Turkish Delights in June

Turkish Delights in June

Turkey and kayaking weren’t words I had previously put together but when asked if I fancied a two week trip to Turkey to experience my first white water away from the UK I thought it was the perfect chance to get some sun and try to improve my boating. Six months later I found myself touching down in Dalaman airport with my trusty inazone in tow. Team Turkey consisted of myself, Bob (our token open boater), Frankie (Chris Smith), Matt W, Jamie, Miguel, Grandad, Beast, Donna and Nicola. It was at this point that I realised I was going to be easily the weakest, and only girl, paddler and that everyone else had monster sized Pyranha Burns or creek boats, leaving the lingering question of was I out of my depth?

The scenery in Turkey was fantastic, big mountains with deep canyons containing spring or dam release crystal clear waters, all of the rivers were pool drop in nature allowing some breathing space between rapids, giving plenty of time for the lads to put me back in my boat after one of my numerous swims.

Fantastic scenery - gorges of Turkey

Fantastic scenery - gorges of Turkey

The Dalaman river was the start and finish for the trip being run on several days as the rafting company we arranged our trip through was based on it. The lower section was dam fed and graded 3+, although I could have sworn it was harder, it wound its way through a canyon which started by a village called Narli and ended by a Roman bridge. The Dalaman upper section was a grade higher so I left it to the men to paddle as continuous grade 4+ sounded a little bit out of my league; from all accounts it was good fun section to paddle.

The end of the rapid on the Dalaman that claimed most of my swims and where I first tried to roll.

The end of the rapid on the Dalaman that claimed most of my swims and where I first tried to roll.Grandad on the upper Dalaman

We then moved onto my second favourite river of the trip, the Köprülu, at grade 2+ to 3 it was commercially rafted but being large volume there was plenty of space for everyone, unlike the Tryweryn… The river provided plenty of long wave trains which gave me lots of chances to practice my roll on, Chris the opportunity to capsize two girls on a raft while trying to surf a wave and all the lads the chance to ogle Russian girls rafting in thong bikinis.

Miguel on the Köprülu

Miguel on the Köprülu

Beast playing on the Köprülu

Beast playing on the Köprülu

The Manavgat river was the dark horse of the trip, the guidebook was confusing reading and the get in hard to find; even the locals were unsure about which section of the river was which. Knowing that one section of it was up to grade 5 with a must make portage and the whole of it was running through a deep gorge I decided to have another rest day and leave the river for the men. Nearly eight hours later as they arrived back at the get out in the dark I was very glad I gave it a miss. The section started out at low volume, requiring a fair amount of portaging but suddenly lots of springs entered from the canyon walls and the roller coaster ride began. At one point the whole river disappeared below ground but there were still plenty of rapids to keep everyone interested and to a cause a few swims including Matt (his first for a few years).

Chris on the Manavgat

Chris on the Manavgat

Manavgat, so glad I didn’t do it!

Manavgat, so glad I didn’t do it!

The last new river of the trip was the Alara which ran alongside the road and was my favourite river of the trip. Again this river ran into a canyon which at one point narrowed down considerably, causing Miguel to swim when his paddles were ripped from his hand as he blind probed it over a drop into a boily mass of water. According to him, he could see the bottom so reckoned it was good to run, apparently that’s the Portuguese style of boating. Common sense prevailed as the rest of us decided this was probably the drop the, up to this point, rather inaccurate guidebook has recommended portaging! I finally managed to get the hang of boofing drops on the Alara. The same section of the Alara was paddled a couple of times as a section further downstream we were originally planning on doing proved too tough a task for our minibus to get to.

Alara

AlaraThe Alara from the road

Due to the distance between the rivers we also had the chance to sightsee, sunbathe, or swim in the rivers. We also experienced a real Hamam where we were pummeled and scrubbed by semi-naked strangers, ate lots of kebabs and köfte, which are miles better than the ones you have after a few pints in the pub, and drank the local natural yoghurt based drink ‘ayran’, Turkish tea and coffee and just generally experienced the culture; how many times has a British policeman given you a cup of tea when asking for directions? We spent most of the trip outside the usual tourist areas but found that having a local driver really helped and even in the smallest village someone would have a roof, olive field or tree house where we could stay the night for a few lira.

Castle by the Alara river

Castle by the Alara river

Tea with the police

Tea with the police

Although not crammed full with river after river, the trip was still full on, most of the rivers taking up a day to do with long shuttles to the get in. Creek boats proved to be the order of the day as the big volumes suited the rivers and also allowed a decent stash of food and drink to be carried; most of the rivers paddled included a stop for lunch. I loved every minute of it and was pleased with my first attempts at rolling on moving water, my confidence increased massively. I really want to go back next year as have unfinished business with one rapid on the Dalaman that caused a vast proportion of my twelve swims, so anyone up for paddling some new rivers with no problems of too much or too little water in plenty of sunshine?

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