When we spend time socializing with our friends here in Turkey, we talk about different topics but somehow the conversation always tilts toward travels. We share stories about places we’ve traveled to and places that are still on the list. In one of these conversations, it was suggested for us to visit Saklikent Canyon and Gizlikent Waterfall. The canyon and the waterfall are 50 km from the coastal city of Fethiye.
Saklikent meaning “hidden city” in Turkish, is 18km long and 300m deep; one of the deepest canyons in the world. The canyon and much of its natural surroundings became a national park in 1996 and has become one of Turkey’s popular tourist destinations. The cold spring water of the Bey Mountains, makes this canyon a wonderful place to visit during the hot summer days.
When we arrived at the park we weren’t sure what all we needed to bring with us, so with our water shoes on our feet, sunglasses, hat, water bottle, and camera in hand we began our journey into the canyon.
We began walking along a narrow-suspended pathway following the stream of water below and the first thing that caught our attention is the huge rock formations.
At the end of the suspended bridge is a small platform where one can purchase snacks, eat lunch at the small restaurant, or relax there and enjoy the sound of trickling water. Many visitors were seen picnicking, resting after their hike, or stopping at the platform because they did not feel comfortable walking into the canyon.
We couldn’t help but being captivated by the baby blue spring waters flowing out of the mountain as we stood on the platform.
Eager to start our trek into the canyon, we first had to cross a rocky slope with water rushing over the top.
We had to be extra careful as the rocks are a bit slippery and sometimes it is hard to determine the depth of the water. As we made it over the rocks and crossed the deepest area, we continued our walk into the canyon.
The natural formation of these massive rocks with steep slopes rich in flora and fauna and small streams of fresh spring water is truly something to see. I felt like I needed to capture one photograph after another of these magnificent boulders.
As we were hiking I noticed people smearing mud on their skin. It is believed that the mud from this area has special nutrients that enrich the skin.So, I decided to paint my face with mud as well!
Continuing our hike deeper into the canyon, we came upon more obstructions made by massive boulders requiring us to climb up to the next level within the canyon. There is a 700m difference in height between the entrance and the end of the canyon. I reached a point where I decided the climb was too dangerous and climbing back down is even more so. We ended our hike and began our walk back out of the canyon.
Walking back, I noticed several caves within the canyon. A total of 16 caves have been discovered in the rocks believed to be where prehistoric men resided.
Before departing the canyon, we took a leisurely walk around the shops lining the parking area, selling novelty gifts, jewelry, and other items.
Across the stream from the parking lot are cafés/restaurants with terrace seating over the water where one can relax with a cool drink in hand.
Leaving Saklikent National Park to Gizlikent Waterfall we spotted several roadside restaurants waving to entice us to stop in for a bite to eat. My husband loves to visit with the locals and so we picked one with a smiling face and stopped for lunch at Pembe Piknik. The restaurant; just like the many others on this stretch, was set in the traditional Turkish style with beautiful carpets and pillows and the idea is to sit on the floor to eat your meal.
This can be a challenge for a tall person like me, however, I was able to stretch out and relax, leaning against the wall with a fat pillow to support my back. It was very comfortable and was tempted to take a quick nap.
We ordered chicken kabob and lahmacun (Turkish pizza) along with ayran (yogurt drink). We enjoyed watching our food being cooked over the open fire. The food was delicious, and it certainly hit the spot!
Our next stop was at Gizlikent Waterfall which is about 5km from Saklikent Canyon. One of the most beautiful waterfalls nestled within tall trees and tropical fern flourishing from the rocks.
As we drove into the parking lot we were asked to pay 10 TL to park and the entrance fee was free. The entrance is surrounded by souvenir shops, restaurants, ice cream and snack stands.
Not knowing much about this waterfall, we followed the trail which led us to a long stairway down to the water. As we began our walk down, I notice that the air became more humid.
Before you begin this trek you will want to make sure you have on water-shoes with good grip soles. If you forgot your water shoes, they have shoes for rent for 5TL.
As we walk down the stairs you are shaded by large tall trees overhead. At the bottom of the stairs, there is a platform with a small tea shop and shoe rental stand.
Once we reach the platform, we began walking in the cold water stream while admiring the lush greenery throughout the trail.
With many tourists walking this same pathway, certain areas of the water were very murky and difficult to judge where to take your next step. The ground is uneven, and some climbing; up and down is definitely required, although such climbing is not nearly as difficult as those at Saklikent Canyon.
As we reached the end of the water stream, we looked up at a small opening at the top of the cliff where the cascading waterfall poured into this beautiful tropical space below. This hidden gem of one of mother nature’s crown jewels was quite magical to see and experience.
Many tourists were taking pictures as they stood directly under the waterfall and some stood on a stump in front of it for their photo op… Omar stood there for his!
After spending time listening to the roaring sounds of the rushing water and seeing its beauty it was time to hike back.
From the platform at the bottom of the stairs to the waterfall and back takes about two hours. I must say that climbing up the stairs after this hike was strenuous and by the time we reached the top, we determined we had a good workout for the day.
My advice is to take your time and enjoy the scenery! It is stunningly beautiful here.
Note that this terrain is not made for children and if you do take them with you, you will have to carry them most of the way. Also, I would not recommend this hike for those who are not in good physical shape or have a hard time balancing. My husband and I are in good physical shape and workout regularly and this hike was very challenging at various spots.
Other side activity offered here is ziplining for which you can register at the entrance of the waterfall. Treehouses are available to enjoy if you plan to make a longer day out of your visit.
Saklikent Canyon and Gizlikent Waterfall were great recommendations made by our friends and we have definitely enjoyed them both and I highly recommend it to you. You will be glad you did!
- Sensible submersible shoes with grip -sea shoes are ideal (though you can rent slip on jelly shoes for a small fee)
- Clothes you don’t mind getting wet (swimwear)
- Sunscreen, sunglasses, camera, water bottle, maybe some simple snacks
- Cellphone – if you plan to use your cellphone as a camera make sure you put it in a waterproof case.
- The city of Kalkan is about 30 minutes away and I recommend it for overnight stays