After flying over the Black Sea and running around Istanbul Airport for our connection, we finally landed in Antalya. It’s a pity I was feeling sick all the way and turning from green to yellow every five minutes. Landing in Antalya was simply stunning. We flew above the city, quite low and close to the buildings. Then the plane headed out over the Mediterranean, continuing its descend and making a wide curve all the way back to land, which was the tip of the iceberg for my stomach. I was sitting next to the window and in between closing my eyes in order not to throw up, I could see bits and pieces of what was going on out there. And it was spectacular.
Once we were back down on earth the “Great Adventure” had officially begun. First we wanted to get our luggage. We were sitting there waiting, until we realized that everyone else got their stuff and nothing else was coming out. You could have read all our thoughts back then just by seeing our pale expressions. I was already looking around for a complaint desk when I recognized our two backpacks on a different moving band in the opposite corner. I was never happier to see something I would have to carry before. Our whole lives were packed into these small 30 liter each backpacks. Climbing gear included.
It was five o’clock, meaning we had less than three hours of light to get to JoSiTo Guesthouse Camp, near Geyikbayirı village, somewhere in the mountains and some 30 km from where we were standing. It was quite a challenge. After using an airport ATM to get some TL (Turkish Lira), we exited the Domestic Flights Terminal. The bus station was just in front and we decided to follow everyone else and take the 600 bus, Havalimani-Otogar. It seemed like the right direction. We paid the driver less than 2 TL per person. It was quite a ride. The driver was furious, going fast and honking everyone and everything on the way. One hour later, after crossing Antalya, which is pretty big, we arrived at the Otogar. This is the main bus station in the city, with several buildings and buses leaving in almost every direction. I said almost for a reason, because there was no bus for Çakırlar, the village we were trying to reach. So we wondered about the large station for some time, until we were convinced that there was nothing left to do here. Sign language proved to be our salvation and we managed to find a smaller bus station very close. We left the Otogar, got back on the main road and went right. Then, on the first road to the right we saw the minibuses. The 521 dolmuș (minibus) to Çakırlar was already waiting for us. The 501 dolmuș also goes to Çakırlar, but on a slightly different route. We paid the driver approximately 2 TL per person. We still had to go through what was left of Antalya, picking up locals on the way. And all this way the small bus was going as fast as a cart. If we would have ran beside it would have been the same thing. But the houses seemed to disappear and the bus started to go faster and faster on some narrow streets, between orange and lemon orchards. We underestimated the driver’s skills. We weren’t sure where we should get off because Çakırlar was bigger than we were expecting. But an old Turkish guy sitting beside us gave us some directions, telling us to wait and sit. And we got down at the end of the minibus route, at the last houses of the village. This is where the ascent to Geyikbayirı begins, on a paved road.
We put our backpacks on, walked for about 5 meters and a car stopped. We couldn’t say no to such an offer so we hopped in. This old local guy drove like a lunatic on these really narrow and steep curves and let us off at the JoSiTo Camp sign, before the village of Geyikbaiyrı.
It was already dark and we went down the dirt road guided by the moon light. Down at the bottom we could hear music and see folks having dinner in the restaurant and or sitting by the camp fire outside. We had arrived at JoSiTo Guesthouse Camp, our home for the next three months!