Saklıkent Gorge, meaning Hidden City Gorge, really is one of those sights place that you just have to see and experience for yourself.
Set in the Saklıkent National Park in southwestern Turkey, the river from the gorge weaves between the borders of the Muğla and Antalya provinces before reaching the Mediterranean Sea at the western edge of Patara Beach.
And no matter how many photos you take of these colossal cliff faces of the canyon, it’s impossible to capture that sheer height and the sounds of the rapids and flowing waters gushing beneath you.
This really is a place of outstanding natural beauty.
But you’re going to appreciate that beauty more if you can time your visit to avoid the crowds.
Saklıkent Gorge (or Saklıkent Canyon) is easily one of the most popular destinations for day trippers in the Mediterranean region of the country.
Saklıkent Gorge – Cliffs & Rapids
Visitors enter Saklıkent Gorge via turnstiles that lead directly under the road bridge, to the canyon entrance and onto raised wooden platforms attached to the rocks.
No matter how many times we walk along here, we can never become blasé about the sights, sounds and feelings that fill your body.
You suddenly become aware of yourself; how tiny and insignificant you are amongst this powerful, extreme statement of nature.
Time Your Visit
If you visit Saklıkent Gorge in high season, you will feel immediate relief from the sun’s scorching rays.
Welcome shade, cool rock faces and spray from the icy cold water below, all work together to cool the body.
However, if you visit Saklıkent Gorge in high season, you will also be sharing the narrow walkway with countless other tourists, many of whom have an uncanny knack of stopping dead, right in front of you to take a photo.
“Our tip for visiting Saklıkent Gorge: Try to visit early or late season. Look at the walkways in the photos. We almost had the gorge to ourselves. If you are visiting in high season, the best time to visit is an early morning visit or an early evening trip!”
Once you reach the end of the walkway, it’s possible to continue trekking through Saklıkent Gorge by wading through the small section of rapids.
This water is forcing itself straight out of the rocks. And trust us when we say it’s freezing!
Health & Safety
These days, there are safety warnings for people who are choosing to troop off through the shallow waters of the rapids and deeper into the canyon.
Their end reward – should they choose to clamber over the big boulders – being a small waterfall.
Signs warn tourists of the potential dangers both of possible tumbling rocks from above and of danger to yourself.
Well, you wouldn’t want to fall into the river now, would you?
The system changes as and when but, for most years, there is rope stretched between either side of the rapids.
You can use this to guide yourself over the rocks and through the water.
And then, you can walk part of the gorge and/or daub the wet clay over your face and body – if you’re that way inclined.
A natural, free mud bath whilst you explore.
The nearest we get to the gorge’s medicinal properties is a bit of cold water hydrotherapy.
Half an hour sitting on a rock allowing freezing, gushing water to pummel his legs and he’d been able to get a good, long practise run in on tired legs before his taper weeks.
These days, the gorge is under the care of Seydikemer Belediyesi (the local council in the area) and they’ve seen fit to allow a handful of kiosks to operate at the end of the walkway.
There are lots of people who either don’t want to walk through the rapids or who just want to sit and enjoy the shade and coolness for a while.
The kiosks do good trade in flavoured slushes and corn on the cob.
And benches and picnic tables are scattered around, both in the water and out, for people to relax.
What To Do Once You’ve Hiked The Gorge
We’ve also had many a really pleasant, chilled moment outside the actual gorge.
So, if you’ve already hiked through the cool water of Saklıkent, what else is there to do in the area?
Relax At Saklıkent
On the opposite side of the river to the gorge entrance turnstiles is a seating area where you can chill for a while.
There’s a makeshift, temporary feel to all of the seating area just outside the entrance to the gorge (a few winters previously, heavy storms washed the whole thing away and this resurrection is the result of that).
But, once you’re sat on the cushions, cold drink in hand, feet in water, life’s good!
In low season, close your eyes and the soothing chorus of the gushing rapids and waterfalls make you feel like you’re the only person there.
High season – well, you might need to work a bit harder to kick your imagination into action – but Saklıkent is still worth the visit, nonetheless.
Go Rafting At Saklıkent
Whilst lolling around on the floor cushions in an almost horizontal position, we’ve watched as a continuous flow of more adventurous types set off down the river as part of the very popular river rafting trips.
Being a lazy spectator is more than enough activity for us on our visits.
There are other activities possible in the area, too. See our FAQs below.
Shop For Homemade Produce At Saklıkent
But one of the main things we love about tourist attractions like this is the local villagers setting up stall in the hope that some of the thousands of visitors will take a shine to their wares.
We’re suckers for a food stall!
If you’re driving to Saklıkent under your own steam from the west, you’ll pass through Kadıköy and Kayadibi village.
Look out for the jars of harnup pekmezi and andız pekmezi and you’ll often be offered a sample.
Harnup is the carob pod that grows all over southern Anatolia and is used to make diabetic chocolate.
The pekmez (molasses) has a rich chocolate flavour – it would be great to add a spoonful to chilli con carne.
The andız pekmezi, neither of us had heard of until we saw it on these stalls.
We’ve looked it up since and andız is a white berry that belongs to the juniper family. Again, it’s prevalent in Southern Anatolia, as is the making of andız pekmezi as a result.
Some stalls will have labels, explaining the apparent health benefits of the goods they are selling.
Dining At Saklıkent Gorge
With the gorge to your left, if you cross the road bridge and continue for a couple of hundred metres or so, you will pass more road stalls and also a handful of roadside restaurants that sit along the water.
More of the artisan products at these road stalls – including kar şerbeti (slush of the homemade variety). And you will also find oodles of plastic shoes for sale – deemed necessary for walking through the gorge.
Again, if you time your visit well, the restaurants here are cooling and peaceful.
You can enjoy a meal along the water’s edge with swinging chairs, fountains and geese for company.
You might even get some goslings if you’re lucky!
Our most recent visit to Saklıkent was an early evening trip and by the time we got to the restaurant, there was only ourselves and one other table of diners. Bliss.
Saklıkent Gorge – FAQs
From Fethiye, it is possible to get to Saklıkent by local dolmuş. Journey time is approximately 45 minutes. The gorge is the last stop for the dolmuş so it’s an easy trip.
If you want to do an organised day trip, you can book these from resorts such as Fethiye, Çalış, Ölüdeniz, Hisarönü, Kalkan and Kaş.
Day trips often also take in Xanthos, Patara Beach, the ruins of Tlos and the nearby Gizlikent Waterfalls. You will be given free time to explore some of these areas.
This trip can also be done by the very popular jeep safari tours.
If you want to avoid the crowds and explore under your own steam, hire a car or a driver. There is lots of space for free parking.
There is a small fee for the entrance to the gorge. In summer 2023, the fee was 23 TL (less than £1) per person.
To avoid the long queues and crowds, we recommend an early morning or late afternoon visit to the gorge. The gorge opens at 9:00 and closes at 19:30.
During the school summer holidays, the site is busy with both domestic and foreign tourists. When religious public holidays such as Kurban Bayramı fall in the summer months, the crowds will be bigger.
Be aware that in early or late season, after heavy rains, the level of water rises and it may not be possible to enter the gorge. Check locally before you set off.
There are lots of stalls selling rubber shoes outside the gorge and inside, too.
However, you will be completely fine wearing sensible submersible shoes that have a decent tread on them. Not flip flops! The rocks are slippery and sizable. The flowing water is forceful.
We recommend shoes with a good tread so that you can easily walk along the canyon after you have crossed the water.
If you intend to take photos or videos inside the gorge, make sure your equipment is in a waterproof bag in case you slip when going through the water.
Also, wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet.
The first part of the gorge is visited by walking along a wooden platform attached to the rockface of the steep cliffs.
This section is suitable for children – including those in small prams / pushchairs during quieter periods. (Just make sure you have someone to help you up and down the few steps at the entrance/exit).
Small children shouldn’t go beyond this area.
For those of you that want an overnight stay at Saklıkent, there are tree houses and camping is also allowed in specific areas.
There is a small selection of accommodation in the hills close to the nearby ancient city of Tlos.
If you want to enjoy the area for longer, there are some great activities for those who enjoy adventure sports.
Horse riding, river rafting, zip wires and giant swings are available in the area around Saklıkent and Gizlikent. This area is also popular with hikers and climbers.