Back to healthy basics in Turkey

Each year millions of holidaymakers choose Turkey for their vacation, and discover that the country has much more to offer than sun and sea, which is why wellbeing, nature, and activity breaks are growing in popularity.

Budget hotel ’n beach vacations – think all-inclusive packages – have long been a staple of Turkey’s tourist industry, but the focus of the country’s culture and tourism ministry now is on holidays that are healthy for the body, mind, soul … and the environment. At Brighton-based Responsible Travel, marketing executive Sarah Faith reports that while demand for “fly ‘n’ flop” holidays in Turkey has declined, bookings for “active, more adventurous holidays such as walking, cycling, sea kayaking etc.” continue. Activity holidays sold via the agency are screened for their commitment to supporting local communities and protecting local environments. The agency marks all-inclusive package holidays as over-rated, while flagging up as under-rated activity holidays, snow – Turkey’s ski season runs from December to April – and Cirali, a coastal resort in an environmentally-protected enclave where loggerhead turtles lay their eggs beneath the beach. It recommends as rated Turkey’s ancient ruins – Neolithic, Byzantine, Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and Armenian – kayaking, and cruises on gulets (traditional sailing boats based on former sponge-diving vessels) along the Turquoise Coast.

A mixture of breathtaking experiences

Responsible Travel’s eight-day family activity holiday based in Dalyan in south-west Turkey combines adventure and conservation themes with an itinerary featuring sea and lake kayaking, canyoning, hiking, and mountain biking, though not all on the same day! Accommodation is in a small, locally-owned hotel, the guides are local, and holidaymakers get to learn about the local flora and fauna, much of it rare and endangered. Groups are limited to 12 to minimize the impact of tourism on the environment. A Walking the Turquoise Coast vacation (also eight days) mixes scenery and ancient sites. The many trails include sections of the 335-mile Lycian Way – Turkey’s first long-distance walking route. Highlights include the 6th and 5th century BC ruins at Arycanda, and the chance to walk over a Roman aqueduct.

Back to healthiness

“Wellness holidays have certainly become more popular in the past five years,” says Ulrike Spire at Neal’s Yard Holidays, established in 1991 and specialising in yoga retreats and wellbeing vacations. Almost all of the company’s holidays cater for vegetarian or vegan diets and offer local organic food.

One of the company’s flagship wellness holidays is Huzur Vadisi, Turkey’s longest established (1993) yoga retreat in a secluded mountain valley 15 minutes from the Turquoise Coast. A wide range of yoga styles is offered, plus massage, boat and walking trips. The retreat – open from April to October – is green, producing some of its energy from solar power, collecting rainwater for use in gardens, and re-cycling waste.