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“Fire in the Mountains”

Cirali

sunny

For a long time I had heard of the “Fire in the Mountains” near Antalya and had wanted to see this phenomenon with my own eyes.
Known by the local inhabitants as the Yanartaş (burning stone), it is caused by natural Methane gas escaping from the rocks.

I had done some research and found out it was a Mountain near Olympus and Cirali.

I finally had the opportunity just before I was leaving Turkey to come home for a visit.
My Turkish friend and I left Fethiye to spend a few days in Olympus, before going onto Antalya to the airport.

My friend was also very curious to see the flames, as he totally did not believe this was possible. A fact I found very amusing. Firstly he had never heard of “Chimera”, which I was amazed at, as a lot of foreigners know of this place but this was his Country and he did not know about it. Secondly, he was convinced it was a “sham” for the tourists. So eventually I persuaded him to accompany me and see for himself.

We drove down into Cirali looking for a small hotel. I really wanted one with a pool, but the main ones along the front where way out of our price range.

Finally we found the wonderful “Canada Hotel”. Set back a bit from the beach on the road into the village, it is run by a Canadian Woman and her Turkish husband.

Very clean with a wonderful pool, and great food, the setting is lovely, tucked away in a quiet spot, and very peaceful.

It is about a 20 minute walk through the Forest to the beach from here.

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We had been told the best time to visit the mountain was as the sun was setting, as it is cooler for the climb, and the fires are more dramatic in the dark.

So filling a backpack with some Beer and snacks, we drove to the base at the North end of the village. Here there are signposts to the burning flames of the Chimaera. If you are staying in the village or in the Tree House areas, there is a tractor and trailer, which will bring you to the base.

Historical info : The famous myth of Bellerophontes is said to have taken place here.
When he arrived in Lycia, Bellerophontes found out that every night the Chimera, a monster with the head of a lion and the tail of a dragon, terrorized the village taking the children, women and livestock away and leaving their bones alongside the mountain.
Bellerophontes became the hero killing the fire-breathing Chimera from the back of Pegasus, who not only carried the hero but actively participated in the battle himself.

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There is a something special about this place that draws people to want to undertake the steep climb of this mountain. The climb is about 1 km uphill, and it consists of a series of wide very steep rock steps and it normally takes about 20 - 30 minutes depending on the individual.
I have to admit I had to stop 3 or 4 times to catch my breath, as it is very steep in some parts. On the way up, we passed trees laden with small pieces of cloth. When I asked I was told that they were prayers, given to Allah asking for help, or a small thank you.

I am also ashamed to say that twice I was passed by elderly Turkish Women looking fresh as daisies!

We did this climb in late September, and I imagine that late Autumn or early Spring would be the best time to attempt it, as the weather is a little cooler then.

Closer to the flames the path opens out to the natural terrain of the area.

It is more difficult walking back down and a MUST is good walking shoes. No flip-flops or high heeled shoes. We found that a torch was a must, and the best ones are the ones you wear on your head, as this leaves your hands free for the climb.

Staggering, gasping and crawling the last bit, we finally arrived at the top. It opens out here into some flattish areas with small pockets of flames everywhere.

It was still daylight, and difficult to appreciate them at their best, so we found a flat spot, spread out a blanket and cracked open the beers.
The views down over the bay are worth the climb alone, plus it is noticeably cooler at that height. It's about 180 metres above sea level.
The sun slowly started to set, and the fires seemed to dance alive.

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I can understand now why people make the climb. It was a magical sight.

My Turkish friend, inspired by a few beers, and who was still not convinced, started poking sticks and other things into the holes, to catch the Man who must be underneath the rocks lighting the fires. It was an amusing sight.

He spent ages running from one Methane hole to another, extinguishing the fires, only to be astonished when they magically relit themselves.
We stayed a while, sipping our beer and watching the Turkish Families using the natural barbecues to cook sausages and chicken.

Coming down is a whole new experience, especially with a few beers under your belt !

This is a high conservation area, and still unknown to a lot of tourists. I do hope it retains this charm.

One other place we found was a Nightclub high in the rockface at Olympus, called Babylon Town. Dancing all night under the stars with a cool breeze was great.

Quirky but fantastic location.

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Posted by TravelnTurkey 09:00 Archived in Turkey Tagged mountains beaches travel turkey antalya olympus

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