Ancient myths, ancient ruins
Trip Start Sep 29, 2010
124Trip End Nov 30, 2011
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Where I stayed
Nowadays Olympos is perhaps best-known for its 'hippy vibe’ and ‘treehouse’ accommodation - which is really nothing more than rustic cabins constructed from logs, rather than anything built off the ground like the kind of treehouses that you and I would imagine. Arriving in Olympos to drop our other passengers off, Kerry and I were quite happy that we’d chosen to stay elsewhere – Olympos appeared to be nothing more than a narrow gravel road of pensions and guesthouses
With all of our bags there was no way that we were ever going to be able to walk the 10-15 minutes along the beach to Cirali as other backpackers normally would. It meant we had to negotiate with our driver to take us the 10km or so back out of Olympos and over the hills to the neighbouring village of Cirali by road.
Admittedly Cirali was overrun with pensions and guesthouses almost as much as Olympos was, but it managed to hide them a little better - they didn’t line both sides of the street all the way into town as they seemed to in Olympos. After being dropped at our hotel, we checked in and spent the rest of the afternoon lounging by the pool, enjoying the warm Turkish sun.
Given that we would only be in Cirali one night we had intentions of going to see the eternal flames of the Chimera that evening. However, the hotel had done a trip to the Chimera the previous night, and as a result wasn’t planning to do another that evening. It didn’t bother us that the hotel wasn’t planning on operating a shuttle up to the Chimera - we would just have to walk or take bicycles and go by ourselves. However, because we were only going to be there one night, the hotel kindly asked around among the other guests to see if anyone else wanted to go. Fortunately there was another couple that wanted to visit the Chimera as well, so the hotel agreed to run its shuttle for us.
The Chimera wasn’t supposed to be particularly far – certainly within walking distance given everything that we had seen and read
It was roughly a 20 minute climb up from the car park to the Chimera. With the northern summer being high season on the Turkish south coast, there were plenty of people going up and down. It wasn’t necessarily an easy climb, especially in the dark - it was essential that we both had torches. As we approached a clearing we could see a number of small flames burning brightly against the darkness of the night - it was like there was a dozen or so small campfires scattered across the rocky hillside.
The Chimera is essentially a series of eternal flames fed by permanent gases venting up through the Earth’s crust, spread over an area not much bigger than half a football field. It is given the name Chimera in reference to an ancient Lycian tale about a monster which lived on Mt Olympos, whose head is a lion, body is a goat, tail is a snake’s, and who scatters flames from its mouth
When we arrived it was still relatively busy with young families and tourists, so Kerry and I walked to the top of the hill where it was slightly quieter, to take some photos, before working our way back down among the flaming vents. The Chimera was an interesting sight – people trying to brew tea over the open flames included – and well worth visiting, but we did find it difficult to get good photos with the massive contrast between the bright light glowing from the vents, and the surrounding darkness. After about 45 minutes wandering around the area and taking in this amazing natural phenomenon, it was time for us to climb back down the hill to our waiting shuttle, and head back to the hotel.
Wednesday morning we checked out of our hotel and headed down to the beach. It was yet another gorgeous clear day, and incredibly hot under the bright Turkish sun. Walking back along the beach towards Olympos we couldn’t help but think that the beaches here had nothing on the beautiful beaches we’d seen around Oludeniz. As we approached Olympos we could see remnants of ancient city perched high on the cliffs above the beach.
The ruins are surprisingly sat no more than 100m back from the edge of the sea. It was interesting to walk through the mix of church structures, tombs with the occasional intact sarcophagus, and various other buildings. Unfortunately, without a guide and with only limited information available, it was more a case of looking at the different structures - or ruins as the case maybe - than learning a great deal about the history of Olympos itself
After a little over an hour wandering among the overgrown ruins, we headed back along the beach to Cirali. We spent a few minutes checking out the handful of shops that made up the village centre, before heading back to our hotel to wait for our transfer to take us to the airport at Antalya. After the problems we had with our transfer not turning up on time when we arrived in Dalaman, thankfully we had no such issues this time, with our transfer arriving 15 mins early to collect us.
Our next stop will be the final stop on our trip round the world – Istanbul, where the continents and cultures of Europe and Asia meet.