They rise just north of the sprawling coastal resort of Antalya, but Turkey’s western Taurus Mountains are a sparsely populated “hard-bitten corner of the Mediterranean hinterland”, home to timeless villages and “barely explored” ancient ruins.
With few hotels in the area, tour operator The Slow Cyclist had to “improvise” in planning its week-long guided group trips, says Tim Moore in House & Garden, arranging stays in “clean and comfortable” local homes, where meals are “vivid” feasts of local produce, often served outside under cherry blossom by “three generations of the hosting family”. The result is a deep sense of immersion in the region’s life, while the cycling is great fun, with electric bikes to take the “spirit-sapping” slog out of the journey.
Known as Pisidia by the ancients, this area enjoyed “a millennium of bustle and prosperity” until the fall of Rome and a series of earthquakes dented its fortunes. Its cities were “reclaimed by nature”, and people returned to farming.
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Leaving your bike and hiking off road, you can wander “in awed silence” between temples and amphitheatres “lost in the trees”, where the forest floor is strewn with ancient pot shards. The scenery is “muscular and tirelessly strange”. Jagged, snowcapped peaks tower over valleys “stacked with bulbous grey mounds of conglomerate rock, like elephants sleeping in a heap”, and laced among them is an “arcadia of wildflowers and junipers”, and of fields and orchards fragrant with lavender, apples and almond blossom.
There are chances to swim in wild mountain rivers along the way, and particularly “magical” is a night spent in a remote valley, where the trip organisers have set up a campsite of bell tents equipped with “proper beds”, candles and Turkish rugs.
The trip costs from £3,350pp, excluding flights (theslowcyclist.com).
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