Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes Delta National Park is a park that encompasses an entire stunning peninsula in Kuşadası, right along the Aegean. It’s one of the most biologically diverse parks in the world, with hundreds of species of birds, mammals, plants and aquatic life that live in the park, some of which exist exclusively in this park anywhere in the world. It is internationally protected and of course is immensely important to conservationists the world over.
1- Almost all of Turkish plant-life can thrive here
This park is a great way to get to know the majority of Turkish plant-life. The diverse and varied physical characteristics of the Dilek Peninsula and the Büyük Menderes Delta have led to the fact that a wide variety of forms of vegetation can live in this one location. Over 804 plant species have been identified, 6 of which can only be found here anywhere in the world, and 18 of which can only be found in Turkey. Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes Delta National Park is a nature-lover’s dream, and the best place in Turkey to discover all the natural beauty on offer in this magical country.
2- It’s like an open-air zoo without any cages
One of the 10 rarest marine mammals in the world, the Mediterranean monk seal, lives on the shores of this park. Wild boar, caracal, lynx, the golden jackal, the striped hyena, wild cattle, horses and many other animal species make this park their homes.
There are 256 species of bird who live in the Menderes Delta, many of whom are also exceptionally rare. The pygmy cormorant, the Dalmatian pelican (of which there are only an estimated 3,000-5,000 breeding pairs left in the world), the little egret, the lesser kestrel, and the white-tailed eagle are amongst the rarer and more spectacular birds you’ll find when you visit. But there are so many more animals, including 36 species of mammals, 42 species of reptiles, and 45 species of marine life. Dolphins jump in the sea, sea turtles roam freely, and all variety of marine life is visible from the shoreline. It truly is a paradise for animal lovers.
3- There’s so much to do
Fishing, cycling, picnicking, nature walks, photography, wildlife walks, bird watching, swimming, admiring the scenery, and paragliding are all popular activities that you can do essentially year round from this incredible park.
4- Natural beauty of Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes Delta National Park
Just a taste of some of the things located within the borders of the park to get you intrigued: an Ionian sanctuary dedicated to Poseidon Helikonios and the meeting place of the Ionian League called the Panionium, the Cave of Zeus, the old village of Doğanbey, not to mention the nearby ancient cities of Priene or Miletus.
5- The ancient city of Karina
Karina was a part of one of the 12 Ionian cities from the ancient world, located in the south of the Dilek peninsula. You’ll find the remains of the buildings of parliament which date back to the 7th century AD, as well as other remains of this ancient city.
6- The Panionium
The Panionium was an Ionian sanctuary dedicated to Poseidon Helikonios and the meeting place of the Ionian League and formed part of one of the 12 cities of the Ionian league. This was the site of the Panionia, the religious festival and games and is one of the most sacred spots of all of ancient Greece. Today we see the ancient theater and seating areas for the Panionia as well as the ruins of much of the rest of the city.
7- Doğanbey Village
The village, which is located on the southern tip of the Dilek peninsula and has the characteristic of being the only settlement on the borders of the National Park, is like an open-air museum exhibiting unique examples of Greek and Turkish architecture. While strolling through the narrow streets lined with colorful flowers, plants and lush trees, all the details of what make this such a special place are as clear as can be.
8- The crystal clear sea of Dilek peninsula
There are four pristine coves in the national park, named İçmeler, Aydınlık, Kavaklıburun and Karasu. İçmeler is probably the most well-known, as its sand is the finest and it’s probably the best for families to visit. Aydınlık is great if you want to see some wildlife, and particularly wild boar. Many of them live right around here, hoping to snaffle up grub from friendly picnic-goers. But the coves all have pristine waters that are calm regardless of the season. If you’ve got a boat or take a tour, pass by Güzelçamlı and enjoy the wild horses and waterfowls that’ll be waiting for you.
9- Olukludere Canyon
This is the most important canyon in the national park, and it’s 18 k long. There’s a designated hiking path where you can be one with nature and take a 4-5 hour comfortable hike through the vegetation, streams, waterfalls and overall wonderful landscape of the national park.
10- Last but not least – those amazing sunsets
The park is one of the westernmost tips of Turkey, and the sunsets are amazing.