The Turquoise Coast Feature

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The Lycian Way

Until the 1950s, the only way to reach the Lycian Coast was by boat or via bone-rattling trips through the mountains in antiquated motor vehicles. Even the main roads of today date only from the 1970s, which is is why this was the perfect place to site Turkey's first and most famous long-distance trekking route, the Lycian Way.

The footpath runs for more than 480 km (300 mi), marked by red-and-white painted blazes every 45 to 90 meters (50 to 100 yards) along the sea, following ancient Roman roads, and sometimes clambering up barely visible goat tracks to peaks that rise to nearly 6,500 feet at Mt. Tahtalı, one of many high mountains known as Mt. Olympos in antiquity. The upsides include breathtaking views, innumerable ancient ruins, and a chance to accept hospitality in villages little touched by tourism or time. The downside is that backpacks can be heavy and skills with a compass or satellite positioning devices are essential to avoid becoming lost in regions where few people pass by. Despite government support, the track has no legal status and is subject to adjustments due to landslides and fencing by landowners. If you lose the trail of the markers, go back to the last one you saw and try again. Be aware, too, that the yellow-and-green Lycian Way signposts are not maintained by their original sponsor, an Istanbul bank, and can be misleading.

It would take a month to walk the Lycian Way from end to end, but because it crosses many towns and highways it's easy to break up into sections of as little as one day. You can camp on high pastures, bathe in remote coves, or relax in pansiyons on the way. Kate Clow, the Englishwoman who first designed and mapped the Lycian Way in 2000, recommends several popular day walks near Olympos; her book The Lycian Way is the only guide and source of good maps of the route, and the Web site www.lycianway.com has updates and satellite grid references. Middle Earth Travel. As a trekking agent and mule organizer, Clow recommends Middle Earth Travel. The company runs excursions on the Lycian Way and St. Paul's Way, as well as Cappadocia, the Kaçkars, and Mt Ararat. Gaferli Mah., Cevizler Sokak 20, Göreme, Nevşehir, 50180. 384/271–2559 or. www.middleearthtravel.com.

Peak times to trek are February to mid-March (sometimes rainy), early May to mid-July (when spring flowers are out), or September to mid-November (when the seawater is warm and the weather cooler).

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