizards and even the odd Balkan Green Lizard sunning themselves. A rich flora includes many bellflowers, campions, boraginaceae and orchids such as Holy Orchid and various Tongue Orchids. White-breasted Kingfishers can be sometimes be seen from the river front of our hotel though we’ll more certainly encounter them in Hamitköy marshes at the other end of the lake and close by our hotel in Köyceğiz. Masses of tall egg-yolk yellow Iris xanthospuria dominates the meadows here in a spectacular show with the tall fluffy paler wands of Thalictrum flavum for company. This is migrant bird heaven with an unimaginable variety of warblers, as well as Collared, Pied and even Semi-collared Flycatchers, Wryneck, and lots of Shrikes – Woodchat, Red-backed and Masked. Bee-eaters and Hoopoes will now be passing through and we’ll enjoy the various forms of Yellow Wagtail, especially the local Black-headed one. We’ll use one of these boats to explore the river system and Lake Köyceğiz, a wonderfully relaxing trip, and with plenty of birds; Herons and Egrets, Terns and Harriers. Lesser Emperor Dragonflies and Slender and Epaulet Skimmers race by, or perch on the boat’s rails. Long-legged Buzzard and Short-toed Eagles drift overhead as we visit Dalyan’s four-kilometre long beach. Loggerhead Turtles will already have begin their nesting season but in daylight hours one is still allowed there and we can usually see them hanging around just offshore. Marshy pools and reedbeds next to the Liquidamabar woods are home to the gorgeous Indigo Dropwing, Eastern Willow Spreadwing and the rare Turkish Red Damsel Ceriagrion georgifreyi whilst Southern Swallowtails and Southern White Admirals course up and down the shadey tracks. Middle-spotted Woodpeckers, Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers, Hawfinches and Golden Orioles are among the birds that make these emerald-green woodlands their home. Spurred Helleborines and the lovely deep red-pink ‘rubra’ form of Violet Limodores are common. Further up into the mountains we’ll pass through mixed pine and plane woodlands where we can see Green Woodpeckers, Short-toed Treecreepers and maybe even White-backed Woodpeckers. Up onto the highest, almost alpine areas of Sandros Mountain and we’ll look for Black Woodpecker, Goshawk and Kruper’s Nuthatch around a small lake where snow may still be lying and Colchicums, Crocuses and Gageas are in bloom.
Dates and Prices
13th April - 27th April 2024 (15 days)
* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged
Flowers, Birds and Butterflies. Also Archaeological Sites and Pammukkale, Marine Life, Reptiles, and Rural Turkey.
One leader for a group of up to 8, 2 leaders up to the maximum group size of 15. Yiannis will lead the first week, with Ozan Balkan as second leader, Ed will lead the second week, with Sonir Bekir as second leader
All flights. All transport, accommodation and meals in Turkey. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature, including insurance, are not included. No visa is now required for UK nationals. Flower, bird and butterfly checklists are available.
We start with 5 nights we will be at the lovely Eski Datça Hotel situated in quiet Eski (Old) Datça. This small family-run hotel has very comfortable rooms and a well-stocked bar and serves very good traditional Turkish food. Then we’ve two nights at the Melrose House Hotel in Pamukkale, close by the famed travertine terraces.
Moving to the shores of Köyceğiz we have 3 nights at the beautifully situated Kaunos Hotel on the shores of Lake Köyceğiz. Balconied rooms have marvellous vies out over the lakes, mountains and marshes that must be one of the most beautiful vistas in Turkey. We finish the tour with 4 nights at the excellent Dalyan Resort by the river in Dalyan. Like most of Dalyan the hotel is single storey. The well-equipped rooms are very comfortable and are spread through the grounds. The restaurant produces great fare, and there’s a good-sized swimming pool and even a hamam or Turkish bath and sauna. The centre of Dalyan is a ten-minute stroll, and an excellent place for a bit of Turkish carpet shopping!
All rooms have en suite facilities.
Very gentle, just two or three miles a day, and always at a slow pace, ideally suited to photography.
This tour uses direct return flights to Dalaman and these are available from many UK regional airports*.
*These routes may incur a supplement but most don’t.
Usually settled, sunny and warm, Southwest Turkey is very sunny however in April the odd day with showers and cooler weather is possible. In Pamukkale it may be cooler at least at night, and when we visit some of the higher mountains it may feel a little chilly and there will be some snow on the ground. Conversely in may be getting a little hot in Dalyan at the end of the tour!
Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back to us. You will receive confirmation of your place, and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.