2011 Taurus Mountains: On the Lycian Way

Places Turkey, Taurus Mountains
Time & length February 2011, 2 ½ weeks
Partners solo trip
In February 2011 I went on a solo trip through the Taurus Mountains in Turkey following the Lycian Way. Trekking there is easy and offers some nice and scenic views as well as cultural insights, although it wasn’t an actual “wilderness trek”. Unfortunately I got attacked by a dog after two weeks which brought me into the hospital; shortly after that I flew home.
Before I booked flights to Turkey I was looking for a region easy and cheap to reach, relatively warm in February and without the need of too much planning. I was already working on my summer plans (Ladakh and Alaska) so I didn’t have much time left for this one. The Lycian Way looked like a good opportunity to see something new: it’s an easy mountain trail connecting the cities Fethiye and Antalya located in the South of Turkey and mostly following the coastline.

On the 11th of February I landed in Antalya and took the bus to Fethiye and further to the trailhead on the next day. It was a warm and sunny day. With a nice view over the lagoon of Ölüdeniz I hiked uphill until I reached a good campsite close to a cistern. Wells and cisterns served as the main water source on the whole trip, by the way; usually I filtered it with the Katadyn Pocket before drinking. So far I had never used a filter on my trips but the greenhouses in this area looked a bit suspicious to me. After a good sleep I got up before sunrise and started my hiking day at 7.30 in the morning as I usually do in such warm areas.

The way continued uphill and then down again to Kabak. Even though hiking the Lycian Way is not difficult, there is a lot of elevation gain. I walked at a normal pace of 25 kilometers a day so I had enough time to look for good campsites and water sources for the night. A few times locals invited me for tea and a snack, the Turkish people are known for their hospitality – for a reason!
The sections around the city of Kumluova were quite boring actually. Whoever is interested in historic places might like the excavations of Pydnai, Letoon and Xanthos, for me it was too much walking on roads as well as too much tourism in addition to all these ugly greenhouses. Happy to leave this place I continued my way by following an old aqueduct and finally hiked uphill towards the plateau of Bezirgan. A week later it rained more often, almost every day for a few hours, thunderstorms joined the wet weather. Sometimes it was pouring so hard that the loamy soil was totally muddy and hard to walk on. It also made finding a good campsite harder – one day I pitched my tent in an abandoned and dirty barn because the ground outside was all swampy.

A few days later I was starting my day on a gravel road in an area settled by farmers and shepherds when two loud barking dogs ran towards me. That wasn’t the first time – I had already seen enough wild and unbound dogs, but these two guys probably belonged to somebody. They were huge, well fed and very aggressive. I kept walking and didn’t pay attention as they came up closer and closer behind me. I was talking to them calmly but they didn’t stop barking. Then the bigger dog jumped towards me and bit my leg. I was bleeding and the wound hurt terribly. I kept walking and minutes later when I was safe again I looked at my leg: it wasn’t a big wound but the dog’s teeth had hit me deeply. Fortunately the pain was fading after a few hours – to be honest I didn’t pay much attention at all to this accident and just continued my way. In the afternoon I met some people and told them the story – they were actually quite concerned and wanted me to go to the hospital. Since I didn’t really know about my vaccine protection regarding hydrophobia I started wondering… maybe I should go.

In the evening I reached another settlement called “Purple House”. The owner told me just the same thing: since nobody knows if the dog that bit my leg was infected with hydrophobia I should go to a hospital. So I did: first by boat and then by taxi. I arrived at the hospital in Demre where I got two injections without any delay. The doctor gave me a list of dates: I had to come back four times at certain dates. I was discouraged: I had come to Turkey because of hiking and not to visit hospitals.

Anyway, I continued my hike on the next day with lots of pain in my right upper arm where the injection hit me. Also I felt kind of dizzy and tired – of course I shouldn’t have kept hiking after these two shots.
I couldn’t sleep, my arm hurt too much. My physical condition didn’t really improve the next day so while it was pouring on me I made my way back to the city of Demre where I checked into a cheap hostel. In an internet café I contacted my mother who knows a lot about these kinds of diseases – of course she wanted me to come home. I checked the weather forecast: rain for the entire week. Just out of interest I looked up the next flights to Germany: yes, there were flights and they were cheap.

On the next day when it was still raining heavily I made the decision to fly home after I got the second injection in the hospital. Staying there didn’t make any sense to me: I felt weak and couldn’t risk passing out out in the backcountry. Since I had to get injections regularly I couldn’t count on being in a good condition again anytime soon. Also I couldn’t count on always reaching a hospital in time on the way.
Many people advised me to take this issue seriously: hydrophobia is a deadly disease if not treated properly. Furthermore the wound could inflame; maybe I had to take antibiotics. And since the weather forecast looked terrible there was no point in staying there. In fact, the bad weather wasn’t part of the decision but it made it easier to give up. I obviously would have done the same in Alaska or any other places far away but here it didn’t cost me much effort to make this decision.

So I booked the next flight home. Back in Antalya I spent one more night and arrived in Germany the next afternoon. Shortly after that my wound was swollen and aching. The doctor gave me antibiotics and advised me not to do any kind of sport for now. I think I made the right decision.

After all I can’t really be happy about my trip through the Taurus Mountains. On the one hand the Lycian Way offered me some nice scenery and warm welcomes from the locals. With its nature, the ancient ruins and some cultural insights my time there was quite rich in variety although there wasn’t any pure wilderness trekking – something I knew before. With good weather everything would have been more enjoyable, not to mention getting bitten in the leg by a dog: that’s just one of these unpredictable thing that can happen on tour. Anyway, not much later I was fully recovered and looked forward to what was expecting me in summer.