Ferda and I first climbed in Kaynaklar in April 2015. We showed up during a festival weekend and stayed for a few days after to enjoy the climbing when it wasn’t so crowded. We liked Kaynaklar so much that we came back a year later, brought a few friends, and stayed 10 days.
Before our first visit, we looked around for a guidebook at the mountaineering shops in İzmir with no luck. “It’s the festival weekend. Just head up to the crags,” they said, “and you’ll find books for sale.” Festival? Yes. Books for sale? No. However, when we signed up for the festival (free), we were given t-shirts and an ice climbing guide book for Erzurum! I asked a friendly-looking guy if I could look at his guidebook and take a couple photos. Of course, he said. Turns out he’s the cousin of the guidebook author. He didn’t have any extra books, but once he got home, he sent us a copy of the book for free! Yep, that’s how things work in Turkey.
For how many days I’ve spent in Kaynaklar, I have very few photos. Camping (free) is generally in terraced olive orchards — beautiful old gnarled trees — near a small stream. Unfortunately, there’s too much trash from the weekend picnickers, and this is the main reason that we haven’t been back. There are 175 bolted routes in the guidebook I have, but I know they’ve started bolting entire new crags since that book was published. I ran into a bat in a hole on one route and an owl’s nest on another. I think they’ve tried some seasonal wildlife closures on some routes, but I’m not sure how well that’s worked.
The village of Kaynaklar is centered around a beautiful huge old sycamore. There are frequent dolmuş service to Buca and plenty of shops. It’s only a 10-15 minute walk from the camping to the village so it’s easy to resupply food and beer. There’s clean drinking water at a çeşme on the way. The climbing starts another 10-15 minute walk above the camping. It’s a fun, easy, and economical place to visit.
Back in the center of İzmir: