By Justin Mays:
Did you know that Turkey has a lakes district? In fact, Turkey is home to over 50 lakes. With the beauty of the coastal areas, the lake district is often overlooked but for nature lovers, the Turkish lakes should not be missed. Located in Southern Turkey, inland north of Antalya in the Taurus Mountain area, you will find a stunning underexplored area. These shallow tectonic lakes are a sight to behold in spring and early summer.
Fly into the cities of Isparta or Antalya to start your journey in the Turkish Lakeland region. Hire a car, navigate the local system of long-distance busses or minibuses or walk your way around the area. The weather is springtime perfection, sunny and mild. Carpets of colorful wildflowers and greenery border the shores of the blue waters and lambs and goats are found grazing throughout the countryside. Isparta is a small Turkish city known as the city of roses, while there check out the Museum of Turkish Democracy and Development honoring one of Turkey’s most prolific leaders, Suleyman Demirel. Carry on to the small village of Kuyucak famous for its lavender and buy some of the lovely lavender products offered like ice cream, teas, and perfumes. Enjoy walking the colorful purple-hued fields and taking photos.
The major lakes are: Acigol, Aksehir, Beysehir, Burdur, Egirdir and the smaller ones are: Akgol, Cavuscu, Eber, Isikli, Karamik, Karatas, Kovada, Salda, Sugle and Yarisli. Lake Egirdir is the fourth largest lake in Turkey with sandy beaches dotting its coastline and is home to two islands connected to the mainland via a causeway. The first, smaller, island is Can Ada (Life Island) and the second is Yesil Ada (Green Island) which was home to a small Greek village and still has its original stone and timber houses. Lake Salda is known as the Turkish Maldives for its pure white sand and brilliant clear turquoise water. It is one of the deepest lakes in Turkey and has many floral species endemic to the area.
Trekkers and mountain bikers will delight in following the 500-kilometer St Paul Trail. This 27-day route follows a well-marked footpath from Perge to Yalvac, just northeast of Lake Egirdir. This western route is more historically accurate and follows original roads and aqueducts. There is another eastern route that starts at Beskonak, the entry of the Koprulu Kanyon National Park that follows ancient Roman roads, forest paths, and trails that mountain bikers can use. Less famous than the Lycian Trail, it is also wilder, starting at sea level and climbing up to 2200 meters. This path follows St Paul’s first journey through Asia Minor and offers its explorers the chance to observe rural life in Turkey. Those who choose this experience will find accommodation in village houses, small pensions or can camp out.
Slow down to enjoy village life and have a tea in the town squares of the villages you pass through while looking for historical sites. The hilltop ancient city Sagalassos will astonish visitors. Human settlement in the area goes back to 8000 BC and when Alexander the Great conquered the city in 330 BC it was one of the wealthiest cities of Pisidia.
Meander through the other ancient ruins in the area like Kremna, Panemoteikhos, Seleukeia, Adada, and more. The area is also home to many small historical wooden mosques with colorfully painted interiors.
The Turkish Lake District is worth a visit, and we envision more and more interest in the area. One should take their time to explore this region and soak in its beauty and be ready to engage with locals and relax with the nature surrounding them.