Ed is a new friend who has a deep affinity with our part of Turkey. He is drawn to mountains and wide, open vistas which I understand. Ed is from the US – California to be exact and he says ‘Wow!’ a lot. Then he says it backwards ‘!woW’ which may have more to do with his age and California Dreamin’ than the view!
(Ed is not so much a ‘new friend’ these days as this was originally posted on Archers of Okçular June 2013)
So it was that J and I offered to take him to one of our favorite ‘!woW’ places where, once upon a time, seldom did the shoes of outsiders tread – Girdev Lake which, at 1800 mts, is a long way up and over Ak Dağ mountain near the small town of Seki, not too far from the Fethiye-Antalya road in SW Turkey. As so often happens with wild, unspoilt places that take a bit of effort to get to, tourism catches on and has the effect of altering or, in some cases, totally messing up what Toprakana-Mother Nature seemed to think was really pretty good in the first place.
Access gets ‘improved’ and before long ways are being found to commodify and exploit the place by upgrading the environment.
So it is with Girdev which is a sort of crater lake in that it is totally surrounded by mountains. Rain and especially snow-melt feeds the seasonal waters. No rivers flow from the lake and it drains through a sink-hole near the north end before emerging as the Kazanpınar Spring some 18 kms away near Elmalı in Antalya province. Nature’s balance meant that as the lake dried great swathes of wild flowers emerged, particularly Orchis palastris – the Marsh Orchid. Girdev is also home to many different species of birds and insects as well as the great flocks of sheep brought up there each season by the traditional nomadic herders.
That was then, this is now – tourism has come! A permanent ‘camp’ has been built to house those who want to visit this unique place for longer than a day-trip. Nothing wrong with that I say.
What is sad is that, pandering to money from those who know no better, a shallow dam has been raised restricting the flow to the sink-hole and creating a permanent lake where one never existed before and this has been stocked with carp. Nature will adapt and species will change – my question is ‘Why does money always have to trump nature?’ There will always be consequences – nomadic herders have lost much of their traditional grazing grounds; to make ends meet will they have to resort to opening restaurants and gözleme (pancake) stalls around the lake? And what about the water quality at Elmalı as tourism expands? That said, Girdev is still yet a lonely and wildly beautiful place – as long as you miss the Jeep safari crowds!
Anyway, enough of that, back to Ed and the ‘!woW’ factor. As I said, he loves to photograph vistas which means that getting anywhere can take a while longer than with most people. That said, seeing the familiar through Ed’s fresh eyes was truly refreshing and reinforced the reasons that J and I love this country so much.
So, Ed, we owe you – although I do think that that lunch with a family of herders was ample compensation!
So, there you have it, a mere drop in a veritable cascade of Ed’s views of this trip to the ‘wild, blue yonder’ of Girdev.
Alan in Okçular