Q & A on the Adventure of Canyoning near Kas

During my recent week in Kaş on the Mediterranean Sea, I was offered the opportunity to go Canyoning.  I wasn’t sure I would have the physical ability to go canyoning – plus, I still struggle with a fear of water.  (Although in hindsight, I think I could have done it!)  So instead, I offer you this interview of one of those brave enough to attack the unknown!

If after reading through this and watching the videos you wish to go, you must be patient!  The owner/manager of Xanthos will check the weather report every evening.  In fact, he will check several weather reports, and even call guys who may be in the canyon area.  If there is any chance of rain, no matter how small, the trip will be postponed a day.  We waited several days for this, but it was well worth it!

Have you done it before or anything like it?

Partially yes, partially no. I have hiked through a creek upstream and downstream, walking through the water.  I have done those things wearing regular clothes, but I was always tried to minimize the amount of time in the water and tried to stay dry.  Having a wet suit, it was easier and more fun to jump into the water and take the wet road, rather than the dry path on the side. Also, I have never been suited with a harness or hung from big cliffs.  I have had a number of friends who were into rock climbing, etc., but it did not interest me as much.  Maybe because of the strength it requires. Abseiling was a similar feeling (I guess) without the requirement of the strength.  Also, since you are equipped with safety gear that locks and hold the rope when you release your hand – “Self-braking descender for single rope” –  you feel safe even when you are looking at the 50m drop.

Were you prepared for Canyoning?  How did you prepare?

I personally only had my own water shoes that are comfortable both walking on rocks and in water.  The wet suits, harnesses and other gear were provided by the tour company.  After we jumped into the van to go to the Cyprus Canyon, the first stop was the warehouse where Xantos keeps the equipment for various activities, like canyoning, cycling, etc.  First we tried the wetsuits there to make sure that it fits properly and the crew picked out an appropriate size harness for each member of the group, and ropes and other gear.  They also have water shoes in the shop if you do not have appropriate ones with you.  When we got to the site, we dressed up with our wet suits and the harnesses and other gear were put on us and adjusted by our tour guides. Also for our water sensitive belongings, there was one waterproof backpack that we carried through the canyon in turn.

My Water Shoes

My Water Shoes


How many people joined you?  What were they like?

We were total of 9. We had 2 tour guides Özgür and Alpay (aka Alper, aka Eray, aka Alim) and 7 adventurers Uğur, Emre, Selin, me, one French person and two Germans.  Uğur was actually a diver.  Even though he lives in Izmir which offers plenty of close by diving opportunities at the Aegean Sea, he has been coming to Kaş every summer for the last five years to dive and it was his second time of Canyoning.  Emre and Selin were a newlywed couple just having their adventurous honeymoon. They said that they were going to try diving the next day. I have heard that in some previous tours, the age of the adventurers goes up to 60.  This time the age range was from low 20s to low 30s, except me.

What did you like the best?

Abseiling was the most exciting part.  We started with a small section of a 6-8 meter high rock/cliff that we abseiled and then we did the biggest cliff of the tour, 50m.  Next it was only a 25 m high cliff and we were “all kinds of disappointed” because we were ready for a bigger challenge, something over 50m high. It was not very hard or and did not require a lot of strength.  But it did make us full of adrenalin.  It was amazing.

What did you like the least?

After I abseiled down the 50 m high cliff, we waited for the rest of the group to come down.  It was little boring but we chatted with the members of groups who had made their way down and talked about our excitement of the abseiling in a peaceful green quiet place.

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Would you do it again, and if so, what would you do differently?

I definitely will, like our assistant tour guide, Alpay, who has started assisting canyoning tours this summer.  He is sixteen and he is going to a high school in Antalya.  He said that every time he attends canyoning tours, it gets more exciting and he loves it more.  He tries newer techniques of abseiling and the cliffs still give him the excitement.  I would like to practice more and learn how to abseil with different gear.  The gear we were using had a self-braking system that locks the ropes and if we release our hand from the rope, you stop going down.  It is good for the rookies like us so that our mistakes do not end up hurting us.  But after I saw how smoothly our tour guide abseiled using a different gear, it looked fun.  I want to try that.

Watch the canyoning video!

Anything else you want to add?

Overall, it was a very exciting activity.  When you think of a Mediterranean vacation a lot of people think sun, sea and beaches.  This was way different.  We had a little over an hour ride in a van.  We drove farther away from the sea into the main land.  It was a nice drive through the mountains covered with cider trees.  We were as high as 1300 m above sea level and I think we started canyoning at around 1100 m which is pretty much the same as some of the hills of Ankara.  When we got to the site, we got out of the van, got all (wet) suited up (different than what Barney of HIMYM means by “suit up”) and got basic safety instruction (always stay between two tour guides, etc.) and then started walking towards the canyon.  Instructions on abseiling were given right before we started with demonstrations.  Once we descended all the way down to water level, we had a small picnic by the water -sandwiches and some soft drinks.  Then we started walking up the canyon through the water, across rocks and the banks of the creek.  In 3 or 4 locations, the water was deep enough for us to jump into the water and that is what we did, sometimes just once, sometimes more than once.  On a couple occasions, we got to use ropes to pull us up over the big rocks to continue our route and in one location, we used the Blackdiamond nForce Ascender to climb over 6-7m tall rock.  In abseiling and rock climbing, we always had Özgür on the top setting up our gear and checking them for safety and at the bottom, Alpay was holding the ropes, keeping them tight and giving us the direction on which path to follow.

Black Diamond nForce Ascender – photo courtesy of eu.blackdiamondequipment.com

After about a 4-5 km hike, we got to the finish line where our van was waiting for us. On the drive back to Kaş, we stopped by a road side tea place to have some hot tea, play with the puppy of the owner and breathe in some fresh mountain air.  Then they dropped everyone where they wanted in the town of Kaş.

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What else can you tell us about your tour guide, Özgür, and his assistant?

Özgür has been in this business since 2004.  Before guiding various tours he was a parachute jumper/skydiver.  Until 2007, he was on the national team for 4-way formation skydiving. In other words, 4 men do various formations up in the air while skydiving.  He also does cycling tours, kayak tours and hikes. He has been with Xantos for a year. Our assistant tour guide was Alpay, but he gets called Alper, Eray (by me almost half the trip) and Alim (people must be confusing his name with the name of our tour guide in our Jeep Safari.)  Alpay is a high school student. He lives in Kaş and he has started helping canyoning tours this summer.  He was very excited about canyoning and said that every tour gets more and more exciting for him.  He is a promising canyoning guide in the near future.

View the full unedited canyoning videos on our
You Tube Channel

IF YOU ARE GOING:

Xanthos Travel
Ibrahim Serin Sokak No: 5/A
Kas, Turkey
+90 242 836 32 92
www.xanthostravel.com

WHAT TO BRING:

  • sun cream – protection
  • towel
  • swim clothes
  • Sneakers or walking shoes.  (We suggest water shoes)

Meet Xanthos:

Mehmet & Sefer

Mehmet & Sefer

This is Sefer and Mehmet.  As far as I could tell, Sefer is running the day to day operations at Xanthos.  Xanthos opens as early as 7 a.m. and closes around 1 a.m. – yes, approximately an 18 hour day.  So chances are if you stop by the office, you will meet him.

SeferWhen you stop by, don’t be put off by the fact that Sefer doesn’t seem overly friendly, the man is busy scheduling adventures, keeping track of his employees, checking weather reports, and making sure everything runs smoothly and most importantly, as he said himself, “safely.”

 

Read our other posts on Kas here:

Kayaking Kekova
Oh, the things we did!  Jeep Safari in Kas!
AIA goes on the road . . . and on the water: Our return to Kas
Video of the Day – Kas Peninsula Drive
St. Nicholas Church, Demre (Myra)

 

Kayaking Kekova

My husband and I joined the great folks from Xanthos Travel for another day on the water, sea kayaking at Kekova.  Our guide, Alkan, was super fit and super knowledgeable.

We met at the office around 7:30 a.m.  Why so early?  Well, they take their “adventures” very seriously down in Kaş.  Water traffic has increased in recent years.  So for safety reasons, the kayaks go out early in the day.

We drove in open air vehicles to the region of Kekova, about 45 minutes.  It was actually a bit chilly in the hills that morning. Upon arrival, we were fitted with life jackets, kayaks and oars.  They asked us about any physical ailments and we signed waivers.  Xanthos set us up with two-man boats.  But they have singles available, so if you are up for that, just ask.

We then gathered for paddling and safety tips.  Alkan showed us how to use our oars.  He told us he would raise his oar when he wanted us to come in close to share the history and other information.  He exlained what to do if we were having trouble and also informed us that a motor boat would be following us.  If we tired, we were to let him know and they would put us in the boat.

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Alkan and his crew set up each kayak to fit each adventurer, and then we were off.  The rowing was not too strenuous. It was a very enjoyable day with a nice breeze breaking the blazing sun.  It really didn’t feel too hot. We paddled to Kekova Island and then to Tersane Bay.  We received more information on the Sunken City and paddled over it.  We crossed over to Simena (kale Koy), the ancient village with the ruins of a castle that gives it its name.  There we had time for lunch and a swim.

We paddled back very leisurely to our beginning point, but on the way, we came across a lot of excitement.  Boats, big rocks, and a giant sea turtle!  Watch the video and you will see it swim right up to my kayak!

turtle

About Alkan Çalışkan:

Our tour guide, Alkan, was quiet but knew his stuff!  He has been in Kaş for about 23 years.  He has studied the history, but is mostly attracted to the athletic activities.  His knowledge and know-how are evident.  He’s been freelancing for 10 years as a tour guide and can be reached via his website for trekking, mountain biking, and other activities as well.

IF YOU ARE GOING:

Xanthos Travel
Ibrahim Serin Sokak No: 5/A
Kas, Turkey
+90 242 836 32 92
www.xanthostravel.com

WHAT TO BRING:

  • hat
  • sun glasses
  • sun cream – protection
  • towel
  • swim clothes
  • Sneakers or walking shoes
  • Water – but Xanthos will stop on the way to buy it if you haven’t brought it with you.

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Read our other posts on Kas here:

 

Watch the full kayaking videos and other adventure videos at YouTube.

St. Nicholas Church, Demre (Myra)

During our week in Kaş, my husband and I set out on our own sightseeing adventure.  We drove to the neighboring town of Demre, formerly known as Myra.  It was about a 45 minute drive – beautiful greenery, mountains, and sea side.  Our first stop was the Church of St. Nick, THE St. Nick, Santa Claus!!  

An ancient Byzantine Church . . .  its usage is dated between 5th-12th centuries. It is most notable for being the burial place of St. Nicholas of Myra, who was the Eastern Orthodox bishop of the ancient city of Myra in the 4th century, and is an important religious figure for Eastern Orthodox Christians.

The visit doesn’t take long, maybe an hour.  There were many Orthodox making pilgrimages while we were there.  

Outside of the Church grounds, the town of Demre was kind of desolate for a tourist attraction town.  There were many places to shop for religious items and mementos in walking distance.  But not much else.

We stopped at one of the few restaurants in town.  Priced normally, not for tourists, and with normal kebab type fare.  We were happy and satisfied.   I wish I could remember the name to give it a plug.  I do remember the name of the restaurant across the street, Gazientep.  DON’T GO THERE!  They had a board outside with a short menu and no prices.  We had stopped there first.  We asked to see a menu, so we wouldn’t get gouged.  The man in the front yelled back to a woman sitting at a table with her friends.  He asked her to bring a menu.  Her response?  “They are looking at it.”  She didn’t even bother to get up, or say it nicely.  She barely turned her head over her shoulder as she sat with her back to us.  Her restaurant was empty.  We walked away as the man called after us.  Their loss – our gain.   

You can read more about the Church and the Center by clicking here to view its website.

If you are going:

  • Just follow the signs to Demre.  It’s hard to miss.
  • Stop by the Myra Ruins as well.  (Photos coming soon).  It’s easy to do both and have lunch in about 4 hours.
  • There are no regulations as to what to wear – but it is a Church.
  • The Turkish Muze Kart is accepted.

Oh, the things we did!! Jeep Safari in Kaş

Along the road to Kaş, on that first day, we passed several Jeeps on the road.  It didn’t take long to discover they were on safari. Ha!  Safari!  I remember walking into the office of Xanthos the next day and point-blank asking one of the owners, “What kind of animals do you have in these parts?  We have a lot of cats and dogs up north in Ankara.”  Laughing out loud.

Well, it wasn’t about the animals, although we did see cats, dogs, turtles, frogs, birds, and a blue crab scattering across a restaurant floor.  The day was fun.  No, it was one of the most fun days I have had in a very long time.  Here’s how it went:

We met around 9:30 a.m. at Xanthos’ office in Kaş.  There, our tour guide, Özgür, led us to our jeep.  Along the road, we were joined by another jeep.  No one said much, not even Özgür.

Our first stop was a small gorge, just outside of town.  The road was sort of a bridge there, the gorge up on one side leading to the beach down below on the other side.

The next stop was the beach at Patara.  I had been before, so no big deal, right?  Wrong.  Özgür provided us with the most amazing description of the history of Patara. He did it in both Turkish and English.  He spoke for at least 40 minutes.  He really knew his stuff.  Fascinating.  We had time to swim at Patara and of course, enjoyed a glass of tea.

As with my other posts, I will let you research the history of the area.  This trip involved visits to four gorges; the history of the ancient Lycian city Patara; talks of the Roman period, earthquakes, the hitites from Anatolia, the first Parliament building in history, democracy, wines, the Croatian war, Alexander the Great, Babylon, the 5 King Period, the Hellenistic Period, Caesar, Brutus, Byzantine, Orthodox and a Seljuk attack.  Whew!

I will share one of his stories.  A couple of years ago, a group came to study the turtles.  About 5000 eggs are laid on the beach each year – and are very well protected.  Some of them received microchips.  Tracking showed that some of the turtles swam to Egypt and back!  That’s probably about 1000 km each way!  

After the swim, we headed back to jeeps.  Shortly thereafter, we made a pitstop “where Santa buys his toys.”  Yes, Patara is the birthplace of St. Nick.  

For some unknown reason, at least unknown at the time, our guide was pushing us to buy water guns.  The are only 5TL!! What a deal.  Secretly, I wanted one so that I could attack the two boys staying in our apartment building the next time I saw them at the pool.  Turns out there was a reason for the guns, and it was WILD!!!  Warning, it’s a long video.  With a few minutes you will catch my drift.

Three jeeps loaded with water guns.  We quickly became three opposing armies of big kids!

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Wow, that was a long video, and a long day so far.  So we stopped again.  At the ancient city of Patara, home of the world’s first Parliament building.  Here, Ozgur’s stories came alive.  And it was a chance to try eating cactus for those who were so inclined!

Did I say this was a long day?  It was 3:30 p.m. by the time we were served lunch.  We had driven to a hidden spot, along the water.  We laid back on Turkish style rugs to rest.  We sat cross-legged on pillows at low tables while we were served fish and chicken kebab.  A well-deserved rest.  

After lunch, we split into two groups.  The first group did a rafting tour (at a small extra fee) while the rest of us stayed behind and drank tea.  Once they returned we headed down a very long set of stairs.  I forget the count, but I think it was around 300 steps.  Oh well, at least it was down.  And so the best part of my day began.  The trek to Gizlikent Gorge.  The waterfalls were awesome.  The greenery, the rocks.  It was all so cool.  It was here that I took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, sans ice, but with icy cold waterfalls!! 

We had another guide for that part of the trek, Alim, a little older than the others and a former tailor.  He didn’t speak much English, but he was a lot of fun and a real gentleman – helping Abla from time to time up or down the slippery rocks!  He also very kindly offered to take this short video for us . . . 

Are you getting tired yet?  I was exhausted.  But we weren’t done.  The reason my husband wanted to join this safari was the guided tour of Saklikent Gorge  – so off we went.  Back into the jeeps we entered a much more “touristy” area of Saklikent. We had a third guide for this part of the trip.  The beginning was almost scary.  The water seemed colder than the other gorge. And it was bigger and moving.  So here we were, about 30 in total, holding hands to cross the first “pond.”  It was deep and beautiful, not green like the other.  Mammoth rocks cut through the water.  I made it through most of the gorge before I planted myself on a big rock with a few others while the group pushed ahead.  I knew we still had to make it back to the jeep – and there weren’t going to be 30 of us holding hands to cross.  I was so tired by that point that nothing scared me.  It was fabulous.

Here’s the whole day in a 6-minute video:

One would have thought they were done.  But no.  There was still the drive back to town … and a pit stop.  Both jeeps pulled over at the first crime scene, the beach between Kas and Kalkan, at the foot of a small gorge.  While many made the way down to the water for an evening swim, I stayed with the crew on the side of the road and enjoyed watermelon.

Wow!  it was a 12-hour day!!!

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MEET Özgür:

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Özgür has been with the company for 7 years, and in the industry for 9 years.  Clearly, he enjoys it.  He was a history major at university and his knowledge of history really shined.  His “likes” include the variety of international guests he takes out on adventure.  Unlike Antalya where tourists are mostly German and Bodrum where they are mostly British, Özgür has met a variety of international clients in Kas.  On this trip alone there was one American, a few French women, and several Brits mixed in with the Turks.

He also enjoys canyoning (coming soon) and body rafting.  He is training for rock climbing, perhaps trying to catch up to his cousin who is on the National team???  There is really only one thing he doesn’t like about the job and that is when someone is not on time.  Xanthos is a well-oiled machine.  With so many adventures, vehicles, and employees, they have to be organized, they have to be punctual.

The strangest thing he ever saw was on the way to Gombe.  The jeep became covered in darkness.  An eagle had actually flown above the vehicle, wings outstretched, as large as life itself.  A snake hung from its mouth.

Özgür has traveled the world to places such as Cambodia, Thailand and India.  Next up?  France, Italy and South America.

IF YOU ARE GOING:

Xanthos Travel
Ibrahim Serin Sokak No: 5/A
Kas, Turkey
+90 242 836 32 92
www.xanthostravel.com

WHAT TO BRING:

  • hat
  • sun glasses
  • sun cream – protection
  • towel
  • swim clothes
  • Sneakers or walking shoes (This one is important.  you will be charged 5TL for shoes to walk through Saklikent if you don’t have them.  If you attempt it in flip-flops, you will most likely come back barefooted!)

NOTE:  I realized after writing this that the events are out of order.  We stopped at the beach, then Patara Beach, the ancient ruins before the water fight.  We moved on to lunch, Gizlikent, Saklikent and back to the beach.

Read our other posts on Kas here: