Friday 23 January 2015

Kusadasi diaries : Jeep Safari

Earlier in the week, I told you about our trip to Ephesus when we were in Kusadasi, Turkey, last summer and I'm back to tell you about another one of our adventures - a jeep safari in the nearby national park.

The tone of the day was set early on. As the various groups/jeeps assembled in a little cafe, we grabbed some cold drinks. With his dark glasses on, Madhouse Daddy grabbed what looked like a bottle of coke and took a swig then pulled this face - it was fermented turnip juice ! One of the biggest laughs of the whole holiday !

Then, as we awaited the departure, the cheeky guide came out of nowhere with a supersoaker and delighted in drenching everyone. After a few direct hits, I whispered to the girls to go and pinch his bucket and throw it all over him which they were delighted to do and it evolved into a full on water fight. Luckily it was hot !

We jumped in the back  of the jeep (me and the kids with another couple, Mike was in the front) and headed up into the hills.

It was a distict change of scenery as we headed through pine glades and rocky outcrops. The dirt track threw up loads of dust though and we were at its mercy !

There were some fabulous views down to Kusadasi and the islands beyond.

Our first stop was as the Fire Pond. This may sound quite romantic and mysterious, straight out of Greek mythology but it's actually just a reservoir that the firemen use in case of forest fires. Juliette took advantage of the water to rinse off her dusty Crocs - that's me holding her hand to stop her falling in, not push her in, by the way !

We spotted an enormous grasshopper/cicada type thing - can you see it? It's really well camouflaged.

After posing for a few photos and making the most of the shade, we headed back to the jeeps.

The next stop was Echo Valley. The guide got all the women to line up and shout across the valley but nothing much happened. Then it was the men's turn but they didn't fare much better. The guide had a pretty impressive attempt but I bet he's been practising for years !

By this stage, we were getting very skilled at ducking to avoid the low branches and leaves but when we heard a shout of "ambush", we couldn't avoid the water pistols as we passed another jeep. Pierre was not impressed and hid under a beach towel ! So that was why we'd stopped off at the Fire Pond !

Our next stop was an abandoned monastery in the middle of nowhere.

It's called the  Kurşunlu Monastery and is believed to be a Byzantine orthodox monastery built in the 2nd century AD. It's very isolated so was ideal for Christian monks to hide away, escaping religious persecution and attacks.

We moved on to another shady wooded area for a picnic lunch, provided by the jeep company. We had cold spicy chicken, salad and watermelon.

The only problem was the swarms of wasps which had Sophie and Pierre freaking out, so they were allowed to sit in the front of the jeep. It had no windows but it seemed to keep them away !

Time to hit the road again !

We headed back down the mountain passes and dust tracks onto the tarmacked roads of civilisation again and went to the Cave of Zeus, where the king of the the gods supposedly liked to hang out with the naughty nymphs behind his wife Hera's back.

Despite the signs on the way in telling you not to swim, everybody does - Madhouse daddy dipped his toes in but some brave people went right in - and it is astonishingly cold, especially compared to the outside temperatures in the sun.

I was intrigued by this tree with bits of rag tied to it and wondered if it is supposed to be a healing talisman, requesting help from Zeus for a loved one, rather like the calvaire at Kruysbellaert that we discovered when geocaching.

Back in the jeeps for the last leg.

With the rubbish bags tied to the front of the jeeps !

We headed down to Long Beach for a welcome cold drink and a dip in the sea to get rid of all that dust.

I'm not kidding - this is what Sophie cleared out of her nose !

We'll be heading back to the Ephesia Beach Hotel in Kusadasi again this year so we'll have to look out for some more excursions to go on (even if the kids would be happy to spend all day every day in the pool !)

Chez Maximka

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