Butterfly Valley, or Kelebekler Vadisi as it is known in Turkish, is a 4KM long, narrow valley located at the foot of Turkey's Babadağ Mountain opening onto the Mediterranean Sea. It is located about 30KM south of Fethiye and 15KM south of the bustling seaside resort town of Ölüdeniz. The valley is named in recognition of the nearly 100 species of butterflies and moths, including the black, orange and white Jersey Tiger moth native to the area, that can be spotted deep in the valley between June and September.
"Discovered" by hippies in the early 1990s, the isolated Valley of the Butterflies appeals to backpackers, hikers and naturalists. It was designated as a nature preserve in 1995, so construction in Butterfly Valley is not allowed, although there are a few temporary structures including a makeshift bar and restaurant which provide sustenance to the valley's many visitors throughout the summer months, rustic bathroom facilities, and several "bungalows" (small wooden huts) that are available for overnight rental. (During peak season, hundreds of people camp in the valley each night.) There is no electricity, wifi, or telephone service.
The famed Lycian Way runs along the rim of the valley, providing hikers a spectacular view of the Mediterranean-facing canyon from a height of 300 to 400 meters above sea level. In the past, fit and adventurous hikers could attempt to climb down the steep trail linking the village of Faralya to the sea. However, the climb is now forbidden due to several fatalities in recent years. Nowadays, people travel to Butterfly Valley by boat – either via gulet during a Blue Cruise or on a water shuttle or water taxi from the beach at nearby Ölüdeniz.
Weather-permitting, gulets travelling the long stretch of open water between Kalkan and Gemiler Island often stop at the mouth of Butterfly Valley for an early breakfast. (The valley's eastern exposure makes it an uncomfortable and potentially unsafe anchorage for gulets in windy weather.)
Adventure-loving visitors to the valley can swim in the small bay with its sand and pebble beach, climb the steep cliffs overlooking the sea, or (for a nominal fee) hike the trail into the gorge to visit two small waterfalls carrying water from Faralya to the sea. The hike is not particularly long, but requires good walking shoes and a moderate degree of fitness to safely navigate the loose scree and wet rocks along the way. Those seeking a more restful visit can sit in the shade of the fertile valley's many trees, or soak up the sun on the beach.
By mid-morning, boats offering daily tours from Ölüdeniz start to arrive at the entrance to the canyon, disgorging passengers and transforming the quiet pebbled beach into a party zone for 45 minute intervals throughout the day. Unfortunately, the resulting loud noises frighten / disturb the resident butterflies and drive them deep into the valley, so they are rarely seen during peak season except by the most dedicated hikers.
As the day winds down and the last of the visiting boats depart with their passengers, the valley once again becomes a peaceful oasis for those who choose to camp under the stars.