I write this post with mixed feelings about the day. I enjoyed certain parts of the trip but returned to the hotel feeling as though I’d missed out. Anyway, I’ll go through the day in order of events so that you can part experience the excursion with me and decide if it’s for you.
Waiting for pick up.
‘Windy and grey with a hint of hope by way of sunshine.’ I can only say, I’m glad it wasn’t our lazy day boat trip today.
The minibus was actually a plush looking taxi with disco lights in the roof. We were however told that when the season is in full swing, tourists will more than likely be transported in a jeep. Another couple from Erdington were already in the taxi. As they introduced themselves, their lovely accents made us feel at home. We soon discovered that only the four of us were booked on the trip. After introductions were exchanged we soon got started. Off we drove, up towards the mountains, heading towards Gökova. I stared out of the window in awe as we snaked up the road that leaves Marmaris. I’ve seen this view on many occasions but it never fails to captivate me.
Location 1 – The tree lined road in Akçapınar between Akyaka and Gökova.
Love messages carved in the trees.
Apparently this was once the main road into Marmaris. We were told by our guide that couples who have just got married come to this road because of its stunning beauty, to have their wedding photos taken. On closer inspection, I discovered that the marks on the trees were love graffiti. Each message being an individual declaration of love, carved into one of the mile long stretch of eucalyptus tree barks. We took a few photos and soon continued with our journey into the village of Akçapınar.
Location 2 – Akçapınar village – Café Akçapınar Tostcuso.
After driving for a couple of minutes, we pulled up beside a small café for a cup of apple tea.
This café seems to double up as a bit of a farm shop. It is in fact a self caterers dream. Fresh eggs, bagged grains and a huge selection of honey and preserves were available to purchase.
This friendly little café was almost full and they do amazing cheese toasties.
Location 3 – Akyaka Rock Tombs.
As we were driven around the roads, we passed some farmland on the right before pulling up next to the rock tombs.
The larger tombs were the burial places of the rich through the Hellenistic Period. We spent about fifteen minutes walking around the main tomb and looking at the smaller tombs. There are about 4 in total.
Location 4 – the Azmak River Boat Cruise.
This stop is, in my opinion, the best part of the trip.
Akyaka is a small town full of cafés, restaurants, pide and çorba cafés, and gift shops. It also has a beautiful stretch of sandy beach.
The cafés we walked past were occupied with interesting characters that I’d love to have shared a coffee or an ice cream with. I was looking forward to exploring the village after the cruise. On a previous visit, I remember there being a lovely café just past the forest campsite that sits on the sea. In the past, my husband and I have watched the fish jumping in the water from this café. But first, we are doing the cruise.
As we approached the marina, market traders were setting up alongside the river. Skippers prepared their boats for whatever daily activities they had planned.
We then stepped onto a small boat, the same as the boats used as taxi boats. The boat meandered down the river, passing several beautiful riverside restaurants. Ducks and geese swam along the river and it was lovely to see them with their young.
The water was amazingly clear. We saw red and green plants at the bottom of the river with crystal clarity. Fish swam by, some quite large too.
The mountains ahead were an impressive sight, showing exactly how enormous they are and how insignificant we are.
At this point we spotted two people from our hotel who had made the journey to Akyaka by bus. They waved and the boat moored up, then they joined us for the rest of the trip. After a short stop and the offer of a swim, which we all declined as the river was freezing, we headed back to the marina. The cruise lasted for a disappointing 30 minutes. I say disappointing as this was the main feature of the day and it seemed to be over in a jiffy.
Now this is where my mixed feelings about the trip began. We were ushered back through the village and taken back to the taxi. This is where we discovered that we were now leaving Akyaka after such a brief visit! That 45 minutes spelt the end of Akyaka, leaving no time to explore the beach, the cafés, and the village itself. Considering this is sold as an Akyaka tour, we felt short changed as we left. This is where I declare that we’d have had a better time if we’d caught the bus and explored at our leisure. We saw nothing of Akyaka village on this trip. Anyway, here’s hoping for something to cheer up the mood. Moving swiftly onto location five.
Location 5 – Pool Garden – Havuzlu Bahçe.
We then left Akyaka and were driven back towards Marmaris for about fifteen minutes. We soon arrived at our lunch spot, Havuzlu Bahçe, which is a pool garden.
This is a free to visit park, you just have to purchase their food and drinks. It is at this point I conclude that this trip is mostly suited to people with families as this place is a mini water park with lots to entertain young children and teens alike.
There are a few animals such as cockerels, peacocks and rabbits. If you are prepared to take a trek over a couple of fields, there are horses too. Be aware that the horses, although small, do kick and bite.
Young children may enjoy searching for the smaller creatures such as frogs and crabs.
Lunch was included in the trip price but not drinks. We all had to choose a Turkish pancake from the menu. I chose cheese and potato. Who doesn’t like a bit of cheese and potato? Yummy, the pancake was good. It came with a side of mixed salad too. This basically was the end of the trip.
There was one more stop after this, but if you have the chance, I suggest you try and get it to end at this point. There are more mixed feelings to come …..
Location 6 – Somewhere to have a cold apple juice and free ice?
It wasn’t free ice, it was eyes. How could I have misheard so badly? Ice, eyes, ice, eyes ….
All six of us were uncomfortably ushered into a gold shop in Marmaris. They always say that there’s no such thing as a free dinner or free apple juice in this case. Wise words. We were immediately given cheap necklaces with a Turkish eye attached to them and then the persuasion to upgrade to a £160 gold necklace began. Being fairly blunt, I wasted no time in telling them that there was no chance of them selling me anything. We paid for a trip, not to be someone’s sales opportunity! I was a tad disappointed at this point. I was hot, annoyed and fed up. The jeweller had also placed a necklace on one of our other trip companions, it was too tight and she looked a little flustered. It was an uncomfortable thirty minutes, thirty minutes I’d like to have spent in Akyaka exploring. Location 6 is exactly why I wouldn’t personally do this trip ever again.
I had a couple of awe moments but as for seeing Akyaka, blink and you miss it. I realise that this entire article only contains my opinions and feelings. By all means it wasn’t expensive at £22 per person. We left at about 9:30 and retuned about 16:00, but most of this time was spent travelling or sitting in the pool park. Like I mentioned earlier, this might be a brilliant trip for people with little children, until you get to the gold shop of course.
When we booked this trip through an Içmeler booking office, a trip to a Turkish delight factory was mentioned but the guide had no idea about this on the day. I wasn’t too disappointed but given the choice of receiving the hard sell on Turkish Delight or gold, I know which I’d prefer. A few sweets might not have gone amiss at the end of the day.
I hope this helps you in deciding whether this excursion is for you, but for us, next time, we’ll get the bus and pay for a river trip when we get there. As Del Boy says, ‘you know it makes sense.’
Photos and article copyright of Carla Kovach and Nigel Buckley – 2016.
If you enjoy a holiday crime thriller set in Turkey, check out: