Kelebek Vadisi, back to basics

Kelebek Vadisi, back to basics

Wilco Van Herpen ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Kelebek Vadisi, back to basics

Hürriyet Daily News photo by Wilco Van Herpen

Have you ever been to a hippie paradise in Turkey? Well, if you want to see one you have to go to Kelebek Vadisi (Butterfly Valley) in Ölü Deniz. A bigger contrast between Ölü Deniz and Kelebek Vadisi is impossible. Ölü Deniz is a modern holiday location with all the attractions you can dream of. If you want to fly a Delta wing, it is possible. If you want to dive, have a nice boat trip or just sunbathe, then those things are also possible. Actually, everything you can imagine is possible.

Then there is Kelebek Vadisi: No noisy bars, no people selling you a boat trip, no luxury. It is a back to basics kind of place.

The best way to go to Kelebek Vadisi is by boat. Every day a couple of times the boat from Kelebek Vadisi is waiting for you at the beach of Ölü Deniz. You get on board and, with some other people who want to spend some time there, you set off.

Once embarking on the boat, the first thing you see is a row of little tents parallel with the coastline. About a hundred meters to your left there are some buildings. Everybody who decides to stay in Kelebek Vadisi has to register over there. Most of the people bring their own tent, but if you for any reason did not bring your own tent you can always rent one. Nowadays there are even a couple of small bungalows in the valley.

I went to the communal sitting place near the kitchen. It was nice, and I found a place in the shade. There were quite a lot of people here and most were between the ages of 18 and 30. Then I noticed an older guy. He must have been over 60 years old, with long hair. “This place is amazing,” he said. “I come here every two years and have the time of my life. Life is so laid back; there is no stress and no rush here. The biggest queue you see is when it is dinner time.”

It turns out that the man, Ludwig is his name, is German and has lived in Turkey for many years. “Lately [Kelebek Vadisi] has become quite popular,” Ludwig said. “The last five years the guests who stay here have changed. It is not the Lost Paradise anymore but with it comes a certain kind of comfort that was missing during that time.”

The next morning I wake up quite early. The sun directly shines in my tent and it is incredibly warm. Breakfast is served so I sit down with the friends I made yesterday evening and enjoy breakfast. It is so easy to make friends here; everybody is very open and talkative. Before I realize, it is noon. A big
wooden sailboat slowly approaches the beach.

A second one arrives and within 20 minutes the whole beach is occupied by sailboats. It is as if pirates found a new hideout and are occupying their hideaway. “What’s happening?” I ask. Bora explains to me that every day around noon the tour boats from Ölü Deniz anchor here in the bay so people can have their lunch here. It is so strange, the contrast between the people staying here and the daily tourists arriving in those big boats. And to make the contrast even bigger, a stork slowly walks around. For him (or her) it does not matter what kind of tourist he sees. For him people are just people, something he got used to over time. It does not look anywhere specifically until suddenly the stork runs away to someone who holds out a fish. Forty-five minutes later all the day tourists are gone. Silence returns again. It is as if nothing happened. The empty cans and plates, though, show that there has been an invasion.

I walk around, leave the crowd behind me and within minutes I am alone in a huge valley. After passing a gate it is as if I am in a jungle, bushes and grass as tall as I am. There must be a waterfall somewhere around here and after a nice hike I hear the sound of water hitting rocks. Finally, I am there. The sun is shining ruthlessly and I am soaking wet from sweat. I put my camera away and step into the waterfall. The water is nice and cold. It cools me down and I feel refreshed.