Dilek Milli Park (Milli Park, Dilek Park, Dilek Peninsula National Park and the Big Menderes River Delta) is a unique natural pearl on the Aegean coast of Turkey, the National Park, which includes almost the entire Dilek Peninsula and the Big Menderes River Delta (there are other names - Menderes, Mendares, Meander).
The entrance to the park is on the outskirts of the village of Guzelcamli, 18 kilometers south of the city of Kusadasi. When the small antique polis Melie was located on the site of the current resort village, however, no architectural monuments have been preserved here since ancient times, today Guzelchamly lives the usual life of a resort suburb: hotels, summer cottages of the Turks, several landscaped streets with modern fountains and sculptures and several traditional Turkish courtyards with livestock and poultry.
The conservation zone was organized on the peninsula in the middle of the 20th century, the status of the territory has changed more than once, now it is a national park. The entrance is located in the southeast of Guzelchamla, there is also a map showing the main routes and the most famous representatives of flora and fauna. You can move around the park both on foot and on a motorcycle or car, the cost of a ticket in the presence of a vehicle is higher.
On the network there is often information that in the territory of Milli Park you can see Anatolian leopards. Unfortunately, this is not true: Anatolian leopards lived in these parts in the first half of the 20th century, and already in the 1960s, zoologists noted the disappearance of signs of the existence of a population of these rare cats. It is traditionally believed that the last individuals died on the peninsula from 1965 to 1967, and in 1974 the last Anatolian leopard was killed in the east of the country altogether, the law prohibiting hunting for leopards was tragically late. Already at the beginning of the XXI century, both from international researchers and from ordinary residents, there were reports that they saw leopards, but all such episodes occurred on the border of Turkey and Georgia, as well as on the border of Turkey and Iran, perhaps we are talking about the Near Asian (Persian) leopard - a Red Book relative of the Anatolian leopard.
There is a known case of a century and a half ago, when a leopard, fleeing forest fires, rushed into the water and swam across the Mikale Strait, thus reaching the island of Samos. The stuffed leopard is now in the Samos Museum.
Nevertheless, wild animals on the Dilek Peninsula are missing. Most often, tourists see wild boars that have long ceased to be afraid of people and often go out into open spaces during the day. It is also quite easy to see forest cats and half-wild horses, there are many turtles near the shore, and dolphins are often found in coastal waters. If you go deep into the reserve, you can see a lynx, and on the rocky coast on the western edge of the reserve - a rare monk seal (Monachus monachus), also listed in the Red Book. Once it was widespread, it was also regularly found on the Black Sea coast, but due to active hunting and reduction of habitats neither in Russia nor in Ukraine, these seals do not live now, there is a small herd only on the Bulgarian coast.
Please note, however, that a significant part of the reserve’s territory is not accessible for visiting (Turkish military facilities are located here), therefore, when exploring nature, you should carefully move around and observe signs if possible, military violators are usually taken without significant fines to the entrance to the reserve.
The most visited section of the park is a 10-kilometer stretch of road that starts immediately after entering the park and passes by four beautiful pebble beaches. Beaches have long been chosen not only by tourists, but also by local residents.
Fans of long walks often make a one-day climb from the village to the crest of Samsun Mountain, whose height is 1237 meters. On the slopes of this peak and the adjoining mountains and hills, the forests traditional for the Mediterranean have been perfectly preserved: junipers, cypresses, oaks, chestnuts, pines, ash trees, oleanders. Of course, there are many birds living on trees and in rocks, as well as in the mouth of the Bolshoi Menderes River located south of the mountain range, from eagles and pelicans to herons and cormorants.
To the south of the reserve is located one of the most beautiful open-air museums - the ruins of the ancient city of Priene. Located on the slope of the spurs of the Samsun Mountains, the policy is already outside the reserve, but from it you can see both the mountainous and lowlands of Milli Park.
In the national park itself, small fragments of two ancient settlements have been preserved. One of them is the Panionion sanctuary (Panionium, the name Panionion is often found incorrectly on the Internet). Scientists disagree about the names of the second: some German historians identify the ruins as the remains of Skolopoes (the sanctuary associated with the name of the fertility goddess Demeter), others speak of Nolokos (a small port providing part of Priene's trade), English and Turkish archaeologists believe that this is about the small settlement of Thebes (Thebes), whose name may be associated with the legendary characters of mythological plots associated with the hero Heracles, the god Poseidon and the beautiful Europe. It is possible that the same settlement had different names in different years.
Among other attractions of the park related to mythology, it is worth noting the cave of Zeus - one of the many caves located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and bearing the name of the main god of the ancient Greek pantheon (other caves of Zeus are located on the Cyclades islands and Crete). It is located near the entrance.
In addition to pagan sanctuaries in the reserve itself, there are places near it that are important for Christians: in the east of the park you can find the remains of a small stone monastery Kursunlu. Tourists are easiest to get there by ordering a jeep safari.
Milli Park also has several viewing platforms that offer a traditionally beautiful view of the adjacent Aegean Sea and Samos Island.
Kusadasi: useful information
|Bus||No. 271, 272, bus stop Güzelçamlı Zeus Mağarası|
Dilek National Park is located on the eponymous peninsula in western Turkey, on the Aegean coast. Here you can find many species of animals and plants brought from around the world, including very rare ones. The peninsula is recognized by the Council of Europe as a biogenetic protected reserve.
The park on the peninsula was created in the last century - in 1966, and at the end of the 1990s the territory of the Bolshoi Menderes River Delta was added to it. The total area of the conservation zone is now more than 27 thousand hectares.
Dilek National Park is a mountain descending to the sea, covered with forests and inhabited by a unique and rich world of animals and plants. In the center of the park is the Dilek mountain range with a height of 1229 meters.
Animal and plant world
First of all, the park is known for its unique variety of animals and plants; it is not for nothing that it is also called a botanical garden. Here you can find representatives of species typical of the region - wild boars, common lynx and jackal, as well as rare species - caracal, striped hyena. Wild boars willingly go to the beaches even in the presence of people. On the shore you can see turtles, and near the shore - dolphins. In the forests there are forest cats and horses. A rare Anatolian leopard, which is on the verge of extinction, was brought to Dilek. However, zoologists note that signs of the existence of a population in the national park have disappeared. In the western part of the rocky coast there is a chance to meet a representative of another rare species - the monk seal, which used to live in Russia on the Black Sea.
There are about 250 species of birds, among which they are most often found - the small cormorant, the small white heron, the curly pelican. It may be lucky to see a flamingo or a rare sea dove.
There are more than 800 species of plants, of which 6 are endemic, which grow only in the national park and 18 in Turkey only. More often than others, red-fronted juniper is found. Of the unusual species - Anatolian chestnut, which can only be found in the forests of Northern Anatolia. During the walk it is possible to go through the forests of pines, oaks, chestnuts, cypresses.
Antique Cities and Christian Temple
The ancient cities of Panionion and Tebai are also worth a look on the peninsula. You need to get to them through the Samsun mountains - on foot or by bicycle. Only fragments remained from ancient settlements. However, among Turkish scholars, there is a version that the second city is the Thebes settlement, which repeatedly appeared in mythological works and is associated with stories about Hercules, Poseidon and Europe.
In the eastern part of the park you can find a symbol of religion, which has changed faith in many gods - the Christian monastery of Kursunlu. Only a part of the stone foundation remained from it. Tourists often go here by jeep safari.
The park can be seen, being among the ruins of the ancient city of Priene, located on the slope of the Samsun Mountains no longer in the nature protection zone.
On the territory of the national park there are four clean equipped pebble beaches, which are visited by both tourists and local residents. The water is crystal clear and there are lime and chestnut groves above the beaches. Tourists note that the last beach is the most picturesque.
View of the beach and the coastal part of the park:
Visiting Dilek Park
The park is open daily except winter. Opening hours depend on the season:
- In the summer: 08: 00-18: 30
- In spring and autumn: 08: 00-17: 00
Now a large part of the park is occupied by the military base, so it will not be possible to get through the whole territory. You need to be careful when visiting and focus on signs.
The entrance to the central gate of the park is on the outskirts of the village of Guzelcamli, 18 km from the city of Kusadasi. Near the entrance there is a map with the main routes. Immediately after the entrance begins a 10-kilometer stretch along which travelers most often walk.
It is recommended to come to the park at the beginning of the day, as the walk can take a lot of time, and after lunch there will be less space on the beaches. You need to take water and a snack with you, which you will need when you stop in places for picnics.
In addition to walking, visitors are invited to:
- Ascent to Samsun Mountain 1237 meters high, usually one day is allocated on the road,
- rock climbing,
- horse or jeep safari
- bird watching.
The national park has viewing platforms where you can admire the views of the Aegean Sea, Samos Island and watch the wildlife of the park. For those traveling by car, parking is also provided.
How to get to Dilek National Park
Since the length of the walking route is 10 km, it will be convenient to come to the park by car. The distance from Kusadasi to the park can be reached in about 50 minutes.
You can also use local taxis: Can Taxi, Kuşadası taxı.
The park can also be reached by public transport: bus No. 271, 272, stop Güzelçamlı Zeus Mağarası. The toll point is 800 meters straight.
Map of the walking route from the bus stop to the park entrance:
Panoramic view of the entrance to the national park:
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Dilek National Park
Dilek National Park - a unique natural treasure on the coast of Turkey, which can be accessed from the village of Guzelchamly, located 18 km from the city of Kusadasi. Dilek Peninsula has been recognized by the Council of Europe as a biogenetic protected reserve.
Dilek National Park hosts on its territory many species of plants, animals and birds that can be found anywhere in the world. Two ancient cities are also located here - Tebai and Panionion, the Harap church (built in the Turkish and Greek style), the ancient building of the Panagia monastery, and the Filikli castle, which have been preserved in excellent condition. Nearby, near the entrance to the park, is located in the cleft of the rock the famous cave of Zeus.
Unfortunately, excursions are not allowed in most of this reserve. But there is a site near the entrance to the park - a ten-kilometer stretch of road. This place is the most visited.It passes by several wonderful pebble beaches where locals like to spend time.
Dilek National Park will demonstrate to its contemplators various representatives of flora and fauna - from chestnut groves to Anatolian cheetahs and wild horses - the only ones left in Turkey.