One for the future !
Geyik Canyon (Deer Canyon)
I came across Geyik Canyon (Deer Canyon) after seeing a sign for it whilst driving to Pamukkale from Dalyan. Shortly after Köycegiz the road turns right and heads over the hills towards Denizli. Brown tourist signs for Geyik Canyon are soon seen on this road taking you towards the canyon away from the road to Denizli. Geyik Canyon is roughly 20-kilomemeter long. The canyon, which is surrounded with large and small waterfalls, has been drawing interest from nature, sportsmen and photographers in recent times. Named Geyik (deer) Canyon because it is on a transitional route deer take, and is home to many different types of plant species, wild animals, as well as many unique waterfalls. It is the only area in which mountain goats live, not the ones seen herded in Dalyan and surrounding areas. Known as a “hidden nature heaven” according to one newspaper report I researched, claiming the local government of Muğla has invested money in making the area an alternative tourist venue to the obvious seaside and historical sites mostly visited. Our visit suggests other than a car park and initial information sheets there, little else has been done on this front, which in my opinion is a good thing, commercialism always spoils areas of natural beauty if not carefully and sensitively approached.
The canyon itself is within the borders of Ula district’s Arıcılar village in the western province of Muğla. The meandering river that carries many tons of water during the snowmelt and ferocious storms of early spring has carved out a narrow section between the tall cliffs creating a gorge.
The road route from Dalyan itself has many favorable looking birding stops on the way and eventually starts to follow an enormous dried river bed (The Namnan River) probably a quarter of a kilometer wide in places and this gives you an idea of the amount of rain and snow melt water that rushes through this valley in the winter months.
We briefly stopped to make our way to the river bed which is easily accessible and still had water running through it when we went in June, Little Ringed Plover been plentiful here. Shortly before leaving this road to turn towards Geyik Canyon the road cuts through the hill side next to the riverbed and gives fantastic stopping point to photograph Crag Martins which nest just on the road side. The wind coming through the cut allowing the martins to hover motionless next to their nest sites providing a good close up opportunity for an otherwise difficult bird to get.
When you arrive at the entrance to Geyik Canyon there is a small car park on your left. There is also a small area with a hut and a couple of tables. On the table we found faded laminated information sheets comprising of photographs of the canyon, caves, plants and waterfalls, but no directions as to where you go to enter the canyon. The hut looks like at times it provides food and refreshments but when we arrived it was deserted and looked like it had not been open for some time. There is a warning sign saying ‘Do not enter the canyon without a guide’ but we guessed that this was one for groups who may be brought up there by tourist companies. There was no obvious entrance to the canyon so we chose to follow the road leading away from the car park heading into the valley. Fully equipped with spotting scopes, tripods, camera equipment, binoculars, rucksacks with water and light refreshments we set off following the road in the now 40 degrees’ centigrade heat!
With no shade on the road we turned back after fifteen minutes of walking and arrived back at the car park, no obvious birds other than goldfinch. When we approached the car park a group of four Turkish walkers accompanied by an elderly man, were walking down the road towards us. They stopped at a completely inconspicuous track leading off the road to the left shown to them by the elderly man, this was the entrance to the canyon, about 50 meters down the road from the car park, we would never have known. We asked the old man, obviously a local man, in our limited, yet functional Turkish, if this was the entrance to the canyon and he said it was, he gestured with his finger to go down the steep track, get to the bottom and follow the river track.
The track was narrow an had a steep drop on one side with no hand rails or ropes for assistance and had a ‘tunnel’ effect undergrowth cover which provided much relief from the heat. Underfoot-loose shale made for extra caution so we decided just to venture down to the riverbed level. With caution this was not over difficult and took about ten minutes or so but emphasized that a spotting scope would be useless in the canyon and binoculars and cameras are best put away during the decent. Once at the bottom a track crisscrossed the still flowing shallow river and it would require at times wading through the water so suitable footwear would be necessary.
It’s one for the future and although the canyon itself may provide limited birding it looks like it would make an interesting and enjoyable walk. Like I mentioned earlier the areas on route to the canyon and the road which continues to following the Namnan river bed before you turn off for the canyon looks like it will provide good birding spots.
The route :
From Dalyan, drive through Eskiköy and follow the road towards Köycegiz. At the D400 turn left towards Köycegiz, and follow the road past the outskirts of Köycegiz turning right shortly after crossing the River Namnan towards Karabörtlen, you will shortly see a sign for Geyik Canyon, the route then generally follows the Namnan River bed before turning off up the hills to the canyon.
I have pasted the route from a cycle app below that we used to track the journey. As can be seen the canyon car park is about 64 kilometers away from Dalyan and took about and hour and forty five minutes to reach, with some birding on the way. My Tom-tom took us on this route when Pamukkale was typed in, so a useful piece of kit if you have it.
Click on the link below for Google map.