Bafa Lake Nature Park
Lake Bafa or Lake Bafa Nature Park is a lake and a nature reserve situated in southwestern Turkey, part of it within the boundaries of Milas district of Muğla Province and the northern part within Aydın Province’s Söke district. The lake used to be a gulf of the Aegean Sea until the Classical period, when the sea passage was gradually closed by the alluvial mass brought by Büyük Menderes River . The gulf, and later the lake, was named Latmus in antiquity.The southern shore of the lake is traced by the highway connecting İzmir- Kuşadası-Söke to towns such as Milas and Bodrum that are situated in the south.
The northern shore of the lake, where steep slopes are covered by wild or semi-domesticated olive trees, is virtually untouched to this day. History at the innermost north-east tip of the lake is the village of Kapıkırı, as well as the ruins of Heraclea by Latmus (sometimes called Heraclea in Ionia and is generally spelt Heraclia these days), to distinguish from other ancient Greek sites named Heraclea. The mountain chain of Beşparmak (Dağları) -also named (Latmus) in antiquity- rises on the back, sheltering the non-restored ruins of a dozen monasteries dating from the Byzantine era on its slopes. Yet another monastery is situated on an islet on the lake just across the village. The village of Kapıkırı has recently developed important facilities catering to visiting tourists, although agriculture and fishing still occupies an important part in its economy.
According to the legend, it was here that the goddess Selene fell in love with the shepherd Endymion and she asked Zeus to keep the young shepherd in perpetual sleep and bore up to fifty children from her nightly encounters with the sleeping young man.
The very first time I travelled past Bafa Lake (Bafa Gölü) I felt something quite extraordinary. I felt very much drawn to this enormous lake surrounded by mountains, like a magnet pulling me towards it to explore. I was mesmerised. I just stared at it with goosebumps crawling up the back of my neck and said to myself “I have to go there.”
Since that day I have been there many times. It feels like the best place on earth to be. Other people say they feel it too. I recall sitting on the very same beach as in the photo in this post 4 years ago. I sat for around 4 hours alone, just looking at the lake with nothing but the sound of the water, the breeze and the birds. No phone, no book, nothing, not even thinking much about anything. It was the best feeling in the world. I didn’t need anyone or anything, like I was at one with the world. Even writing about it now gives me goosebumps. Whenever I get the chance to go there, I feel excited and jump at the chance.
Friends came to spend the weekend with me recently and because I had spoken about Bafa Lake so many times to my friends they wanted to experience it too. Now I had the chance to take them there. So, I rented a car, booked our village breakfast and boat trip before they arrived.
On Saturday morning after a slow drive through the village taking a few photos here and there we arrived at Karia Restaurant and Pansiyon (B&B) at 10am for breakfast. When you order the traditional Turkish village breakfast you need a very large table to put all the home made, organic delicious food on. And as there were 5 of us we needed 2 tables! Fresh home-made bread, cream, cream with honey, butter, 4 different types of cheese, 3 choices of fresh olives, cherry tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, cucumber, menemen (Turkish style scrambled egg), boiled eggs, fried eggs with sausage, cheese on toast, honey comb, home-made jams of apricot and cherry, cheese and spinach börek (pie), rocket and parsley, cherries, Turkish tea (çay) and coffee. The only problem is where to start!
We sat on the floor on cushions like the Turkish do around the low circular tables and slowly made our way through the ‘never-ending’ breakfast for 2 hours ‘till our bellies hurt. Then after a short wander around the Restaurant grounds to take photos of the lake from the top terrace and to see where our breakfast eggs came from that morning, we departed for our boat trip. We took a short-cut down a rocky lane down-hill through the middle of a field following our guide. Seven minutes later we were standing on the beach next to our motor fishing boat and excitedly we climbed aboard.
Half an hour later we arrived at a small island with a beach where we stopped to swim and sunbathe for an hour and half. We all enjoyed our swim and sunbathed and made sure to take plenty of photos and videos but sadly, the time went so fast, we could have stayed there many more hours. (In fact, I recall sleeping on the very same beach for 3 nights 4 years ago with friends. We used towels to lay on and cover ourselves for sleeping and washed in the natural spring water from the mountain spring nearby but had to climb the rocks a short way to get there. We also ate a brown, weird looking fruit hanging from the trees called keçiboynuzu (carob), other fruit and cooked fish in the sand, caught from the lake. That experience was magical to say the least, living amongst nature without even a tent or shop bought food). Just before we left, our guide surprised us with fresh figs he had picked for us while we were swimming. I was surprised to see ripe figs at the beginning of July as I had only seen ripe figs at the end of August before in İstanbul.
After our boat ride back, we took a few more photos and then relaxed on the cushions back at Karia Restaurant, drank cold water and Turkish coffee. We also had the pleasure of talking with the Restaurant owners Mum and his wife’s Mum who both make beautiful, colourful hand-embroidered head scarves to sell to tourists mainly, though, locals will also buy from them. The ladies were very happy to have their photos taken with us after we browsed and bought a couple of head scarves for keep sakes. After another hour and a half, we didn’t really want to leave but we had to so, we paid our bill and thanked the owners and our boat trip guide for such a wonderful experience we’re sure we won’t forget. Maybe I’ll end up living there one day. I think about it a lot.
What you can expect to see and do
at BAFA Lake Nature Park
at BAFA Lake Nature Park
A Carian town in the Latmos mountains: Heracleia
The Beşparmak Mountain, or Latmos, to give it its ancient name, rises steeply from the shores of Lake Bafa and is considered one of Anatolia’s most sacred mountains.
Tekerlek is the highest peak of Latmos and has since prehistoric times, served as a cult site for rain, consequently for fertility. In ancient times, the Anatolian weather god and a local mountain god were worshiped here.
Later on, Zeus and Endymion (lover of moon goddess Selene), took their place. During Pleistarchus’ era in Heracleia, a network of stone-paved roads crossing the Latmos was constructed, serving as trade routes for olives, olive oil, the famous Carian honey and wine.
Prehistoric cave paintings in Heracleia of Latmos
Recently-discovered cave paintings dating from the 5th and 6th millennium BC have added a new dimension to the history of Latmos. So far, we know of 170 such paintings. In chronological order, Latmos was controlled by the Hittites, Carians, Hellenists, Romans and Byzantines before coming under Ottoman rule at the end of the 13th century. The large number of caves in the Latmos mountains provided refuge to ‘cloisterers’ (recluses) and eremites (hermits), driven out of Sinai and Southern Arabia in the 7th century to search refuge in the Latmos mountains. Perhaps the most well-known of these was St Paul the Younger, who lived in the 10th century and whose fame spread beyond the boundaries of those countries.
Kapıkırı has a population of 330 people. The villagers mostly make their living from animal husbandry, fishing, olives and beekeeping, while some families make a living from tourism. Our region is located in the most important (from a tourism point of view) culture- and nature-rich national park. Lake Bafa is surrounded by important ancient sites. This is the perfect starting point for excursions to other major historical destinations such as:
Alinda and many others.
Words cannot describe the beauty of nature here, it is much better to show videos and pictures. Even photographs do not do justice to Lake Bafa, it is simply a must visit place to appreciate all it has to offer. After one visit you will want to come again and again.
Numerous Bird Varieties Migrate here at certain times of the year to one of Bafa Lake’s islands appropriately named Bird Island.
Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is undertaken without any ropes or harnesses so is free climbing. While it can be done without any equipment whatsoever, most climbers use climbing shoes to help secure footholds, chalk to keep their hands dry, and bouldering mats to prevent injuries from falls.
This is often used for training and practice for free solo climbing, which is also performed without ropes.
Bafa Lake is becoming increasingly popular for this sport as it has a multitude of appropriate boulders that give variety to the participants. The Bouldering activity is starting to attract visitors from around the globe to experience the natural
assets of the area while participating in their activity on the shores of Bafa Lake.
The way to find some of the secrets of the history and terrain of Bafa Lake its hinterland and the mountains that shroud it is on foot. There are some trails that vary in difficulty from a light relaxing ramble to trekking into an unexplored wilderness. There are goat tracks and trails that lead to history and villages. Also, there are semi climbs that when completed give views only attainable on foot.
The climate can affect the difficulty of some trails through more the extreme heat that prevent quick progress. There is always something of great interest on any of the trails and if you have a knowledgeable guide the history is simply mind-blowing in a backdrop of sheer beauty.
One of the best ways to explore the lake is to get on it and for the energetic Kayaking on Lake Bafa is excellent. From one side of the lake to the other can take as little as 40 minutes and then you can find hidden locations that have not seen humans for some time. The quality of the kayaking experience is further enhanced by the number of islands that are around the lake that contain both historical remains and nesting birds.
Get your own private viewing of unique sights and experience a one-off environment.
Recommended places to stay in B&B, relax, eat and drink.
BOAT TRIPS – Karia Restaurant & Rooms (B&B). Kapıkırı
SELENES PANSİYON – Hotel and restaurant – Kapıkırı
PELİKAN Restaurant – Kapıkırı
KAYA Restaurant – Kapıkırı
Autumn is a great time of natural beauty in the beautiful location on shore of Lake Bafa.
With yoga and meditation practices a healthy break in relaxing beautiful natural surroundings awaits you. Great healthy food and activities designed to complement this relaxing venue.
Be renewed, revived, to raise your energy, to get away from the city, find nature and from here you can really enjoy the amazing tranquil relaxing area.
Take a break and get away from your everyday routine! Re-connect to yourself and recharge your batteries!!
Bafa Lake is a perfect place to start or to develop into your yoga practice and balancing your energy!
Assisted by a highly experienced Yoga Instructor. This Yoga Retreat follows a specific pattern. You’ll rise early morning, meditate and breathe in the Nature, enjoy Bafa Lake and the fresh healthy clean air.
Then we will have organic brunch full of healthy local ingredients after that take a walk around the Seven Monastery and the we will return to our hotel which is set in olive trees and an abundance of flowers and local plants. Surrounding the hotel grounds is the Lake Bafa national park filled with stunning scenery and wildlife.
Yoga Activities and the trainer’s services, dinner and brunch, and the guided nature walk
But excludes the transportation to the venue
Silver Olivia Hotel is on the way and very close to the main road. You can come with the bus or your own transportation and there is ample secure parking for all vehicles.
The facilities and location are really an ideal location for yoga and complimented by delicious organic food. In two days that will really give anyone massive benefit.
Olive oil – Organically grown from the land at Bafa
Lake Bafa is one of the biggest coastal wetlands, which is located at the south-western part of Turkey. Its lagoon-like character makes it sensitive to hydro chemical changes. In October 2006, mass fish mortality occurred, and this disaster attracted public attention.
Many institutions undertook researches and made evaluations regarding their responsibilities. However, an overall systemic assessment was necessary to diagnose. Then the Ministry of Environment and Forestry initiated a comprehensive work taking geomorphology, biology, hydrochemistry into consideration together with the actual human use. At the beginning, the general opinion was that the main reason of this disaster was the heavy metal load of the lake. The findings proved that this disaster happened because of a human induced chain reaction being exaggerated by a local oxygen deficiency.
LEGENDS AND MYTHS
The Legend of Endymion
Endymion was a shepherd in the Mountains around Bafa Lake. He was a simple man that had his sheep and his shepherd’s pipe.
He watched over his horned and bearded goats hoping from rock to rock during daylight.
His shepherd’s pipe was his only friend, and company. He was telling about his feeling of freedom that came from living alone in mountains and his longing to follow who lived in crowded cities only to this shepherd’s pipe.
Endymion’s shepherd’s pipe was not only singing his joy and longings, it was also singing the voices of dark mountain tops, nature, trees and relaxing waters.
In these isolated mountains nobody was able to see Endymion blowing his pipe in daylight or sprawling on fresh grass at night. Only moonlight was seeing the manful beauty of his sturdy body.
Then the Moon Goddess Selene fell in love with him while watching him. Every night she used to lean on him with his silvery lights and when her lover was lying down on grass she used to wrap her arms around him. Whenever or wherever Selene rose, she used to find her lover, hold his body with her lights and kiss him.
But Selene used to stay with her lover longer some nights and shorter on others.
There were nights that Moon never gets together with Endymion. These nights were passing by with horrifying waits as dark as the Mountains’ tops. But these waits were not lasting long, whenever first moon appeared in the sky, Endymion and Selene were getting back together again and touching each other’s bodies that cool, firm and shiny as a fish came out of water.
At every meeting they felt like they met and kissed for the very first time. With every kiss, their bodies were getting brighter and they were becoming a divine light from top to toe. Love was the light selfsame for Endymion and Selene. Immortal gods are jealous of human being’s happiness. Because they don’t want humans to reach some kind of immortality and be the same with gods. But Zeus, the god of gods liked the endless love of Endymion and Selene. He thought to give a gift to the poor Sheppard of Beşparmak Mountains.
Make your wish, he said to Endymion; and he wished to rest in an immortal sleep.
From that day to this, the tops of Beşparmak whiten like it’s snowy with moonlight. Its great pines are resembled to humans who are sleeping and having bright dreams. The leaves shiver from a wind came from nowhere. Moonlight flows over the tops reaching the sky. Endymion’s pipe is echoed. The fires that shepherds set shine in blue and tell his longings to the rocks. It’s the same voice every time that sings the loneliness of mountains, humans and Endymion the shepherd of Beşparmak Mountains. As if sky was ripped open.
We may see the eternal happiness with our own eyes and eternal love.
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