Vira Natura

Sea to Sky - Spring in Lycia, SW Turkey

8-19 May 2024
From €2,690.00 per person

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 (8 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     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 4     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 junonia may also be coming into flower alongside Fritillaria whittallii and the lovely golden flowers of Lathyrus aureus and lilac-blue Veronica pectinata. Lovely hummocks of pink Aubrieta pinardii are common and Ornithogalum nutans fringes the grassy clearings. There will be time in the afternoon to look around local hillsides near Egirdir for orchids such as Himantoglossum comperianumOrchis purpurea and Cephalanthera longifolia. Overnight Egirdir.

Day 5     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 6     Sagalassos & Phaselis

A cultural double today with first Sagalassos including its large theatre and magnificent agora complex. Moving south to Antalya, 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. 

Day 7     Adrasan & Cirali

We will start the day with a pleasant hike along a short stretch of the Lycian Way, where the lovely pale yellow flowers of Lactuca tuberosa will be open in the sunshine. 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. Overnight Cirali.

Day 8     Beycik Yaylasi & Kemer Vadisi

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. Our route loops around the back of Tahtali Dagi before descending steeply into the Kemer Valley where Lonicera etrusca will be in bloom with Cercis siliquastrum and Daphne sericea. Overnight Cirali.

Day 9     Myra, Simena & Asas Dagi

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 sarcopaguses set beside the azure waters. Phlomis grandiflora will be in full bloom, the scarce Teucrium montbretii hangs from rocks near big stands of Delphinium staphisagria. We’ll finish the day in the cool heights of Asap Dagi, where the Campanula aktascii hugs cliffs laden with blue bells and there are stands of showy Iris junonia in the cedar woods. Overnight Kalkan.


Day 10     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. Swathes of Onopordum boissierianum mingle with other thistles and hefty clumps of Delphinium staphisagria. In the afternoon we'll go up to less-visited Pinari, tucked away in the foothills of Babadag. This is a fascinating site with a large cliff walls are peppered with hundreds of funeral niches and the theatre has a magnificent Taurus Mountains backdrop. Overnight Kalkan.

Day 11     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 subsp. subcaulescens, 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, the dainty yellow bells of F, carica and lots of Anemone blanda too. The pleasant green lake Yesil Gol is surrounded by vast carpets of pink Anthemis rosea mixed with golden Trigonella. Overnight Kalkan or Antalya.

Day 12     Return flights (19 May)


8 - 19 May 2024


Per person (twin share): 2690 Euros

Deposit 500 Euros

Single Supplement 350 Euros


  • Accommodation
  • All food
  • Ground transport
  • Guide services
  • Entry fees
Not included:
  • International Flights
  • Visas
  • Travel/Medical Insurance
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • Personal expenses


*Minimum number of participants 5, maximum 12.  

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