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Lake Bafa

The main road from Milas to Söke skirts the south of the lake, pasing through Çamiçi (Bafa), 10 km south of Kapıkırı on an unpaved road. Most of the northern shore is accessible only by boat or on foot. Çamiçi is 80km from Bodrum, 165km from Izmir.

‘A wild enchanting feeling of sanctuary broods over this lake, solitary in the folds of Latmus and sacred still, surely to Artemis,’ Freya Stark wrote in Ionia. ‘Even as one approached, it became apparent that every untamed creature felt at home.’ Lake Bafa offers some of the most beautiful scenery in Anatolia, a calm wilderness where nature is fully at ease. Moonlight shimmering on the lake is a reminder that this is where the shepherd Endymion slept, oblivious to the love that Selene brought him nightly. The lake was formed after the coast had become cut off from what was a gulf in the Aegean, silted up by the Meander river. Early Christians found refuge here, building a dozen monasteries around the lake. Enfolded by the 1400-metre Mount Latmos, the lake is part of a national park. Its waters, which are still slightly saline, breed mullet, sea bream and eels, which, it is thought, through some underground access to the Aegean to reach the Atlantic to breed in the Sargasso Sea. Roger Williams

Some planning is needed to track down the remains of the monasteries in and around the lake. The largest is the Stylos Monastery high up in the Latmos Mountains and in a nearby cave there are frescos. In the mountains to the east there are prehistoric cave paintings dating from 7000BC and including some Hittite inscriptions. Pelicans, cormorants and flamingos are among the 250 bird species that pass through, and around 60 kinds of orchids brighten the slopes. In the unhurried village of Kapiri (Latmos Herklia) women wait for visitors to sell them home-made trinkets.

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Issue 66, December 2023 Turkey’s Centenary Issue
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