Mud Baths and The Best Boat Tour on Lake Koycegiz

As I said before, the breakfast at Fulya Pension was great. We were also able to get discounted tickets to take a boat tour.

The guidebook said the tour was 25 lira, I’d heard that the other Tango Pension (the backpacker place) sold them for 20 lira, but at Fulya Pension they were just 15 lira each.

This was both of our favorite day in Turkey. It was also one of the cheapest.
carved rock tombs Turkey
Turkish Boat tours
We got on the boat at 9:00 and the boat took off at 9:15 am. We didn’t know exactly what to expect, but sometimes that’s the best way to go. We were the only foreigners on the boat. Koycegiz is a holiday spot for Turkish people. Within a very short time we had made friends with a bunch of the people on the boat. They had all brought picnic baskets, coolers, games, books, and other things. We had brought just our camera and towels since lunch was included in the price of the trip.
Turkey, Koycegiz Lake
Lucky for us we were sitting near a retired forester and his family. He shared passion fruit, apples, and figs with us.

Turkish passion fruit
Turkish lilikoi!

All from his property in the hills of Koycegiz. His son and daughter in law both spoke English and we became fast friends with them. They live in Istanbul and were visiting to spend time with his dad.
travel in turkey, turkey trips
As the boats chugged along we chatted and I marveled at my first sighting of Lycian tombs carved into the rock faces above. The tombs look like ancient greek cities but they are carved directly into the sides of mountains. Stunning and powerful. The lake is filled with reed beds and the mountains make a jaw dropping backdrop.
Lycean graves on the shore of Koycegiz Lake
I spotted a big sea turtle as the boat went by but Hanane didn’t believe me. Later we found out that Koycegiz is a place where sea turtles come to lay their eggs so I felt justified, though her doubt had made me wonder if I was seeing things that weren’t there.
As we came closer to Dalyan, I was relieved that we hadn’t chosen to stay there. There were literally hundreds of tour boats along the shores of Dalyan and plenty of pasty, chubby tourists queuing up to get in them. Meanwhile we were chatting with our new Turkish friends. I was relieved the boats didn’t stop in Dalyan.

lake tour, Koycegiz, Dalyan, Sea turtles
The view isn’t always what you would expect on the Med, but check out that Muslim swim suit

Our first stop was at a beach on the Med. The admission was 2.5 lira each but it was worth it. The sand was very hot and so we ran across it to the cool waves and looked out at the many islands in front of us. A natural channel connects the lake to the sea and at this point it was only a 50 meter wide strip of sand that separated them from each other. The beach was filled with chubby Europeans on holiday from Britain and Germany, but overall we enjoyed the time there.
boat tour, koycegiz lake
We returned to the boat for lunch and it was delicious. They barbecued fish on board and served them with salad and watermelon. After lunch we expected to go to the mud baths, but it turns out we had more time at the beach, so this time we jumped in the brackish water on the side we were on and swam with the other folks from the boat. Hanane amazed me by jumping in the water from the side of the boat despite not being able to swim very well. I pulled her up and over to shore because she was panicking a little because she hadn’t expected to go so deep.
Finally, we left and went to the mud baths. They were a very reasonable 4 lira each for the mud baths and the thermal mineral baths both.
Koycegiz mudbaths
I don’t recommend dunking your whole head under the mud since I got plenty of it in my eyes, ears, and nose. Instead it is better to just rub the mud on your face. It was fairly surreal to climb out and look at all the other mud covered people drying in the sun. Like being on another planet. The mud is slightly radioactive and contains many minerals which are supposed to be very good for your skin and health.
After the mud dried, a shower and a swim removed it. Then it was time to sit in the mineral baths. Also very nice. Our only complaint for the day was that we would have preferred to spend more time at this spot and a little less at the beach, but perhaps that’s only us. We were at the mud baths about an hour. a very fun hour.
Turkish music, dancing in Turkey
When the hour was up we got back on board the boat and went back to Koycegiz. On the way back the guys on the boat pumped up the Turkish music and everyone danced! We were both exhausted and fell asleep without having any dinner. It was a great day. We met friends, had a wonderful day, and didn’t spend very much. Does it get much better?

new friends along the road
I swear, he didn’t steal my mustache! One thing I love about Turkey is I can let my mustache freak flag fly…and it’s normal!

I swear my mustache is safe and sound with my cousin Lou. I might take the chance to grow a big Turkish mustache while I’m here though.

Koycegiz – Our Favorite Place in Turkey

The mini bus to Koycegiz was 30 lira each and took about five hours. It was definitely the worst transport value we found since it cost more to sit in a less comfortable mini bus for less time than it had to sit in a big luxurious bus for more time. I didn’t really understand it, but that was just the way it was.
As I said before, Hanane had heard about the mud baths at Koycegiz and this had become the number one thing she wanted to do in Turkey. The mud baths are on the shores of Lake Koycegiz and there are a number of ways to get to them. Most people choose to go to Dalyan which is closer to the beautiful Mediterranean beaches and slightly more developed in it’s tourist infrastructure.
lake filled iwth fish, koycegiez

Don’t worry, this was catch and release! My wife has quick hands- don’t mess with her!

We had a few people recommend it to us, but something told me to go to the town of Koycegiz instead. Some people we met didn’t understand why we would want to go there at all, but most hadn’t even heard of it although that was possibly because I kept calling it KOY-SEE-GEEZ but the name is closer to KOY-SHEEZ.
Alison had told us there were two pensions there. One for backpackers and one for families. I wanted the one for families since I sort of hate being around backpackers. That might surprise you but the truth is I’m not a backpacker. I have a shoulder bag. I don’t travel to get drunk with other foreigners. I don’t travel to meet other travelers, though sometimes this is a nice thing. I don’t travel to get laid by easy English girls in foreign lands, though that used to be a benefit I enjoyed. I travel because I like to see new places and the people who live in them. I like to see what life is like in the places I go. I already know what life is like in backpacker hostels.

Fulya Pension

We chose to stay at the Fulya Pension and I recommend it in the highest possible way. For 40 lira we had an air conditioned room with a balcony, plenty of hot water, a big comfortable bed, tv, free bike use, help arranging a boat tour, delicious breakfasts, and plenty of privacy.
fulya pension, kocegiez lake, turkey
We wanted to swim and so we dropped our bags in our room, changed into our swim suits and took a couple of bikes to go find a great place to swim. Lake Koycegiz is incredibly gorgeous. The water is rich with minerals and so has a pale turquoise color that reminds me of glacial lakes in Alaska. As we biked around, I though to myself, “This is the real Turkey” because we passed kids on bikes, old guys coming down to the lake shore after work for a swim, friends sitting in the shady grass along the shore, and guys drinking beer on park benches (though these didn’t look like the bums in Union Square of Seattle.)
Koycegiz Lake, Koycegiz Town
We rode past a kids carnival and a public swimming beach and down a dirt road surrounded by high cattails. I showed Hanane how to pull up the roots and eat them raw and they were as delicious as I remembered. We found our spot. We waded out through a little bit of mud to where the shores of the lake dropped off incredibly steeply. The water was very warm. Hanane was a little shy in her new bikini ( I heart Muslim Bikini Girls!!!!) so you won’t get to see any pictures of her but we had a wonderful time swimming there and only left when we looked up and saw a couple of strange folks sitting on the shore just staring at us non-stop. For a long time. It was disconcerting and so we went back to shore where I took a picture of the lookers and waved before we left. Now we can all look at them. Hanane says I’m an awful revenger. It’s true.
Lake Kocegiez Rednecks
That evening we went into the town and found the opening ceremonies of a film festival with live music and plenty of booths and craft stalls. This wasn’t set up for tourists, it was for the locals. We had a fairly nice dinner of schnitzel and kifta for ten lira, we noticed a lot of German food in Koycegiz. We wandered down the shoreline in this beautiful town for strolling and came across a Turkish wedding. We joined the merry makers for a while but then we left because it was time for bed because the next day we were taking a boat tour and going to the Koycegiz mud baths.

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