Bodrum's hidden treasures finally come to light. Traditional carpet weaving, jeep safari tours and delightful breakfasts tell the story of Bodrum
Far from the hustle and bustle of Bodrum's popular summertime resorts are three special villages that are not only reviving the traditional way of life in the area but are also presenting a unique experience for visitors to see the different face of Bodrum.
Bodrum, the popular summertime destination located on the Aegean Sea in Muğla province, is also home to a number of authentic villages that have maintained a more traditional, communal, slower pace and natural way of life. Three villages nestled in the hills of the Yaran Mountains have managed to preserve their traditions and offer a unique perspective into ways of protecting and sharing the wonderful qualities and values they have managed to keep alive. More and more people are discovering these special off-the-beaten path locations, which are in turn accommodating visitors in different capacities, providing a unique experience and perspective of life for locals in Aegean villages.
Çamlık, Kumköy and Etrim are three beautiful villages set in the skirts of the Yaran Mountains in thick pine forests that reside next to olive groves.
Like many Turkish villages along the coast, they are tucked away into the hills and away from sight to prevent a potential pirate raid, which was one of the main security concerns when these villages were founded.
To get to Çamlık Village, located just 12 kilometers from the center of Bodrum, take the Milas road towards the airport. The turn for Çamlık is on the right just past the Rixos and Kervansaray Hotels before you reach Güvercinlik. Seven kilometers up is Çamlık, set in the hills among a vast pine forest, from which it gets its name. In the 1600s, nomads were said to have settled here; however, there is evidence in the vicinity of much older civilizations dating back to the time of Caria. The village lies along what was once the transit route from Bodrum to İzmir, but is now a picturesque winding road that passes through a series of villages.
Life in these villages is about weaving carpets, camel wrestling, herding animals and growing crops, including tobacco and a type of orchid to produce sahlep. For the past decade, Çamlık has been a popular destination for jeep safari tours in which visitors would stop at the Zip Zip Café to attend a carpetshowing session and then a traditional village lunch.
In recent years however, this village has experienced a surge in popularity as rumors of a mega golf course opening in a neighboring village near fruition. In line with the increasing number of visitors, in recent years one of the local families opened up Kır Sofrası, a relaxing country restaurant on a grassy field with a children's playground and donkey rides that has become a popular breakfast destination located near the entrance of the village. Slightly further up the road and smack dab in the center of the village, Zip Zip Café, which also neighbors the region's most productive olive oil factory, offers traditional Turkish fare with locally sourced ingredients in a relaxed rural setting among peacocks and camels. Both locales sell carpets commissioned from local villages as well as a wide variety of village products, spanning handicrafts, soap, olive oil, honey, eggs, yogurt, herbs and vegetables.
As you continue on the road to Mumcular, the next village over is Kumköy, which houses a hideaway that offers accommodation and a spectacular Sunday brunch called The Secret, the fruition of a long-held dream of its owner, English-born expat Fiona Thomas. Set in a stunning landscape of pine forests, The Secret is a beautiful guesthouse that has three wonderful rooms for overnight stays but is most popular for its delicious Sunday brunch consisting of top-notch locally sourced ingredients and produce from the on-site vegetable garden. The Secret is also a strong supporter of village women in the workplace, and therefore their chef is a local villager. This is a wonderful way to while away the day and make your base for picturesque hikes and mushroom and herb picking, such as wild asparagus, or simply lounging by the pool with a backdrop of the peninsula.
If you continue on the road to Mumcular you will come to Etrim, one of the Halikarnassos Peninsula's oldest and most untouched villages, located just one kilometer from the peak of Syangela, an ancient Lelegian town that pre-dates the Carian era, reaching back to before fourth century B.C. Theangela, another Carian city, is located just eight kilometers away.
For 30 years now, Etrim Carpets has been involved in preserving the local weaving and natural dye techniques as well as educating people about carpets from both the region as well as greater Turkey. Etrim village is now well established as the region's most significant destination for discovering more about Turkish carpet making and offers detailed tutorials for visitors on weaving techniques, design and dyes. Engin Başol now runs the Etrim Weavers Association, which establishes a direct link with local weavers to ensure they earn what they rightfully deserve to protect and spread the region's heritage of carpet weaving. A visit to Engin's family home, which is now the showcase for beautiful carpets from all over Turkey, will most likely end in a village meal, served in the traditional style of a communal copper tray in which everyone shares a selection of plates of olive oil-based dishes while sitting on rugs. Visit Etrimvillage.com or Turkishrugsbodrum. com for more info.
While the ideal way to visit these special villages is by private car to ensure no time restrictions and a leisurely day of adventure and discovery, there are a number of jeep safari village tours, which take you through Çamlık. There are also a wide variety of tours to Etrim, which are featured on many five-star hotel websites and even on Royal Caribbean's site. Lukka Outdoor offers a cycling tour of the region.
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