The perfect combination of flowers and antiquities, the ancient land of Lycia offers perhaps the richest flora in the botanically burgeoning Taurus Mountains, the most diverse area of Turkey. We can travel from the Mediterranean Sea to snow streaked screes in a short time, experiencing an amazing cross-section of habitats and flora, from snow melt bulbs to bee orchids, showy peonies and architectural cedar trees. Add to this the fabulous historical sites with spectacularly positioned theatres and immense sarcophagi. The landscape is stunning and varied from azure sea to raw alpine slopes in the sky.
Day 1 Arrival (6 May)
Upon arrival we'll transfer to our seaside hotel in Antalya.
Day 2 Saklikent & Imecik Yaylasi
The spring season is moving on and the foothills of the Taurus Mountains will be brimming with flowers. Heading towards the ski centre on Saklikent flowery slopes will have both red Papaver lacerum and ink P. postii, both marked with a big black cross. Serpentine slopes have plenty of fragrant Muscari racemosa amidst the ivory drops of Onosma nanum. Upper slopes are crowded with Aubrieta deltoides, with similar Hesperis kotschyana on looser slopes beneath crags with pretty Pedicularis cadmea, Draba bruniifolia and the tight blue bells of Muscari bourgaei. These can also be found on rocky slopes knitted with the pale blue of Veronica caespitosa, below which grow the scarlet goblets of Tulipa armena. Flowery slopes abound, studded with both ivory and blue forms of Onosma aucherianum as the spiny domes of Onobrychis cornuta turn cerise with bloom with silvered spires of Asphodeline taurica rising among them. An interesting stony slopes has both Muscari racemosa and Fritillaria crassifolia growing together. Overnight Antalya.
Day 3 Dibek Yaylasi
This remote yayla is hidden in a corner of the Bey Daglari mountains, an area of beautiful old growth cedar forest that also harbours a large population of Paeonia mascula. With luck we'll catch them at their peak, though this can never be guaranteed. What is for sure is seeing an immense 1100-year old Cedar of Lebanon, some fabulous Cercis siliquastrum in full flower and other Taurus rarities such as Polygonatum multiflorum. Overnight Antalya.
Day 4 Termessos & Egridir
Close to Antalya, Termessos, is one of the finest historical sites in the region, still delightfully wild and untrammelled and great fun to explore. It also preserves some of the finest intact Mediterranean Basin macchie and mixed forest. Stands of Ferula tingitana line the route with the abundant bushes of pink Ptilostemon chamaepeuce, whilst growing on the ruins itself is Verbascum dumulosum, endemic to the site. Those with the energy can climb up to the 360 degree viewpoint, with Aristolochia hirta frequent along the path and spikes of sweet-smelling Muscari racemosa near the summit. However, the site itself is fascinating with a wonderfully positioned theatre, immense sarcophagi and rock carved niches. After lunch we will drive onto the huge Egirdir Lake. Overnight Egirdir.
Day 5 Kasnak forest
This wonderful place is nestled in the mountains to the north of Antalya and not only contains the rare Quercus vulcanica, as well as four other oak species including the localised Q. trojana, fine cedar forest and hopefully, good stands of Paeonia mascula in flower. The first Iris purpueopbracteata may also be coming into flower alongside Fritillaria whittallii and the lovely golden flowers of Lathyrus aureus and lilac-blue Veronica pectinata. There will be time in the afternoon to look around local hillsides near Egirdir for orchids such as Himantoglossum comperianum, Orchis purpurea and Cephalanthera epipactoides. Overnight Egirdir.
Day 6 Dedegol Dagi
An impressive ridge of mountains that is wedged between the huge lakes of Egirdir and Beysehir. Depending on the snowfall we can expect some interesintg snowmelt bulbs, including the lovely white rimmed Muscari anatolica, dense blue cones of M. armeniaca, the lovely snowdrop Galanthus elwesii, Eranthis hyemalis and Scilla bifolia. Draba bruniifolia is common on the cliffs. The lower slopes have a thriving colony of Orchis pallens. The route up is well marked, but steep and rocky in parts. Descending to Beysehir Lake past woods with Orchis mascula subsp. pinetorum, the marshes will be fringed with thousands of Leucojum aestivum. Overnight Egirdir.
Day 7 Phaselis & Adrasan
The Taurus Mountains rise up immediately from the edge of the city and further along the scenic coast is Phaselis. This ancient Lycian site was occupied by Alexander the Great in 333BCE and later by the Romans, all of them enjoying its idyllic seaside location. Botanically, it is the only known location for the lovely endemic sweet pea; Lathyrus lyicus subsp. phaselitanus. The afternoon will be spent exploring the Adrasan Peninsula, the only known location for the highly endangered orange and red Lathyrus belinensis. Roadsides will have plenty of other colour and forest edges have Gladiolus anatolicus as well as, beautifully marked Ophrys fuciflora and the stunning O. reinholdii with its prominent silvery ‘H’ on the dark purple lip. Both Anacamptis coriphorus and endemic A. sanctus grow nearby too, the former being very common.Close to the pleasant beach we will take a short walk along a section of cliff path to see the highly localised endemic Centaurea wagenitzii too. In the evening those with energy can hike up to the eternal flames of Chimera near our hotel. Overnight Cirali
Day 8 Beycik Yaylasi & Chimera
Climbing higher again the upper yayla (pasture) will be in full swing with impressive drifts of Silene cryptoneura and stands of golden Asphodeline lutea. Grassy slopes have the handsome spires of Bellevalia tauri alongside bicoloured Lathyrus digitatus. Lower slopes have Cephalanthera kurdica, Verbascum davisii and a walk into a local canyon will find the fiery drops of Onosma nydeggeri, mint-leaved Calamintha pamphylica and the rare endemic Erica sicula with pretty, waxy pink flowers. There will be a chance to look for Asphodelus breviscapus in the serpentine macchie at Cirali and in the evening those with energy can hike up to the eternal flames of Chimera. Overnight Cirali
Day 9 Ak Daglari
A fabulous alpine area waits today. With an early start we will skirt the edge of mirrored Avlan lake and on to where a dirt road takes us much higher into the interior of Ak Daglari. Depending on the season (snow fall can be variable here) we will ascend to cliffs where the lovely alpine Omphalodes luciliae has begun to flower alongside the pretty endemic Aethionema lycium. Limestone pavement above has plenty of Geranium cinereum, mingling with Aubrieta deltoides, crevices packed with Arenaria tmoleum, Lamium cariense and the chequered bells of Fritillaria whittallii. Both Muscari bourgaei and red-leaved forms of M. neglectum can be found here too. The landscape is wide and wonderful and other areas with late snow might still have Fritillaria pinardii and Anemone blanda too. In the late afternoon we’ll drive onto Cirali for a final night by the sea. Overnight Cirali
Day 10 Return flights (15 May)
Cirali is only 1.5 hours from Antalya airport and we’ll leave in good time for flights.
Extension to see more of Lycia's wonderful history:
Day 10 Myra & Simena
The rock cut tombs at Myra are the finest example one can find of this characteristic Lycian stonework. And, on the rugged Sicak Peninsula we can find some excellent example of Lycian sarcopagi set besede the azure waters. Phlomis lycica will be in full bloom alongside many colourful macchie herbs. Overnight Kalkan.
Day 11 Xanthos, Patara & Pinari
The former capital of Lycia, Xanthos (and at times Patara) has a magnificent pair of monumental sarcophagi, perched on top of immense pillars, together with a fine theatre. Nearby Patara is a large site with impressive (partially restored) features scattered over a wider area. In the afternoon we'll go up to less-visited Pinari, tucked away in the foothills of Babadag. The cliff walls are peppered with hundreds of funeral niches and the theatre has a magnificent Taurus Mountains backdrop. Overnight Kalkan.
Day 12 Return flights (17 May)
Dalaman airport is 2 hours away airport and we’ll leave in good time for flights.