Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Butterfly Valley - Turkey

Faralya is a village in Lycia, Turkey.

About 15 km south of Ölüdeniz (and 30 km south of Fethiye), Faralya was known simply as the "village on the cliffs of the Butterfly Valley" (Turkish: Kelebekler Vadisi) is a valley in Fethiye district of Muğla Province, southwestern Turkey, which is home to diverse butterfly species.

Until recently, when travellers start to take a deeper look to the village. The village itself is quite a pleasant sight to see, with its houses and gardens cascading towards the cliffs of the Valley. 


The valley is situated at the foothill of Babadağ, a 1,975 m (6,480 ft)-high mountain nominated for preservation as world heritage. A wide-strip sand beach at a bay on the Turkish Riviera protrudes from the valley. In the form of a narrow canyon stretching over around 3–4 km (1.9–2.5 mi), the valley's steep walls are 350–400 m (1,150–1,310 ft) high. A trail in the valley leads to two small waterfalls dropping from 60 m (200 ft) all the year around. In the middle of the valley, a creek runs, carrying water from a spring in nearby Faralya village to the sea. A road from Ölüdeniz to Uzunyurt, which is part of the Lycian Way Ultramarathon route, runs atop the rocks around the valley.  

The valley, rich in flora and fauna, takes its name from the large number of butterfly species found here. Scientists recorded some 147 flora species belonging to 54 families and 105 butterfly species from 15 families native to the valley. The butterfly species include the Jersey tiger (Euplagia quadripunctaria rhodosensis). Butterfies of many varieties in a wide range of colors can be observed in the valley between June and September.  

Faralya is officially a quarter (Hisar Mahallesi) of the village of Uzunyurt (literally "long country"), which is made up of seperate hamlets (from north to south: Kozağaç and Kirme on the Lycian Way to Ölüdeniz, Faralya/Hisar, Kızılcakaya, and Kabak) as these hamlets don't have enough population to make them officially declared to be villages. However, almost nobody but the officials use this name and the village is always referred to by its ancient name of Faralya whether it be by the minibus signs or travel agencies. And as Faralya is (relatively speaking) the biggest one of these hamlets, when someone speaks about Uzunyurt, you may assume he/she refers to Faralya.

There are minibuses (dolmuş) to the village from Ölüdeniz, continuing on to Kabak.

A narrow and winding, but tarmac (and sectionally potholed) road connects the village to Ölüdeniz, where it joins the main highway towards Fethiye near the Blue Lagoon. Though the distance is not that huge, it takes about 30 minutes to drive this road because of the conditions.

During high season (June-August) there are boats three times a day (11AM/2PM/4PM) from Ölüdeniz to the Butterfly Valley. They cost 15 TL pp return. Keep the ticket you'll be given upon getting on the boat in Ölüdeniz, it'll be asked for when getting on the boat that will take you back at the Butterfly Valley.

Hiking from Ovacık, 2 km north of Ölüdeniz, is also an option thanks to the Lycian Way which passes through the main road of the village. Most hikers do this 16-km section in one day, however two days combined with camping a night up in the mountains is much more comfortable, especially in summer.

Hitchhiking the road between Ölüdeniz and Faralya is super-easy, at least in summer when there are lots of holiday-makers travelling with their cars.

Butterfly Valley when approaching by boat. The village of Faralya is at the far top of the canyon, invisible in this angle. 


The village and the Butterfly Valley are connected by a very steep (dropping from the village's elevation of 350 mt to sea level at canyon bottom) and somewhat dangerous path, some sections of which require a little bit of mountaneering skills. It usually takes around 45 minutes to one hour to do the entire path—climbing up of which is unusually said to be easier than climbing down—but there are some fit travellers who are reported to do it in a little more than 20 minutes. The path starts from in front of the guesthouse George House up in the village and marked with red dots all along it.