This sport, big brother of Britain’s small-scale gorge scrambling, entails hair-raising descents down the dramatic canyons which funnel the rains from Turkey’s plateau heights to the sea; it has been described as caving with the roof off. Progress, which can include abseiling as well as scrambling, can be slow; two days and proper preparation are required for the full assisted descent of the magnificent Saklikent Gorge, an inland foray from Fethiye or Kalkan.
Many will be more than satisfied, however, with the family-friendly, 2-hour scramble upstream from the ticket booth at Saklikent’s spectacular entrance. Turn back at the waterfall where further progress requires technical skills and kit. On the way you’ll most likely attract the attentions of a local guide whom you should retain if you want to avoid turning an ankle in one of the deeper pools or for help with the clambering; we gave ours, who doubled as a champion oil wrestler, a £15 tip for his trouble.
The gorge, on account of excessive water volumes, is not generally open to visitors until May; nor, inexcusably, should it have been one day in July 2014 when unseasonable rains caused flash floods leading to multiple injuries and the deaths of two Turkish tourists. It is to be hoped that the authorities have learned their lesson; my advice is on no account enter the gorge if there is the least sign of rain. Arrive early (by 10am) to beat the tour groups, wear swimmers and grippy shoes, and expect to get soaking wet.
When you emerge, avoid the touristy river-side platform cafes by crossing the foot bridge and heading for the quieter ones situated a few hundred metres away by the water channels. These are excellent places for drinks or a lunch of gözleme (flatbread pancake) and salad.