We drive inland from the Kemer – Antalya road up a dusty, rough-hewn track towards the foothills of the mountains where we lumber to a stop at a dead end. There’s no other cars around and the only sign of life are a few people gossiping in the shade of a huge gate draped with a supersize Eco-Fun Adventure Park sign.
We were drawn here by tempting pictures of waterfalls, azure green waters and the tantalising prospect of a dip in cool waters far from the madding crowds but are wondering if we are in the wrong place…again!
Want to go canyoneering?
We wander perplexed to the Eco-Fun Adventure Park desk, which also seems to serve as a ticket office for general entry to the canyon. We ask about swimming and are advised that we can go canyoneering for 35TL (around £9). They don’t seem overly keen on selling us a 6TL entrance ticket to go gorge walking, clearly sensing the prospect of being able to seduce us with other more adventurous options.
After some discussion we decide to take the plunge. It is my birthday after all! The kids looks unsure but we hand over the cash and jump into a jeep for a bouncy ride up the mountainside. We pass a canyon zipline suspended above emerald pools in the lower valley, eerily silent at this hour, before the 4×4 starts ascending. It careers around corners with steep drop offs, tears through a shallow riverbed, spraying us with water, which has us squealing with joy as we imagine ourselves stars in an Indiana Jones movie.
A short while later we are deposited above a steep incline leading to pools of fresh water, dramatic sculptured cliffs jutting from the water reaching up to heather clad peaks towering above.
A brief briefing
We are kitted out in wetsuits, bootees, helmets and life vests and given the shortest briefing imaginable. Our simple instructions – ‘swim 40m into the canyon then head to the waterfall and return’. We have no idea what to expect, raging waterfalls, steep climbs or a serene, lazy river experience? Only time will tell.
Into the canyon
We wade into the refreshing pool of water by the Eco-Adventure base and lazily kick our way into the narrow canyon entrance. Here sheer walls rise from the water casting shadows on the twinkling water below. It’s easier to navigate on our backs, with the tight life vests restricting our movement, so we float along until our feet touch rocks and the water suddenly disappears.
From here, we clamber over rocks and boulders, big and large through pools shallow and deep always within the sanctuary of the thin canyon, a sliver of blue sky just visible above. At times we have to help one another awkwardly climb through mini waterfalls and at one stage navigate a rope ladder up a small, steep incline from one pool to another.
It’s not overly challenging but enough to provide a frisson of excitement as we anticipate reaching the waterfall, our Jewel in the crown.
The waterfall crescendo
Forty minutes later, we start to hear the distant thunder of water crashing over the rocks and round a corner to glimpse a deep, green pool of water nestled in a wide area beneath an unconquerable waterfall. We slink into the underbelly of the falls where we balance on rocks under the full pelt of the torrents.
We find ourselves laughing like young children and before you know it my husband is encouraging us to climb up the rocks and jump carefree into the depths of this hidden pool. We whoop and holler, our voices echoing around the canyon walls, faint vestiges of our words reverberating back at us.
We compete to see who can create the biggest splash, the loudest celebration or the best memento of our day but all too soon we hear other voices, and make to leave, wanting to preserve the memories of our time alone in this hidden water pool.
We slide, clamber and swim our way back to the start, pausing to use a mini waterfall as a makeshift slide, but all too soon we are drifting through the deeper water of the canyon entrance passing more and more people starting to arrive as morning heads into lunchtime. Blinking, we re-emerge into bright sunshine casting patterns on the shallow pool, discard our safety equipment and descend the hillside in search of our next adventure (or cocktail! It is my birthday after all!)