The Istanbul Karavan Festival is a special one and if you are a nature-lover, outdoor sports enthusiast, or interested or involved in caravans, mobile homes or tiny houses on wheels, then this weekend you will want to head to Kilyos. Set in this seaside resort suburb in Istanbul’s Sarıyer district, the festival takes place on the grounds of Doğada Yaşam Okulu, which is a huge camping, caravan and outdoor recreational center situated right where the forest meets the shore of the Black Sea.
Established in 2018, Doğada Yaşam Okulu serves as caravan and camping grounds year-round and also has long-term land rental options for mobile home or tiny house owners. The property, which also offers pitched tent and caravan rental options, spans across an area of 400 square meters (4,300 square feet) that actually lines its own private beach and therefore, the mobile home parking area is referred to as the Karavan Marina, and it houses up to 45 trailers. There is also a Survivor Park area, which is set up on the forested grounds for the outdoor activities that take place in the various retreats and nature workshops held on the premises throughout the year. Meanwhile, All in Tiny is the name of the minimalist lifestyle project in which there are 34 designated plots starting at a minimum of a 120-square-meter area that is available for long-term rental to tiny house owners wanting to reside permanently on the land. Nonetheless, the site is a great location and in close proximity to the city, for anyone seeking a retreat in nature, regardless of whether you actually own your mobile home yet.
Since its foundation, Doğada Yaşam Okulu, which means school for living in nature, not only organizes their own nature retreats but also hosts the organizations of others’, which have included parent-children camping retreats, summer and winter camps for kids, corporate and adult camps as well as educational programs. Most if not all of the skilled 35-member team have volunteered with AKUT, Turkey’s Search and Rescue Association, and are certified and trained in outdoor activities and safety. The aim of this organization, and the many other outdoor-oriented organizations they work in conjunction with, is to share precious knowledge with the younger generation about being in nature to help them gain vital skills, confidence and a sense of teamwork. The campgrounds itself, which have hosted upward of 27,000 guests thus far, have a draw for any nature and outdoor sports lover at any age, as even the festival’s slogan is: “From 7 to 70!”
The Istanbul Karavan Festival is just one of the many events that take place at Doğada Yaşam Okulu, but this one is set to be the biggest and is certainly the most highly anticipated camping and mobile home festival in Turkey. While tents will not be pitched for this particular event, participants can arrive by caravan or have the option to rent one on the premises should they want to stay overnight. Otherwise, the site’s proximity to the city center makes it an easy day trip. Tickets for the three-day event are available on outdoora.com.tr. If you want to spend the whole three days of the festival, the cost is TL 450 ($30) per caravan, but there are also shorter-stay options as well as the opportunity to rent a caravan already on-site. The cost for day passes is TL 30.
What to expect:
The Istanbul Karavan Festival grounds, set up on the campgrounds’ 40 hectares, will have stands set up by caravan, tiny house and camping brand and organization representatives. There will be rock climbing walls and ziplines set up for participants to try out. There will be both daytime and evening hikes organized as well as contests on outdoor life-saving techniques. Meanwhile, these activities will all happen simultaneously with a full program of sports activities, talks and workshops.
Just some of the highlights include morning pilates followed by successive workshops in mandala-making, paracord and leather-working on the first day. On Saturday, there will be a talk by Tiny Truckhouses’ Hüseyin Kara, who in addition to building tiny houses on truck beds, is also a coffee specialist and will be giving a Coffee 101 seminar. In the evening, there will be a sunset acoustic music concert on the beach. On Sunday, the program resumes with morning pilates, leather-working, mandala and paracord making. Paracord is a type of weave used to make survival bracelets.
A little disclaimer...
Speaking with the organizers as they gear up to host hundreds, they alerted me to the fact that the particular spot where the camp is located coincides with the melding of creek and sea, which creates a dangerous undercurrent and thus, swimming from the beach the premises are located on is actually forbidden, due to the risk of danger the current poses for swimmers.