When the sun is shining but the burning heat has faded, when the air is crisp with the promise of cooler weather, you know it’s time to put on your walking boots and head up to the mountains of the Bozburun Peninsula for a day of hiking.
Honey house in Osmaniye
It’s on one such day that a group of us from the hotel decided to pack an impromptu picnic and go off into the hills. As we set off, we have no plans in mind and decide after piling out of the car, that our first stop should be the cutely named ‘Honey House’ in Osmaniye. We drive the 20 km from our hotel TUI BLUE Grand Azur along winding country roads through the mountains of the Bozburun Peninsula to the Honey Museum. Its aptly designed hexagonal buildings nestle into the hillside overlooking the charming village and is well worth a visit if you’re out for day on the Bozburun peninsula.
It tells the story of local honey production over the centuries and has a fascinating museum which houses artifacts dating back to when honey and its benefits were first discovered several thousand years ago.
Mugla region: hotspot of pine honey
Turkey ranks within the first five honey producing countries in the world and it is the top producer in the World for pine honey.
92% of the world’s pine honey procurement is produced in the Aegean region in Turkey and 8% is produced in Greece. The Muğla area contributes to 75% of pine honey production with 30% coming from Marmaris and the nearby rural areas.
Energy for the hike on the Bozburun Peninsula
After being given a guided tour, we are invited to sample a delicious dish of fresh yoghurt, drizzled with honey and pollen dust. It gives us the extra burst of energy we need for the walk ahead and after saying our goodbyes to the museum guide, we set off down the road, with no idea, nor care, where we are going.
We head off road into the forest along a secluded track and in just a few minutes are surrounded with glorious silence, punctuated only by the sound of bird song and the occasional territorial bleat of mountain goats, as they watch us from a safe distance.
Special delicacies for mushroom lovers
We start to tread carefully, as underfoot, we begin to see the delicate heads of Saffron milk cap mushrooms (known as Çıntar by the locals) poking their way through the earth of the forest floor. These mushrooms are only found in the late autumn and grow abundantly in pine forests. Villagers relish these russet coloured delicacies and for a few short weeks each year, you will see bags of them for sale in the local markets. We don’t trust our mushroom identifying skills entirely, so decide to leave them for the experts to collect.
Turkish picnic for refreshment
After a few more kilometres of walking and with the sun high in the deep, blue sky, we decide it’s time for lunch and set about finding a comfortable spot to stop. We come across an inviting patch of grass, with dappled sunlight filtering through the tall pines and set out our picnic on the ground.
Feeling full, we could have happily spent the rest of the afternoon in this delightfully peaceful place; our mildly aching feet are trying to persuade us to prolong the break; but we resolutely pack up the remains of our lunch and proceed with the walk, deciding we should rejoin the road to continue our journey.
Animal surprises on the hike
In this remote area, along with honey production, the population rely on the land and livestock for a living. It is therefore with no surprise when we suddenly come face to face with a herd of cows and their hardworking owner, walking right down the middle of the road. We stand still and as they amble languorously past, with no hurry in their stride and a complete disregard to our presence, we wave greetings to the ‘cow lady’ and tentatively stroke the fur of the cows as they plod by.
The famous plane tree of Bayır
As the sun begins to slip lower in the sky, we see our destination ahead and it’s with some relief and a sense of achievement that we rest our weary legs at a rickety table and chairs in the open-air tea house which sits in the middle of the tiny village of Bayır.
Made famous by the enormous and ancient plane tree at its centre, this village is now firmly on the tourist map and is visited each year by scores of jeep safaris and other travellers. It is said that by walking three times around the huge tree, your wishes will come true. We are too tired to try this and opt for a refreshing glass of ‘çay’ instead.
Pine honey won’t let us go
Being late autumn, the village is almost deserted. Even so, the market stalls are still filled with jar upon jar of delicious locally produced honey and as the sun casts its golden light over the square, we can not resist and purchase several jars of the glowing amber liquid.
As we drive home, exhausted and happy. We ask each other what we’ll be having for dinner tonight.
“Tea, toast and honey!” we all say in unison!
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