Antalya-Adam Kayalar dumbbell bicycle tour

Really? For the third time in a row I’ve left Antalya with a nice route planned only to return to the city unexpectedly early. It wasn’t covid this time — just an oddly urgent 15 minute meeting that I took care of my first morning back in Antalya. I’m going to try and leave again soon.

I managed to make it to Kral Havuzu (the king’s pool) on the first day by moving efficiently through the flats (with a tailwind) and then having an unexpectedly muddy climb to get up to the swimming hole.

IMG_20210615_124450 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210615_135327 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210615_160258 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210615_175535 by bryandkeith on flickr

I had checked the weather forecast and knew the next day was supposed to be dry so when it started sprinkling as I was leaving camp, well, I didn’t worry about it.

IMG_20210615_190111 by bryandkeith on flickr

Yikes, did it pour! I only had about 3km to get to the ancient city of Pednelissos, but it was all uphill, and there was nowhere to get out of the rain. I finally found a place to put my tent up at Pednelissos itself, and I’m glad I did ’cause it continued to rain off and on — sometimes very hard — for another hour or so. I managed to get some of my stuff pretty muddy on the first day of the tour and most of my stuff pretty wet on the second day of the tour. Well done, Bryan.

The sun came out while I visited the site, and I started to dry some of my gear.

IMG_20210616_121652 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210616_120829 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210616_122736 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210616_145029 by bryandkeith on flickr

It’s very beautiful riding from Kozan, the village near Pednelissos, to Köprülü Kanyon via Haspınar, Çetince, and Demirciler. This area isn’t so far from Antalya, but it’s not very easy to access, and it feels a little remote. I had been through here once before.

IMG_20210617_110336 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210617_111134 by bryandkeith on flickr

It was a long, steep descent to Köprülü Kanyon. I rested in the shade by the river in the afternoon, ate a fish lunch, drank some beers, and put up my tent at the free national park camping area.

IMG_20210617_122810 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210617_161253 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210618_062157 by bryandkeith on flickr

People had warned me about the hard climb to Selge. I started early and found it fairly easy with excellent pavement the whole way. It’s the 900m elevation difference that people find intimidating. The road is beautiful and reminded me of riding on the Colorado Plateau where the roads switchback through weaknesses in the cliff bands.

IMG_20210618_074820_2 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210618_074913 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210618_090830_3 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210618_100721 by bryandkeith on flickr

I guess I might have to admit I was perhaps disappointed with the ancient city of Selge. It gets a lot of hype, and lots of tourists visit. Certainly there’s more to see than at Pednelissos, but no one’s ever heard of Pednelissos so you can hardly be disappointed by high expectations.

Of course, everyone takes photos of Selge’s theatre:

IMG_20210618_112938_41 by bryandkeith on flickr

but I was amazed that of the many tour groups that arrived while I was walking around (thankfully I beat all the traffic up the climb), no one walked up to see the agora. What an amazing spot for a market place:

IMG_20210618_115024 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210618_115454 by bryandkeith on flickr

Houses in the modern village, Altınkaya, are built on the Roman stadium, one of the only flat areas around. Here’s a woman boiling milk to make yogurt with the ancient stadium rows in the sun to her right:

IMG_20210618_121207 by bryandkeith on flickr

The other attraction in this area is called Adam Kayalar (People Rocks). A wonderful road connects Selge to the main part of Adam Kayalar, but the scenery and rock formations along this road are even better than the designated Adam Kayalar site. Oddly, none of the tour groups headed this way after visiting Selge. During the three hours I spent on this road, I think only two cars came by.

IMG_20210618_162026 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210618_154925 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210618_162622 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210618_164220 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210618_171931 by bryandkeith on flickr

The next morning I descended and crossed the Köprü Çayı to get on the east side of the river for the first time. I liked the architecture of the largely abandoned houses in the largely abandoned villages. The only one named on my map was Gaziler, but I didn’t see anyone until I got close to Tazı Kanyon.

IMG_20210619_091326 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210619_091412 by bryandkeith on flickr

Tazı Kanyon is where I found all the tour groups again. It’s the same river (Köprü Çayı) as downstream in Köprülü Kanyon, but being a separate and more impressive canyon, it gets its own name. Once again by starting early I beat the tour groups and had a couple quiet minutes at the canyon overlook before the hordes descended.

IMG_20210619_103104 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210619_103844_51 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210619_104224 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210619_104218 by bryandkeith on flickr

Looking down I fantasized about the canyoneering possibilities, but I had never heard of anyone going through Tazı Kanyon. Well, since then I’ve talked to two friends who have done it. Sounds like an amazing 3-4 day trip. Adding to the list…

My planned route changed here. Instead of heading north to Çaltepe, I headed south to Antalya. First back to Köprülü Kanyon where I had another stream-side, shady lunch:

IMG_20210619_124714 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210619_134147 by bryandkeith on flickr

From there osm showed a route over the mountains south to Karataş. Well, it does exist but not what’s shown on osm. Getting to the ridge and this nice, flat campsite was fairly straightforward:

IMG_20210620_063824 by bryandkeith on flickr

Choosing which road to take down in the morning was a bit tricky because some of them end above the cliff band about half way down the mountain. These are old forest roads used when they cut most of the trees a number of years ago. The roads don’t necessarily go anywhere.

IMG_20210620_081043 by bryandkeith on flickr

I was hot and tired by the time I got back (again!) to the Köprü Çayı. I took a swim and ended up falling asleep in the shade, sure I wouldn’t make it back to Antalya that day.

IMG_20210620_115225 by bryandkeith on flickr

Amazing what a little rest does, although once again, most of the credit for moving efficiently through the long flat section probably goes to the tailwind.

IMG_20210620_131740 by bryandkeith on flickr

I passed Aspendos,

IMG_20210620_141436 by bryandkeith on flickr

and in Kundu I caught up with a lovely young Brazilian cyclist, Larissa from Pirenópolis. We stopped for a food break at Lara Beach and a photo at Düden Şelalesi.

Larissa at Düden Şelalesi by bryandkeith on flickr

If you want to be inspired (and brush up on your Portuguese), check out Larissa’s website. Boa viagem, Larissa, um prazer conhocer você.

antalya_adamkayaler by bryandkeith on flickr
  • 323 tour distance (km)
  • 9735 total elevation gain (m)
  • 6 days of the tour
  • 6 cycling days
  • 5 nights in the tent
  • 87 most distance cycled in one day (km)
  • 2241 most elevation gain in one day (m)
  • 54 average distance on cycling days (km)
  • 1622 average elevation gained on cycling days (m)
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3 Responses to Antalya-Adam Kayalar dumbbell bicycle tour

  1. Mike Painter says:

    Great trip, as always!

  2. Curt Bradner says:

    Just getting caught up on your site – this route looks AMAZING.
    And to bump into a Portugeuse cyclist – Que bom!

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