A boat trip is a must when in Dalyan. Hundreds of boats await passengers in the harbour every day. Smaller boats sail up and down the river as well as to Köyceğiz lake; whilst the larger boats will also take you on a trip out to sea, for example to Ekincik. Amongst these boats in the harbour, one in particular stands out: Summer Garden Botanic Boat. A sturdy barge awash with flowers and plants. I had seen her pass by, but had never sailed on her before. Today however that changed. My friend Maia is a good friend of the owner, Taner, and arranged for us to join him on a voyage out to the lake.
Summer garden is an extension of paradisiacal Dalyan nature
Imagine your typical flower garden, and it’s all there – roses, ivy, marigolds, conifers, lavender, geraniums. But also various edible plants such as strawberries, lemons and mandarins. Not only is it a delight to sit among all this wonderful greenery, but the climbing vine canopy overhead offers nice shade as a little sunlight filters through. I am hooked as soon as we step on board. This is something different, this is not your “average” Dalyan boat trip. All the other local boats tend to look pretty much the same. And it is for this reason that owner Taner Yalılı built and renovated Summer garden. Taner wanted a boat that was an extension of the paradisiacal nature around Dalyan. And if you ask me, he has succeeded.
Summer Garden: a remarkable sight
Taner purchased the sea barge and crafted all its raised beds and frames from scratch. He then proceeded to plant his summer garden, which naturally took a few years to blossom and mature. The result today it is really quite striking. It soon becomes clear that it is impossible to sail unnoticed on Botanic Boat. As other boats go by, passers-by stare, point and take photos. Taner tells me he recently sailed Summer Garden to Göcek at the request of a wealthy yacht owner, who wanted to sail around the area in something a bit different whilst his own yacht was moored in the harbour. Fortunately Summer Garden is not just for the special few; and ordinary folk like you and me are also able to sail on her
Enjoy the view
Our journey begins with tea and coffee on board, as we cast off. With ease and in no hurry, we sail down the Dalyan river towards the lake. It is still tranquil on this beautiful sunny morning in April, and we have the river and lake almost entirely to ourselves. Taner manoeuvers the boat through the shallow end of the lake. As we sail among the floating reeds, a fish occasionally shoots past the boat, or a bird lifts and flies away. Although I have made this trip across the lake many times before, I find sitting amongst the fresh greenery as we sail particularly special. As Summer Garden once again sets off we enjoy the view of the lake and its shoreline.
Chilling at Jimmy’s
We moor at Jimmy’s Beach, a small beach with a campsite on the shore of the lake. This is always a nice place to moor. It is still early in the season and there is nothing much going on. So much the better, we think. Until another boat moors, we have the beach to ourselves. Maia’s cousin Mascha enjoys herself on the swing and has a little paddle in the lake. I wander around for a bit and find a colony of dragonflies. The rest of the group hangs out at a picnic table under the trees. Jimmy’s Beach is a little paradise. As I usually go there in Spring or Autumn, I have never actually seen it busy and it is a wonderful place to chill.
Ten years younger in Sultaniye
On to our next stop: the mud baths of Sultaniye. From the lake we can already see they are pleasantly busy. Most boat trips stop there and the mud baths are a popular health resort for Turks, who stay in small, simple local houses. After all, mud makes you looks ten years younger and if you use the sulphur baths, you will be cured from all possible diseases. I decide I already look young enough and as it makes your swimwear stink of sulphur, I wisely stay away from the baths. Mascha and her mother allow their toes to be nibbled by small fish in the aquarium tanks at the “Dr. Fish” spa. Meanwhile, our Captain Taner takes the opportunity to water the plants on board. After all, that is also necessary! Even if you do not participate in the mud spectacle yourself, it is always nice to moor here during a boat trip and watch the spa ritual.
Another refreshing dip in the lake
As we start making our way back to Dalyan, Taner anchors the boat on the lake en route, for a swim stop. Maia, Mascha and Jana are the true heroines who take the plunge into the water. The water in the lake is still fairly fresh and I don’t mind so much that I don’t have my bikini with me. A bit later in the year however, when it has warmed up, it is truly wonderful to take a refreshing dip in the lake from the side of the boat. Now however I just dip my feet in, which is also nice. When everyone is back on board and dry, we hoist the anchor for our final leg back to Dalyan harbour. There the next passengers await us, eager to spend a few wonderful hours on board Summer Garden Botanic Boat, as we just did. There is no doubt they will enjoy themselves!
Booking a trip with Summer Garden Botanic Boat
If you would like to go on this special trip whilst in Dalyan, simply call or WhatsApp +90-532-6311779. Alternatively visit Summer Garden’s docking place on the river bend just beyond River Terrace and Okyanus restaurants. To find it: from Dalyan harbour, facing the direction of the lake, follow the river bend round. Botanic Boat also has both a Facebook and Instagram page, via which you can request further information or make a reservation. The boat seats a maximum of 15 people, however a smaller number is more comfortable. Discuss your needs, including food and/or drinks, with Taner in advance, and he will be happy to explain the various options and prices.