Today was a beautiful blue-skied sunny day and my plan was to climb up to the rock tombs behind the cemetery. One of the caretakers that I’d been talking to at Kaunos yesterday had told me how to do it and I set out about 10 in the morning. Along the south side of the new cemetery is an overgrown path along the cemetery wall. At the end of the path is a chain link fence and a closed gate, with a sign warning people not to enter. However, as is often the case in Turkey, the door was not locked so the way was not barred. I went through the gate, pulling it closed behind me. There are two paths up the hill; I had been told to take the right-hand one. It led up a rocky, fairly steep incline, with lots of little loose stones and goat poop. I picked my way along carefully, having no intention of falling. Under trees, over stones, through gaps in the brush I went to the accompaniment of buzzing bees and bird song. Small colourful wild flowers were everywhere on the hill. Eventually I was up as high as the path would permit and above me were several beautiful, enormous rock-cut tombs. These are three dimensional temples cut right into the cliff side with façades of columns and beautiful relief decorations. Seen up this close their size is impressive and I wondered how on earth the artists were able to carve these into the cliffs – I could see no way of getting at them without scaffolding and/or ropes. They must go back at least 25 feet into the rock.
The oldest of these date from the 4th century bce and the necropolis itself is thought to have been built about 100 years later than that. There are three groups of tombs in these cliffs, all equally impressive. They appear to be orange against the grayish black stones – this is because of the iron content in the rock. After spending some time admiring the first set, I made my way across the hill to the other tombs. I was able to approach these even more closely – the path went right below them. If I’d wanted to, I could have climbed into a couple of the smaller ones. From up that high, the view over the valley and river below was gorgeous. After an hour or so I climbed back down the hill and walked down the path to the ruins of Kaunos.
I had wanted to climb up to the acropolis there and saw a path winding up the hill behind the theatre ruins. Feeling pretty sure that I was on the right track, I made it up towards the top quite far, only to be stymied by the steepness of the grade and the disappearance of the track. Goat and sheep shit was in abundance so I figured that I must have been following a goat track. Following me up the hill, assuming that I knew what I was doing, was a group of four men in Tilley hats. Perhaps not surprisingly, they turned out to be retired Canadian school teachers from Langley who had gotten there by boat. One of the men has a 45 foot sailing yacht and the four of them are making their way along the coast of Turkey for the month of April. After we chatted in the theatre while drinking some fresh squeezed orange juice, they invited me to come with them on a local boat that they’d hired for the day up the river for lunch at a waterside restaurant back in Dalyan. I enjoyed chatting with them over some very good Turkish food and a beer and left them dockside after lunch.
Back at the hotel, it was still hot and sunny so a swim was in order. After lying on the sun lounger for a bit and almost dozing off, I jumped in the pool and savoured the coldness of the water. The hotel dog Pancho was very funny; she must have been a bit concerned about me being in the water and ran back and forth along the pool deck after me as I swam from one side of the pool to the other. When I rested at the end, she bent her head down and licked my hand and pawed me as if to say “It’s too cold, get out!” Later on in the day we had a tremendous thunderstorm and torrential rains but now, two hours later and just before dinner, the sky is clear again.
See pictures here.