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Tourism: Exploring the ecological wonders of the world (V)

By Ojugbele Omotunde

Turkey is known for its varied culture, deep history, and stunning scenery. It is a country that borders both Europe and Asia.

Turkey is becoming more and more popular as an ecotourism destination, beyond its historic sites and vibrant bazaars, it offers a wide range of environmentally friendly travel options that not only preserve the country’s rich natural and cultural heritage but also deliver tourists an unforgettable experience, which is in line with the growing trend of eco-aware travel.

Some eco friendly Turkish destinations includes:

1. Yenice Forests, Karabuk
Yenice Forests, situated in the Black Sea region, are renowned for their untouched beauty and tranquility as they offer a serene escape from daily life, with towering trees creating a lush canopy and a crisp, invigorating air perfect for a peaceful stroll or adventurous hike. The Forests are a thriving ecosystem with a diverse range of flora and fauna, including wildflowers, medicinal plants, and rare tree species, as well as a diverse array of bird species like woodpeckers, owls, and eagles.

Yenice Forests’ highlight is Lake Hasanerdiren, surrounded by lush greenery, offering a serene oasis for boat rides or picnics, reflecting the surrounding trees and sky.

2. Duden Waterfalls, Antalya
Antalya’s Duden Waterfalls are a must-see attraction, divided into Upper and Lower sections. The lower falls are easily accessible, just a 15-minute walk from the city center. The waterfall is a mesmerizing sight with mist and foam, creating a rainbow. There’s a viewing platform for photos and a serene area for a slow walk on a sunny day. During summer, boat trips around the falls are also available.

3. Uzungöl, Near Trabzon
Uzungöl, a hidden gem in Trabzon, Turkey, offers a tranquil escape from everyday life. Surrounded by majestic mountains and a sparkling lake, this small village is a haven for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat.

Upon arrival, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding landscape. One highlight is exploring the dense forests surrounding the village, leading to stunning viewpoints and hidden waterfalls.

4. Babadağ Mountain, Oludeniz, Fethiye
The size of Babadağ Mountain is striking as it stands at 1,969 meters and is known as “Father Mountain” in Turkish, attracting many travelers for its paragliding opportunities.

Babadağ Mountain offers paragliding adventures with professional instructors, offering panoramic views of Fethiye Bay, coastline, and Mediterranean Sea. The mountain also features hiking trails showcasing the area’s beauty and breathtaking panoramic views from high up.

5. Ağrı Dağı (Mount Ararat) National Park
Mount Ararat, Turkey’s highest peak, is also a biblical site and the resting place of Noah’s Ark. Located in the east, the park offers diverse flora and fauna, including rare species like the Armenian mouflon, Caucasian lynx, and Anatolian leopard.

Mount Ararat is a dream for mountaineers, offering an unparalleled experience with its stunning snow-capped peaks and high skill level.

6. Dilek Peninsula – Büyük Menderes Delta National Park
The Dilek Peninsula – Büyük Menderes Delta National Park, also known as “Milli Park” in Turkish, covers 28,000 hectares and showcases the diverse flora and fauna of Turkey’s Aegean region. It features fragrant hills, turquoise waters, and golden sandy beaches, offering stunning panoramic views.

The Büyük Menderes Delta, located within the national park, is a must-see for birdwatchers, offering over 250 bird species, including flamingos, herons, and pelicans. Visitors can also spot over 804 plant species, including rare and endemic ones like Turkish pine and lavender fields, and enjoy their fragrance.

7. Ayder Plateau, Rize
Ayder Plateau, located in Turkey’s Rize province, offers stunning views of lush green valleys, cascading waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks. The region is known for its natural hot springs with healing properties, as well as thermal baths, providing a relaxing environment for relaxation and rejuvenation. The region also boasts a rich history and cultural heritage.

Ayder Plateau offers stunning hiking trails through lush forests, meadows, and charming villages, and is a popular destination for adrenaline-inducing activities like paragliding, mountain biking, and horseback riding, making it an ideal destination for travelers.

8. Patara Beach, Antalya Province
Patara Beach, located on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, is a hidden gem known for its beautiful landscape of golden sands and translucent waters. It spans over 18 kilometers and is part of the Patara-Kaş Protected Area, which includes endangered species. Environmental conservation efforts have preserved the natural habitat, making it a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. Patara Beach also holds historical significance as a thriving port city during the Lycian period, with remnants of its past, including the famous Patara Ruins, still accessible today.

The beach offers thrilling activities like parasailing and horseback riding, making it a popular spot for windsurfers. It’s also home to loggerhead turtles, who nest there, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts to protect their fragile habitats.

9. Kaçkar Mountains National Park
Kackar National Park, located in the Eastern Black Sea region, offers stunning landscapes, biodiversity, and tranquility. With over 50,000 hectares, it’s an ideal escape for outdoor adventure lovers. The park features emerald-green valleys, wildflowers, cascading rivers, and rugged mountain peaks. The Kackar Mountains, with an elevation of over 3,900 meters, make it a challenging paradise for hikers and mountaineers.

Explore the park’s trails, showcasing diverse ecosystems like alpine meadows and dense forests, and its flora and fauna, including over 1,800 plant species and 150 animal species, including endemic species like Caucasian salamander, grouse, brown bear, and lynx.

10. Salda Lake, Burdur Province
Salda Lake, also known as the “Turkish Maldives,” is a stunning destination with white sand and a clear blue sea. Located just a 2–3 hour drive from Marmaris and Fethiye, its unique geological formation and high magnesium concentration give it an otherworldly hue resembling a tropical paradise, making it a popular destination for travelers.

Salda Lake offers numerous outdoor activities for both adrenaline junkies and nature lovers. Activities include swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding. For adventure seekers, a hike to nearby Mount Karagöl offers a bird’s-eye view of the lake and its surroundings, leaving visitors in awe of the mesmerizing landscape below.

11. Saklıkent Gorge, Fethiye
Saklıkent Gorge in Fethiye is a natural wonder with towering cliffs that resemble the sky. The 18-kilometer narrow passage is awe-inspiring, and a small section requires paddleboarding through shallow water, requiring water shoes due to slippery rocks.

Saklıkent Gorge is a natural wonder known for its crystal-clear, ice-cold waters, originating from the Taurus Mountains. Despite the summer heat, visitors can enjoy kayaking, walking, and exploring the gorge. Cafes offer tea, coffee, and Turkish breakfasts, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts.

12. Mount Nemrut
Mount Nemrut, located in southeastern Turkey near Adiyaman, stands at 7,001 feet (2,134 meters) and is a must-see destination. Its impressive height, stunning views, and mythical and historical significance attract visitors from around the world, making it a must-see destination.

Mount Nemrut boasts massive sculptures dating back to the 1st century BC, featuring gods and rulers up to 9 meters tall. King Antiochus I Theos merged Greek and Persian traditions. It is also best to visit at sunset for panoramic views of surrounding valleys, plains, and mountains.

13. Blue Lagoon, Ölüdeniz, Fethiye
The Blue Lagoon in Ölüdeniz is a serene destination with turquoise blue waters surrounded by mountains and greenery. The clear water allows for a pristine underwater world with colorful fish. The protected bay offers a serene environment for swimming, snorkeling, or simply floating on the surface.

14. Butterfly Valley, Fethiye
Butterfly Valley, a popular summer destination in Fethiye, is a 20-minute boat trip from Ölüdeniz and despite rough waters, the stunning view of steep cliffs and turquoise waters is worth the effort.

Butterfly Valley, home to over 80 butterfly species, is a sanctuary for nature enthusiasts, hiking enthusiasts, and adventure seekers. It offers numerous hiking trails, hidden waterfalls, secret caves, and panoramic vistas, making it an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers.

15. Lake Van – The Largest Lake In Turkey
Lake Van, Turkey’s largest lake, is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers due to its clear waters and surrounding mountain ranges. Covering over 3,755 square kilometers, the lake’s origins can be traced back to millennia of volcanic activity, with Mount Ararat providing a dramatic backdrop to the picturesque scenery.

Lake Van is home to Akdamar Island, renowned for its Armenian Cathedral, the Church of the Holy Cross. The island’s intricate stone carvings and craftsmanship showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage. The ecosystem is diverse, with an abundance of fish and numerous bird species, making it a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts and birdwatchers worldwide.

16. Cappadocia – Unique Rock Formations, Fairy Chimneys & Ihlara Valley
Cappadocia’s most famous feature is the fairy chimneys, also known as hoodoos or fairy houses. These unique geological shapes, carved over millions of years by wind and water, create an otherworldly scene. Many have been hollowed out and used as human dwellings over the centuries. Visitors can explore these ancient cave homes, some dating back to the Byzantine period, and marvel at their ingenuity and craftsmanship.
The Ihlara Valley, a 14-kilometer canyon with lush greenery and dramatic cliffs, is believed to have been a refuge for early Christians, resulting in over 100 rock-cut churches and numerous frescoes that still captivate visitors today.

17. Pamukkale Hot Springs
Pamukkale, also known as “Cotton Castle,” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its stunning white mineral-rich pools, created by the flowing calcium-rich thermal waters, creating a surreal landscape.

Pamukkale, a popular tourist destination, is known for its thermal waters with mystical qualities, believed to cure ailments and rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul. The area is also rich in historical significance, with the ancient city of Hierapolis towering above the terraces, offering stunning views and a chance to explore the area.


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