Turkish delight: the Koprulu Canyon
ByI am standing on the steep clifftop - feet dangerously close to the edge - completely captivated by Antalya’s Koprulu Canyon. Below me stands the sandy, jagged cliff face, the jade green shrubs which adorn it and the vivid, celestial rapids of the Kopru river which twist and wind into the horizon.
Soon enough I will be fully submerged in this tortuous, tumultuous river and embarking on a thrilling raft journey through the dramatic landscape. After crawling over strewn rocks and boulders, the adventure finally begins.
It’s an incredibly bumpy ride back down to the rafting station. The rusty jeep gawkily charges across the rubble, passing locals who are having picnics in the middle of the dirt tracks in the scorching heat. Just as we think we have reached our destination the jeep thunders through a shallow dip in the river. This almighty splash is the first of many to come.
Situated ninety-six kilometres north east of Antalya, we are deep in the rural Turkish mountains and the urban energy of the city feels like a distant memory. The canyon stretches for eight miles along the Kopru River and is one of the most stunning wonders of nature. Armed with a plastic oar, a helmet and a life jacket, we board the raft and are abruptly thrust into the same perilous waters we had been gazing at a short while ago. Our tour guide says that the water comes straight from the mountains, so it is fresh and safe to drink, yet this also delivers water at a bone-chilling five degrees Celsius. The bitter, stinging water nibbles at my feet. Tossing and tumbling across the river, the raft races across the rapids. As we reach the top of the waterfall - water spraying violently into our faces - we are swiftly launched into the air before plummeting downwards, creating a momentous, icy splash. We all erupt into excited screams as the freezing avalanche drenches us, temporarily stunning us with the numbing cold.
The aggressive waves subside, and we are left peacefully drifting on the meandering river through this valley of wild beauty. As our paddles slowly push us along, we take in the dramatic Mediterranean landscape. Above us, the prodigious, rugged mountains stand like natural skyscrapers, embellished by the luminous scarlet flowers and flourishing leaves of the bushes and shrubs. The clear water shimmers in the beaming sunlight like a treasure trove of vibrant sapphires. This scenic journey looks as if it was plucked straight from an illustration in a fantasy book.
On the banks of the river, we see a small congregation of goats bleating to say hello. As we sail past, we watch them effortlessly scaling the rocky boulders. Another raft on the river passes us by and rudely grab their oars and begin to vigorously splash us with the freezing water; furious - we retaliate.
Traces of ancient Roman ruins jut out from the bank as we paddle under the ancient Oluk bridge which is built 27 metres above the canyon. We are told that this bridge dates back to the second century AD. These remarkable elements of history weaving seamlessly into the voyage make this adventure an enchanting experience.
We reach a still area of the water. Our raft leader gives us the all clear to get in. Despite knowing the temperature, I take the plunge. The water is so astoundingly cold that I feel instant regret as the temperature shocks me senseless, yet I know that when I clumsily clamber back onto the raft the warm Turkish sun will soon revive me.
After we have drifted through the glistening, clear waters, relishing the Mediterranean warmth, the raft leader allows us to climb to the top of a large rocky outcrop on the bank and jump into the water. My heart sinks; I’m terrified but I reluctantly push myself to do it. The nerves jitter in my chest as I look down past my feet and see the drop below. I close my eyes. My heart pounds in my ears. I jump. When I resurface and scramble back to the retreat of the sandy bank, the roasting heat helps me quickly recover from the icy plunge.
Turkey truly is a delight: you can experience the bucolic charm of the idyllic villages, the phenomenal adventures of the rapids or the serenity of seafront strolls. The myriad of enchantments from this magical place seems endless.
By Evie Swan, Year 12