The Dalyan River runs in a southerly direction and empties into the Aegean Sea along the southern coast of Turkey near the village of Eckincek. Cruising the southern coast of Turkey, called in yacht charter the Blue Voyage, is an enchanting cruise through pristine blue waters, along a lovely coastline through the remains of many ancient cultures.
A crewed yacht charter for the Blue Voyage often starts in the towns of Marmaris or Gocek. Either starting ports are very close to the mouth of the Dalyan River. Once boarded, it is an easy cruise from either Marmaris or Gocek to the bay near Eckincek to anchor. Once in this location, be sure to put aside at least a morning or afternoon to do the Dalyan River Trip.
The mouth of the Dalyan River is a fertile delta, where, after gradually silting up over many centuries, the mouth of the river has moved south into the Aegean Sea, and is now full of fingers of shallow water through the silt and reeds. The word Dalyan, in Turkish, means fishing weir. And indeed bass, mullet and sea bream make their way up this river from the Aegean Sea to spawn in Koycegiz Lake, located further upstream. After spawning, the fish swim back down the river to the sea. The Dalyan River is actively fished, with nets strung across various parts of the river. Fresh Dalyan River fish and crabs, if in season, are prime items on the menus of many a restaurant located in the town of Dalyan alongside the river.
Across the mouth of the Dalyan River, is a long sandbar or beach. This entire area is a national conservation location for the Loggerhead Sea Turtle, as this area has long been a nesting spot for these turtles. The beach is closed during the nesting season for egg laying and the return of the many baby turtles, once hatched, across the sands and into the surf of the Aegean Sea.
The Dalyan River has been home to centuries of civilizations and their ruins can be seen alongside the river, making a trip up this river well worth the time. As the mouth of the Dalyan River is very shallow, the river trip must be made in flat bottomed river boats brightly painted, with bench seats and gay awnings.
For the Dalyan River Trip, your yacht will anchor at Eckincek. A flat bottomed river boat and guide will motor alongside your yacht for boarding for a cruise to the entrance of the river mouth. The trip begins with the spectacular beauty of pine trees lining the beaches surrounding the entrance and the river winding inland around tall reed banks. As you pass over the sandbar and into the narrow, reed-clad channels, it feels like the African Queen revisited! This image is quickly dispelled as the river opens up further on and soon the riverboat dock for the ancient city of Caunos comes into view. This is the first stop on the Dalyan River Trip. Your boat driver will dock and your guide will lead you up the path to the ruins of the ancient city of Caunos. The ancient city of Caunos once sat on a bay of the Aegean Sea, however with centuries of silting, what is left of the city now sits inland on the side of the Dalyan River, with a fertile plain stretching in front of the ruins and out to the sea.
Even people who’ve claimed little interest in piles of old rocks have emerged well and truly impressed with the sense of history that emanates from this place; the extent of the remaining ruins still creates a strong impression of the city that was once a lively and bustling seaport. The city was peopled by the Lycian, Greek and Roman cultures, which is reflected in the architecture. There are even the remains of a Romanesque church and crenellated city walls ringing the surrounding mountain tops left from a later time period. At the Caunos site, visitors can walk freely through ruins of the same buildings and streets built by these ancient civilizations. Your private guide will explain the history and ruins as you wander through the amphitheatre, the Roman Bath, Romanesque church, customs house and agora, and the Temple of Apollo.
After touring Caunos, return to your river boat to continue up the river towards the town of Dalyan. As you cruise, look to the left, and up on the hillside, the amazing Lycian cliff tombs will come into view. These complex carvings date from around 3rd & 4th centuries BC – this is now most definitely a journey into the ancient world, and one of the few places these tombs from the Lycian Civilization still exist.
The tombs are best seen from your river boat, as they are high up in the cliff side. Centuries ago, they were ransacked, so that all that remains are the incredible tomb fronts, and the wonder of how the tombs were carved and built.
Cap the trip with a stop riverside at one of the Dalyan fish restaurants, and dine on fresh caught Dalyan River fish under the Lycian tomb facades for a once in a life time experience. After eating take a quick stroll through the town of Dalyan, complete with the typical rug merchants hawking their wares. Then back to the riverboat, down the Dalyan River, out to the sea and back to your chartered yacht, to continue your Blue Voyage along the southern coast of Turkey.