Less than 30 minutes’ drive from Kusadasi Golf & Spa resort is the lovely, protected green space of Dilek National Park – known locally as ‘Milli Park’.
With its protected status, the 28,000 hectare park is a natural haven where wildlife and vegetation are allowed to thrive untouched by the advances of modern commercialism. It’s also a great place to get away from the bustling crowds in the busy town of Kusadasi, and to enjoy the simpler holiday pleasures of a quiet walk in the forested countryside, a family picnic under the clear blue sky or even a swim in the gin-clear Aegean waters.
Indeed, there are many charming coves, bays and beaches waiting to be discovered, with the best for families being Icmeler Bay, which is near to the public entrance and has the only sandy beach to be found anywhere in the park.
While the other bays, especially Kavakli and Karapinar, have equally stunning settings and are perfectly safe for swimming, their beaches tend to consist of pebble and shingle, which are not ideal for younger families but do offer a little more privacy for couples seeking a peaceful day out.
Toilets and shower facilities are available at various locations in the park and, with a choice of cafés, there are also some convenient alternatives to the traditional picnic lunch.
The pine forests and mixed woodland that form the Dilek National Park are set against the azure blue backdrop of the Aegean Sea – with the Greek island of Samos just 2km offshore and dominating the sea views in all directions – all of which makes the park a truly idyllic location for a day spent away from the resort.
Keen walkers will find many easy-to-follow paths and trails – remember to take plenty of water – and there are forest clearings where the park authorities have placed wooden picnic tables and benches for the perfect pit-stop en route. However, given the generally dry conditions in Turkey and the park’s protected status, camp fires and/or barbecues are strictly prohibited.
During your walk, you’ll have a unique opportunity to experience the wide variety of flora and fauna that make Dilek National Park such an important natural resource. As well as the wild pigs that roam the forest – don’t worry, they are not dangerous – there are some 25 other species of birds and mammals, as well as many different species of reptiles and also a wide range of marine animals that make their homes in and around the park.
The park also boasts a rich variety of plant life with hundreds of different native species which means that, at certain times of the year, the entire area is filled with amazing swathes of natural colour as the wild flowers, shrubs and bushes burst into bloom.
Dilek National Park opens to the public every day from 9.00am until 8.00pm – so after a memorable and relaxing day out, you’ll still have plenty of time to get back to the resort for dinner!