After a few years of life getting in the way of climbing, we finally booked ourselves our first proper climbing holiday since November 2015. We fell in love with Sicily on that trip, but wanted to explore somewhere else. Simon had read about the climbing in Turkey back in 2009, had bought the guidebook but it had just collected dust. A decade, wedding and house later, it was time to go!
Antalya is a sprawling city on the southern coast, south-west of Ankara. Direct flights from Manchester take 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours depending on head/tail winds, and are really cheap. Because of this, we opted for a bit of luxury – having both landed good jobs up north, and despite enjoying the dirt-bag camping lifestyle, Turkey’s exchange rate means we got a fantastic deal on an all-inclusive five star resort hotel right on Konyaalti Plaji beach. Why not go for a touch of indulgence when on holiday… and so nice to enjoy the spa pool after a full day on the rock.
The real reason for choosing Antalya was its proximity to the main climbing hub – Geyikbayiri. Just a half hour drive away, we could quickly be within the mountains and sun-warmed rock. For those who want to camp, there are two well-known sites right in the heart of the crags; Flying Goat and Josito. From what we could see on the routes they look like fantastic hubs, and ideal if all you want to do for your trip is climb and sleep. Even without transport you can hitchhike to the next village that has an amazing market for your supplies.
Back to the climbing, and you really are spoiled for choice here. We merely scraped the surface of what’s on offer, and as we’re only just getting back into our climbing stride, were tapping into the 5s and 6s only, but there are endless routes for all abilities just waiting. The two main tiers are predominantly south-facing, with the crags following the road. Parking on the side is easy in the dirt laybys, and walk-ins are a few minutes max to the base of the routes. Great quality rock, there’s a variety of features from caves, slabs and the odd limestone tufa, to crimpy conglomerate and easy to read lines.
Even in mid-March, it got hot on the rock in direct line of the sun, but thankfully most of the sectors have vegetation at the base so you can belay in relative comfort. The views from the anchors are spectacular – valley below, snow-covered mountains to the south and if you stretch the sea just glimpsed again to the east.
We did find that the lower tier – predominantly set by Germans – was pretty tough on the grades, but that may have been due to our lack of stamina. That said, there’s still some great lines to get your teeth stuck into even if they feel a bit punchy. A few starred routes scattered means that you get real gems with everything else all still feeling solid and interesting.
Overall this was a great trip, combining relaxing with quality climbing, with plenty to come back to at another time. My only warning is be careful what you eat – despite being in a good resort I contracted pretty severe food-poisoning which kicked in on our return home and wrote me off for 10 days. Be sensible (or at least not as naïve as I was) and stick to cooked meat veg over fresh salad – and there I was thinking I was being healthy! The streetfood kebabs, which we both ate so doesn’t appear to have been the culprit, are absolutely amazing, so highly recommended to try them out. Whatever your holiday preference – dirt cheap or a bit pampered – Turkey has something truly special to offer.