There is a fine art to camping vacations in Turkey that is unlike the tent-pitching campfire scene that springs to mind when we think of "camping."In this country, campsites offer accommodation like tree houses, cabins and bungalows in a natural setting. Thus, "campers" in Turkey are able to still enjoy the outdoors but in a setting more comfortable than a tent, yet less luxurious than what some may envision "glamping" to be. Camping in Turkey is unique, and can be an amazing experience given that the Turks are connoisseurs of cuisine and creating a rustic-chic ambiance while the country itself offers a wide variety of experiences for a retreat in nature.
Check out these 10 amazing rustic getaway destinations:
1. Kabak Valley
Did you know that along Turkey’s Mediterranean coast lies a protected valley that has been transformed into a camper and glamper’s paradise with a half-dozen or so campsites set into the valley at varying elevations that visitors hike past on their way to the valley’s secluded beach. Not necessarily the best option for family vacationers, Kabak Valley has become a hipster and yogi paradise, and serves as a great spot to include on a hike of the Lycian Way, but its rural accommodation while pricy can be extremely basic yet will provide all of the meals and beverages you will need.
There are a variety of lodging options though, ranging from wooden bungalows, tree houses to spaces for tents. As this area has been protected from development, there are no concrete buildings, restaurants or shops and the road is quite treacherous if your vehicle is not a 4x4. It used to be that visitors would load their packs on donkeys at the top of the valley in Faralya and would then hike downwards for around 30 minutes to reach the campsites. These days, there is a minibus that takes visitors up and down the valley and it is recommended you leave your vehicle at the top of the hill in Faralya.
Arguably the first remote camping spot to become popular in Turkey and kick off the trend of tree houses, (which are now bungalows) and beach tent accommodation for a younger urbanite crowd in Butterfly Valley, named after the over 80 different species of butterflies housed in this nature reserve. This secluded cove that has waterfalls in the depths of the valley is only accessible by boats that operate from world-renowned Ölüdeniz lagoon or via a steep hike from the top of the hill at Faralya down to the beach, which is the next cove west from Kabak Valley.
Situated in the Akçaovacık Plateau at 1,300 meters (4,265 feet) elevation on Babadağ, a mountain range overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and its picturesque coves such as Butterfly Valley and Ölüdeniz, Babakamp is an ideal location to camp out in nature while enjoying the fresh air, endemic flora and spectacular views and is just 25 kilometers (15.53 miles) from Fethiye. Regular hosts of yoga and wellness retreats, Babakamp has both an indoor yoga studio as well as an outdoor calisthenics workout area as well as an ecological saltwater pool and serves as an ideal base for paragliding, which this particular mountain is popular for.
Visitors can fly through the sky to land on the Ölüdeniz lagoon or drive there as it is less than 13 kilometers from the camp grounds by car. The Skywalk Fethiye Cable Car will also soon be in operation, which will take passengers from Ölüdeniz to the top of Babadağ, which is located at nearly 1,700 meters elevation. While serving as an ideal base for paragliders and nature-lovers, the true draw of Babakamp is their unparalleled observation deck that offers breathtakingly unforgettable views where one literally feels like they are sitting on top of the world. Babakamp offers a variety of accommodation options ranging from stone bungalows and wooden cabins to campgrounds where guests can pitch their own tent or park their caravan.
Yet another adventure-seeking spot for a younger crowd discovering what life is like on the wild side is Olimpos, an enigmatic destination that is outfitted with tree houses as accommodation, has a path to the beach that winds through ancient ruins and at night and everlasting flames like pockets of bonfires light up Mount Chimera, which is accessed via flat-bed tractors in the dead of the night. Staying in Olimpos, which is located halfway between the Mediterranean coastal cities of Fethiye and Antalya, is truly an experience like none other and has a strong draw for anyone at any age, however for those looking for a more refined and remote experience, I recommend staying at Çıralı. Otherwise, Olimpos has single-handedly perfected the art of tree houses as hotel rooms and there are at least a dozen venues to stay in at either location.
Boasting the largest crag in Turkey at 4 kilometers (2.48 miles) long, Geyikbayırı is Turkey’s rock-climbing haven and a handful of campsite accommodations have become skilled at servicing this adventure-seeking crowd. For the layman, the area features spectacular mountains, ancient ruins, spectacular fauna, a lake and a river, and is approximately half an hour's drive from Antalya’s city center and beaches.
There are half a dozen bungalow and tent camping lodging options, which include JoSiTo, The Land and Flying Goat Camp & Hostel to name a few.
Spread out on platforms that rise from the sea, Kaş Kamping is one of the most popular campgrounds in the county. Located just a short stroll from the center of Kaş, which is a beloved seaside town on the Mediterranean on the western end of Antalya province and right on the beach, this particular campground is one of the most comfortable in terms of swimming, dining out and checking out antique ruins of Antiphellos. Accommodation options include bungalows, tent-pitching grounds and a caravan parking lot.
For its proximity to holiday hot spots Datça and Marmaris, Bördübet is a surprisingly remote haven for a peaceful vacation. Club Amazon is an ideal location to experience a variety of activities immersed in nature, the Guardian even mentioned it in an article on the best beach holidays in Europe, describing it as “A remarkable campsite in deep, wild forest far removed from all jarring traces of modern development.”
The campground is located on a creek that leads to the sea thus canoeing is a popular pastime for visitors, as is hiking in the forest, taking boat trips, swimming in the forest pool and enjoying outdoor movie nights. There are a variety of accommodation options ranging from comfortable stone rooms to mini bungalows and a series of creative caravan-type structures equipped with skylights, such as their “gypsy” and “glamper” cars.
The only drawback, which could also be seen as an advantage, is that access to Club Amazon is via a 13 km rocky road that those with fancy (and low) cars may want to avoid. However, guests can always contact Club Amazon for alternative options and in the end; this is why this particular spot has remained relatively undiscovered by the masses.
For yet another truly unique camping experience, head to Yeşilvadi Doğa Park a natural park and camping site situated on the Yanıklar creek, which also happens to be less than 15 km from Fethiye and less than seven kilometers to Karaot beach.
The reason why this particular campsite is special is that accommodation is offered in tents that are pitched on platforms that are elevated by nearly three meters above the creek itself or swing suspended in the air by ropes tied to trees. Certainly not for the faint-hearted or comfort-seekers, amenities are admittedly scarce, Access to the tents are trying, but it is an experience unlike any other and the creek is extremely peaceful and enjoyable to canoe on.
Located inland in the western Black Sea region, Yenice Forests in the province of Karabük is a unique region that has a wide diversity of flora and fauna and is a great location for canyoning, hiking and biking. Memorial trees hide a vibrant wildlife that includes foxes, hares and even bears. Strictly a nature lover’s destination and conducive for the true camper who just wants to pitch a tent in the woods, the neighboring Şeker Canyon offers an operational campsite, while the village of Incebacaklar even has boutique hotel options.
If hanging from the sky is your thing, then check out the communal hammock at Nefesköy, which is a relaxing retreat bungalow and tent camping retreat located in northwestern Izmit’s Yuvacık, which is just an approximately two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Istanbul. Newer on the scene and certainly more exclusive, Nefesköy, which translates into “breath village” will quite literally take your breath away.
The notion that in just a couple of hours, one can escape into the forested mountains and be completely immersed in nature equipped with a dam, creeks, waterfalls, platform restaurants and mountain swings makes this spot one of the most exciting prospects for a relaxing getaway.