Through the river to the canyon

Not far from the Turkish city of Fethiye, is Saklikent Gorge. It is definitely worth the trip to see it if you are nearby… and don’t be afraid to explore.

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Saklikent Gorge, Turkey

Crashing through the water, fighting the strong current of the river, I hold on tight to my bag.

My shoes are soaking, my shorts are getting wetter by the second and the chill in my legs is creeping up to a point where it could become very uncomfortable. But this is an unavoidable discomfort.

My path is blocked by the streaming waters and the only way through is to walk – or scramble, really – over the rocks through the river.

Saklikent Gorge Canyon near Fethiye, Turkey

I’m at Saklikent Gorge, a natural beauty about 50 kilometres from the Turkish city of Fethiye.

I had jumped on one of the minibuses that serve as public transportation in the area and an hour later arrived at what turned out to be a very popular spot for families on a hot summer Saturday afternoon.

Saklikent Gorge Canyon near Fethiye, Turkey

After paying the entrance fee, I had walked along a narrow pathway along the side of the canyon to a beach area. This is where the hard decision had to be made.

Do you stop here and enjoy what is visible… or do you push through the freezing waters?

I had contemplated just stopping, to be honest. More out of laziness than anything else.

I didn’t realise what was beyond, I thought I could see it all from here, that the effort and discomfort of ending up with wet clothes would not be worth the return.

I turned out to be wrong. Oh, so wrong.

Saklikent Gorge Canyon near Fethiye, Turkey
Saklikent Gorge Canyon near Fethiye, Turkey

Saklikent Gorge is about 300 metres deep and stretches out for 18 kilometres. While you can’t walk the whole way along it, the path after the water trap has some of the best examples of what is on offer.

Saklikent Gorge Canyon near Fethiye, Turkey
Saklikent Gorge Canyon near Fethiye, Turkey

The water is shallow and slow-moving in these parts. At times the path is wide, sometimes it narrows to a point where you have to climb over boulders to pass.

There’s a slight chill on the ground with the sun unable to break through to the bottom – but the rays of light which do shine through a crack bring a splash of colour to the red walls.

Saklikent Gorge Canyon near Fethiye, Turkey

Some of the Turkish families seem to have been here before. They cover themselves in the mud from the ground and let it dry on their bodies.

On some of the walls, names and messages have been written in the dried mud.

Saklikent Gorge Canyon near Fethiye, Turkey
Saklikent Gorge Canyon near Fethiye, Turkey

Every turn of the path seems to reveal a slightly altered aspect of the canyon. The rocks change colour, the water interacts differently with the ground, the light shines through from another angle.

To walk through the gorge is such a pleasure.

Saklikent Gorge Canyon near Fethiye, Turkey

How could I ever have considered staying on the other side of that gushing river? These shorts and shoes will dry eventually!


You’ll find a lot of accommodation along the coast and in the blocks back towards the centre of town.


For a fun hostel that’s welcoming of all types of travellers, I would recommend Chillsteps.


You’ll often get great deals for the rooms at the lovely Infinity Exclusive City Hotel.


For something a bit special, have a look at Ece Hotel Sovalye Island just off the coast of Fethiye.


And there are some beautiful luxury hotels but I think one of the best is Yacht Classic Hotel.

24 thoughts on “Through the river to the canyon”

  1. Wow, great post. I am huge fan of places like that-gores, caves, etc,etc. I hate getting wet, thoug, but in English they say-human skin is waterproof. Right?

  2. Messages in dried mud! Now that is a clever idea, and one that doesn’t marr the landscape so much as the more traditional “carve your name into any handy surface so the world can see LOZ WOZ ERE”.

    • I’m very glad I kept going. The only reason I hesitated was because I didn’t know there was so much beyond the water. I think they should make it very clear to everyone what they could miss!

  3. My parents used to take me white water rafting as a kid in a gorge up in the mountains of North Carolina. There I learned that gorges are very pretty and as you mention the sun never seems to reach the bottom, so often very cold. I have learned that I dont like getting drenched in freezing water. I think I might be able to wade though. THat doesnt sound SO bad.

    It does look pretty though. The colors on the rocks.

    • Wading isn’t ‘too’ bad… but it leaves you wet in a shadowy canyon where you’ve got little chance of drying. That’s the biggest problem. Other than that, it’s a small price to pay to see a really beautiful part of nature.


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