David's Diary: Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Exploring the Dalyan River, Turkey

Tour Boat
Tour Boat and Captain

We were up early to arrange for a boat trip to the Dalyan River. Ekincik Limai, the bay we were in, is the closest protected anchorage to the Dalyan River and every day there are tour operators who sell half- and full-day trips. While we were bargining, Steve and Deb from Nowornot came ashore to say goodbye. They are heading west while we will continue east.

Iztuzu Warning
Iztuzu Beach Turtle Warning Sign

By 9:00 we had left the dock. We had a tour boat to ourselves and the captain spoke good English. He took us by some caves in the cliffs then across the water to the mouth of the Dalyan River. We passed an island just off a large beach, then rounded the beach and passed lots of reeds as we entered the river proper.

We stopped at the beach to look around. Iztuzu beach is one of the last hatching grounds of the loggerhead turtle. Between May and September the female loggerhead turtles come ashore and lay their eggs. Everywhere we looked there were warning signs reminding people about the turtles and their eggs. All along the beach a series of white posts had been driven into the sand. On the shore side of the posts were sun chairs and beach umbrellas lined up as far as the eye could see. On the sea side of the posts, there was nothing but sand.

We spoke with one of the people setting up chairs for the day. He explained that he is part of a group that patrol and monitor the beach. Underneath the sand all along the beach are hundreds and thousands of loggerhead turtle eggs. Our friendly beach guide further explained that the beach is patrolled 24 hours a day. He normally does one full night's watch per week.


Our next stop was ancient Kaunos. When Kaunos was founded in the 9th century it was located on the Mediterranean Sea. Today Kaunos is a few kilometres from the sea, but it is still located on the Dalyan River. We arrived by boat, walked along a narrow pathway, then entered the site. It was only midmorning, but the heat was stifling as the hot sun was reflected off the grey stones. We did a quick tour of the site, admiring the theatre, buildings, and views, finding it too hot to stay for long.

Turtle in the River

Back in the tour boat our captain headed us further up the river. Around 11:30 we came to the town of Dalyan. We stopped at a river side restaurant recommended by our captain. We had just finished ordering lunch when one of the waiters waved us to the edge of the river. Looking down into the river we could see a loggerhead turtle. We could just make out its shell and flippers as it lay on the bottom seemingly contented.

Dalyan Town
Dalyan Town Mosque and Turtle Statue

After lunch we spent a half hour exploring Dalyan itself. The town caters to tourists, especially those that want to visit Iztuzu Beach. Hundreds of tour boats ply the route between the beach and the town. Recognizing the importance of the loggerhead turtle, there is a statue of one located across from the Mosque. We did a little window shopping as we made our way back to the restaurant to rejoin our captain and his tour boat.

Lycian Rock Tombs
Lycian Rock Tombs

Across the river from Dalyan are the Lycian Rock Tombs. The tombs are carved out of the cliff itself and make a spectacular backdrop to the river. They are located high up the cliff face and there was no obvious way to get up to them. When the Lycians were buried they wanted to make sure that nothing could disturb their remains.

Jocelyn After Swimming
Jocelyn After Swimming

We continued up river once more and soon the river opened up into a large lake. Our captain threw his anchor over the side and waited until it eventually caught in the bottom. There was a light breeze blowing and all of us dove into the water to cool off. Even the Captain went swimming and he spent lots of time playing in the water with Allen. While Karalee and the kids continued to swim I climbed back onboard, found a bench seat in the shade and a pillow and had an afternoon nap. I was abruptly woken when one of the children reached up over the side and splashed me with water (no respect for their father).

Allen Driving
Allen Driving Us Home

We lazed around some more, soaked up the sunshine, and went for another swim. With the afternoon almost over we asked our captain to take us back to Dragonsinger. The tour boat doesn't go fast, but it does lumber along at a steady pace. With Allen at the helm, we headed back down river and about an hour later pulled up to the dock in Ekincik Limai where we rejoined Dragonsinger.

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