Lake Salda – the ‘Turkish Maldives’!
At first sight, one could be forgiven for thinking you were in the stunning Indian Ocean archipelago that is the Maldives.
However, this little known piece of paradise is Turkey’s very own answer to one of the most photographed tourist destinations in the world (and one that features on the front cover of holiday brochures year after year). Known mainly only to locals and up to now, largely undiscovered by tourists, Lake Salda’s most striking features are its crystal clear waters and the expanse of pristine white sandy beaches on both the northern and southern sides of the lake. Known as the ‘Turkish Maldives’, the lake is located in the Yeşilova district of the Burdur province, around 135 km north-east of Antalya city centre.
Reputedly the cleanest in Turkey and one of the cleanest in all of the world, the lake is 6,800 metres wide, 9,086 metres in length and its 186 metres depth makes its the second deepest lake in Turkey – the fact that there are 301 different underwater and land plant species is testament to the natural purity of the lake and its surroundings.
In 2011, the 12-hectare (29.6 acre) recreational area around Lake Salda was declared a nature park by the Regional Directorate for Nature Conservation and National Parks. As a recognised conservation area, tourism facilities are, at best, very basic – indeed, this lack of facilities is the very reason that this beautiful region remains unspoilt. For those that wish to spend a few days here, there are a couple of simple guest houses in the locality and designated camping sites on both sides of the lake – these sites are fee-paying and offer electricity, drinking water, toilets and showers.
In recent years, the lake has become more well known and publicised by the rise in use of social media and as a result, its star is in the ascendancy. The lake not only attracts people who want to enjoy swimming – it also hosts both cycling and diving tours and photography enthusiasts.
For those that are planning to visit the lake, it would also be worth noting that the region is also the location of the Insuyu cave. At 597 metres in length, Insuyu is one of the world’s longest single structure caves. Upon entering the cave, visitors are greeted by innumerable stalactites and stalagmites that have formed over thousands of years – the humidity is said to be beneficial to those with respiratory problems.
The cave also features 9 underground lakes and it is possible to roam around these in small canoes that are available for hire. Accommodation is available nearby and as the cave is relatively well known, connections to other parts of the south-eastern Mediterranean region are well established.