Climbing in Geyikbayiri, Turkey
After Kalymnos, we headed to Geyikbayiri, Turkey for some more climbing, stopping at a few tourist sites along the way. A lot of climbers head to Geyikbayiri after Kalymnos and the weather is generally a bit warmer later in the year.
As soon as we arrived in mid-December we found out the weather had been great up until then but a storm was coming in. Sure enough it hit our first night and didn’t look like it was going to let up. We ended up leaving earlier than planned and only getting in one climbing day so this post won’t be nearly as comprehensive as our other posts. Here’s what we gathered about accommodation, food and, in this case most importantly, how to get there.
How to Get There
Turkey has a great inter-city bus system. Most visitors are quickly impressed with the fact that you can generally show up at any town’s bus station and be on a direct bus to your next stop within the hour. Overnight buses are aplenty in this big country and a lot of them are pretty posh. We even took one with in-seat personal TVs and flight attendant like seat-side service. A little over the top, perhaps, but it was the same price as all the other ones.
Geyikbairi is about 30km outside of Antalya, a large city on the Southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. You can often find budget flights into Antalya’s airport from all over Europe, and you can reach the city by bus from all over Turkey. If you are coming from Kalymnos you will want to catch the ferry to Bodrum (it only runs three times a week in the winter) and then hop on an overnight bus to Antalya.
We took an overnight bus into Antalya from Selcuk and arrived at 5:30am well before daylight. We waited for most of the ticket stalls to open up and then tried to figure out which bus company would take us to Geyikbairi. From what I gathered there used to be a minibus that did the route but it was no longer running.
What resulted was a bit of an ordeal that could be avoided by throwing down about 25€ for a taxi ride, but ever the frugal travelers, we opted for the city bus. Asking around we found out that just outside the inter-city bus terminal is a local bus terminal and that the local bus serves Geyikbayiri.
We walked out of the bus terminal, turned right on the big road and in a little less than a kilometer we found ourselves at another bus stop. Through some creative hand gesturing and scribbling on paper we managed to learn that we needed to take two buses.
The first, number 26, would pick us up from this stop. After this we needed to transfer to the 54 or the 56 which would take us the rest of the way. We got on the 26 and tried our best to communicate that we wanted to get off where we could catch the 54 or 56. We did this by writing “bus 54 bus 56” on a little slip of paper. The driver seemed to get it and we piled in and set off. The first bus was 1 TL per person.
After quite a while the driver told us to get off on a random street corner and wait for the next bus. In just a few minutes the 54 arrived and we were on our way. This bus was 1.50 TL per person. We thought we had it dialed in. A bit bleary eyed from the overnight bus ride we were happy to have figured it out. When I finally saw a sign that said Geyikbayiri 10km I was super excited.
Then the bus just stopped.
Turns out it doesn’t actually go all the way to Geyikbayiri except at 7am and 5pm every day. It was 8:30am. I asked about getting a taxi and some guy at the bus stop said he’d take us for 25 TL. Meanwhile, Kyle had his thumb out and just as I was considering taking the ride, two climbers with an empty back seat stopped and picked us up. They took us right to the Climber’s Garden.
We later learned that hitching on this stretch of road isn’t a problem at all. Generally the very first car that has room will stop for you though at certain times of the day the traffic is pretty scarce. We also learned that the 54 plies the outskirts of Antalya and the 56 takes you into the old town. If you need to get into town the 56 is probably your best bet.
If you aren’t up for the schlep I would recommend taking a cab. Some people also rent cars, but be careful, Turkish gas is obscenely expensive. It is about 2€ per liter! That is (wait for it…) almost $10 US a gallon!!! Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
There are two main places to stay in Geyikbayiri—the Climber’s Garden and JoSiTo. Both offer variations on a similar theme. The main differences are that JoSiTo is a little newer, a little nicer and a little more expensive.
I recommend staying there if your budget allows you to eat in their restaurant. I hear the food is great and the scene is very friendly. If you, like us, are on a tight budget then your best bet will be to rent a tent or pitch your own at the Climber’s Garden. The Climber’s Garden has a big shared kitchen and a cozy hangout room where you can prepare your own food. Both have wifi though Climber’s Garden charges you 5€ per week to use it.
Here’s a picture of our rented tent with nice thick foam mattresses.
Some people also stay in Antalya where options are wider and either bus in or rent a car. When the weather turned on us we thought about couchsurfing in town and busing in, but hosts never materialized on short notice.
Both JoSiTo and Climber’s Garden have restaurants and at Climber’s Garden the shared kitchen allows you to prepare your own meals. JoSiTo lets you rent a camp stove from them for 1€ per day and they have a tiny outdoor sink and fridge where you can keep food so cooking there is also possible, but the facilities are much nicer at Climber’s Garden.
There are a few markets in Akdamlar (where the bus line ends) and generally enough people selling fresh produce. If you really want to stock up you have to go all the way to Antalya on the bus where there are tons of supermarkets.
We weren’t there long enough to get a good sense of a food budget but it seemed good and cheap and the veggies were all super fresh! Everything seemed to be 1 TL per kilogram.
Since we only spent two nights it’s hard to say what an overall budget would be. I will say one thing though, staying in Geyikbayiri seemed a bit pricey to us. Even cooking our own food, the 7€ per person per day to camp, 1€ per person per day to use the kitchen and 5€ weekly wifi fee felt like a lot for what we got.
Considering that it is easy to get a nice room with kitchenette, wifi and a sea-view balcony on Kalymnos for the same price as it is to rent a tent and cook at the Climber’s Garden, we didn’t quite feel it was worth it. You can see our full Kalymnos budget post here.
Climbing and Partners
I wish we had stayed for longer. The climbing looked great, the scene was friendly and it seems like it would be easy to meet up with partners if you show up alone. All of the crags are within easy walking distance and the area is absolutely gorgeous.
We didn’t buy the guidebook because our stay was so short, but I did thumb through it and wasn’t too impressed. The approaches weren’t well described, a dual rating system of UIAA and French scales was confusing and lots of unnecessary information was included (whether the route was equipped top-down or ground-up) in place of useful things like a relative star rating or beta on specific routes.
From what we heard the ratings are also extremely variable, but this is common with a new climbing area. I am sure that as more climbers come and give input and as the guidebook gets updated all of these things will improve.