I handed my fare over to the taxi boat captain and sat down on the wooden seat bench breathing a great sigh of relief. In retrospect, my plans for that day were not complicated. I just wanted to catch the taxi boat from the beach at Olu Deniz to the well-known landmark of Butterfly Valley, a large canyon that is considered to be one of the most picturesque and amazing places in Turkey. In Turkish it is called Kelebekler Vadisi and it is a prime example of the beautiful result of Mother Nature’s work.
However to catch the small taxi boat for the scheduled departure time, I had to run the gauntlet of the larger boats that were insistent on me being their next customer instead. All explanations that I did not want to visit six islands, sunbath and swim or enjoy a tasty BBQ on-board fell on deaf ears. When the boat lads saw that their normal sale tactics were not working, they resorted to some weird and wonderful tales that if it had been my first time in Turkey, I might have believed.
According to the ticket seller called Volkan, the taxi boat to Butterfly Valley had sunk two days before. Once the ticket seller called Mustafa started talking, I just nodded in politeness but was really glad when out of the corner of my eye, I saw the taxi boat finally come sailing in.
Reaching Butterfly Valley
I hurriedly clambered upon the taxi boat and we set off to Butterfly Valley. Running the gauntlet of the ticket sellers and getting wet while climbing on the taxi boat was completely worth it as we sailed past large mountains that eventually led way to the beautiful canyon that is home to many species of butterflies.
I had already been warned not to expect to see many butterflies as it was out of season but there were a few elegantly flying around as I departed from the taxi boat and walked deeper and deeper into the canyon which reminded me of the film “Jurassic park”. My first destination within Butterfly Valley was a waterfall however I had to turn back when the climb after 900 meters proved to be more than difficult for a novice like me. Instead I headed back to the beach area for some well-deserved refreshments.
Restaurants and Refreshments
Restaurant facilities at Butterfly Valley are basic but this is what the canyon is all about. The emphasis is not on pandering to your every whim so you feel relaxed and rejuvenated. The motto is “We are one. We are all”. Think of the lost hippie generation when you visit the restaurant which is self-service and also insists that you clear your own table by taking your dishes to the designated washing up point.
Accommodation at Butterfly Valley
If you are looking for places to stay in South West Turkey that are off the beaten track, Butterfly Valley has to be on your agenda. Accommodation is basic, in fact it is a wooden hut and washing facilities are shared bathrooms further down the track into the canyon. If the wooden huts are not your idea of fun, you can rent a tent for the night or you are even invited to sleep on the beach!
Things to do at Butterfly Valley
Whether you visit Butterfly Valley just for the day or overnight the emphasis on “things to do” is all about keeping in touch with nature. Trekkers and hikers will have a field day in the canyon while photographers better free up memory space on their cameras. Swimmers and snorkelers will have a great time in the crystal blue waters or you can just chill out and sunbath on the beach. Night time is saved for BBQs and bonfire parties on the beach.
How to Get To Butterfly Valley
You can visit on one of the numerous boat trips that leave from Olu Deniz however your time will be limited. The best way is by using the official Butterfly Valley boat taxi which leaves from Olu Deniz at 11.00am and 2pm, returning from the valley at 1pm and 5pm. Cost is for 15tl for a return ticket. Note : Ignore anything told to you by ticket sellers as they are just trying to get you on their boats and will say anything to achieve it.
Will Butterfly Valley Be Ruined By Mass Tourism?
The reputation of Butterfly valley is spreading and has been since the 1970’s. It would be normal to assume that as more and more people visit, the canyon will be ruined by greedy tourism chiefs and hotel owners. However if things continue like they are doing, this destination will never fall fowl of the mass tourism mistakes so often seen in other parts of Turkey.
The organization that looks after Butterfly Valley “welcomes free spirited and adventurous travelers to enjoy this unique paradise”. The goal is to keep the valley as a sanctuary that can be enjoyed forever and they do this by promoting the slogan “living in harmony with nature”. Locals and volunteers are actively working to ensure the valley is protected from overuse and misuse. Further reading on them and Butterfly Valley can be found at http://yenikelebeklervadisi.org/(Written in Turkish and English).