In the Footsteps of the Nomadic Walk - Journal of Nomads

In the Footsteps of the Nomadic Tribes

The Nomadic Walk is a unique cultural event and happens only once a year around the third week of April. The walk is organized by the people of Patara to celebrate the start of the tourist season.
We didn’t really know what to expect from this walk. Would it be a parade with big bells focused on impressing the tourists or would we experience the genuine cultural tradition of this walk? Either way it caught our attention. Being modern-day nomads we had to see if we could connect with the nature of this ‘Nomadic Walk’.

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

The origins of the Nomadic Walk

13 years ago the government decided that there should be a week dedicated to tourism in Turkey. The Turks love celebratory days. For example the 24th of November is Teacher’s day, the 23rd of April is Children’s day and there are many more! But one day to celebrate tourism wasn’t enough so Tourism Week was invented. All the cities, towns and villages were asked to do something to celebrate tourism for 1 day between the 15th and the 22nd of April.

 

The people of Patara decided to organize a walk from Delikemer to Patara where the hikers would follow the old water system which in the Roman times brought water from Islamlar, a small village in the mountains, to Patara. This walk also forms part of the well-known long distance footpath known as the Lycian Way, which many tourists have walked. It seemed an appropriate walk to do in celebration of the type of tourism this area has in the springtime (people on walking holidays).

 

The first few years it was simply a walk with a barbecue lunch provided by the villagers. Then someone had the idea to reenact the cultural traditions of the nomads who lived in this area, the Taurus mountains, and moved between the lowland pastures in the winter months and the mountain pastures in the summer months. To reflect these traditions people dress in traditional nomadic costume and bring their camels, horses, sheep and donkeys to the walk.

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

The walk

When we arrived at the aqueduct of Delikemmer, the starting point of the walk, we noticed straight away that there were more Turks than tourists present. The walk is very popular with the people from the surrounding villages. They dress up for the occasion, bring their whole family along and meet with their friends from other villages. We were greeted by smiling faces and a little group of musicians. They were playing traditional music on drums and flutes and the tone was set for the start of the walk.

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

During the walk I imagined how it must have been for the nomads to move around between the pastures. I could almost sense the emotions from the past. At some point we lost the big group. Niko and I were walking at our own pace, enjoying the view over the mountains and letting our thoughts flow around in our head. The smells of the pine trees kissed our nostrils and we started to feel high. We were in a state of bliss, feeling completely connected with life and nature. People take drugs to get into this state of mind. Go for a long walk in nature instead!

Lunch Time

A good walk in nature also makes you hungry. At the end of the walk we were rewarded with a typical Turkish lunch. Bread, beans, beef stew, rice, salad, porridge,… it definitely satisfied our appetite! But we weren’t the only ones who were hungry. Over 900 people were queuing to receive a plate from the caterers who volunteered to cook for this event. It took the chef, his mother and his wife the whole night to prepare fresh food for this big amount of hungry walkers! Talking about dedication…

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

Folkloric dances & music

After lunch the musicians started playing traditional music. The folk dance group of Patara gathered in a circle and started dancing on the tunes of the music. With their dances they were telling stories of the nomadic culture. It was a fascinating sight! The moving twirling bodies had a hypnotizing effect. More and more people started joining the circle, becoming ecstatic with joy. Everywhere I looked people were laughing, smiling and dancing. The positive and happy energy was contagious and I couldn’t stop my body from moving along the rhythm of the music while trying to shoot steady photos and videos.

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

In the footsteps of Turkish Nomadic Tribes - Journal of Nomads

 

The organizers really succeeded in their intention of keeping the nomadic history alive and combine modern-day tourism with old traditions! It was admirable to see how much effort they had put into making this walk a genuine and fun experience. Patara and the surrounding villages worked together as a real community to organize and gathering the food, the drinks, the animals, the costumes, the musicians and the dancers. We learned that the folk dance groups practiced the whole winter three times a week to learn all the traditional dances.

It was a very special experience to be part of this walk! We enjoyed five blissful hours of walking, dancing, socializing and experiencing the ‘real Turkey’. We’ve learned a lot about the traditions of the nomadic people and definitely felt a connection with them. We might not travel by camel or donkey or share our story through a dance but in the essence we’re the same – seeking ever-changing horizons and exploring new territories, a tribe of nomads.

A couple of weeks ago we had the chance to participate in a unique event; a walk in the Taurus mountains with 800 other people from Patara and the surrounding areas. This hike reenacts the journey of the nomadic tribes who lived in this area and yearly took their cattle from the winter pastures to the summer pastures. Everybody was dressed in traditional clothes, camels walked along and it felt like we were transported a couple hundred years ago. Discover why walking in the footsteps of these nomads was the highlight of our stay in Kalkan.
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Watch the whole experience in this video:

Did you ever participate in a unique event during your travels?

Follow Cynthia - Journal of Nomads:

Writer, travel photographer, Panasonic Lumix Ambassador and co-founder of Journal of Nomads

I have Belgian roots but the world has been my home for the past 8 years. I'm an artist at heart and often get lost in my thoughts. I like to create some-thing out of no-thing and once I feel inspired, I'm unstoppable. I love telling stories and taking photos, showing the beauty and extraordinary of the world around me. Oh, and I love making the impossible elegantly probable. Once you realize that you're a creator and the world is your playfield, there's no limit to what can be done!

51 Responses

  1. BackpackerJ
    | Reply

    Hi Cynthia and Niko!
    I enjoy so much reading about your adventures!
    You are very inspiring and I wish you all the best in your travels!
    Thank you for sharing your Nomadic Walk experience, it’s the first time I heard of that walk, and it’s great witnessing it through your eyes!

    I read your posts, and the humbled way you travel amazes me.

    May I ask please, traveling with just two backpacks, spending many nights in the wild, working hard at some times, how do you keep healthy?
    Like, nutrition, not over-working your body, insect bites, these common things that might happen when traveling “modestly” for so long.

    I’d love to hear your words of wisdom on keeping healthy.

    Thank you again for sharing your fascinating life story!

    All the best!

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Hi J! 🙂
      Thank you so much for your kind words! It’s so nice to hear that you enjoy reading our stories!

      To answer your question on how we are staying healthy: We mainly eat fruit and vegetables, we carry some vitamin C with us and if we have a craving for meat, fish or sometimes chocolate, we try to get our hands on that. If one of us is feeling very tired, we look for a place to pitch up our tent and so we can rest and sleep. We always have one day a week in which we don’t do anything – no traveling, no filming, no blogging. We just sleep or sit or read and enjoy our environment. We haven’t had any bad insect bites so far, just the random itchy mosquito bump. We always check the tent and our shoes in case a spider or other more poisonous creatures are making themselves comfortable in there. Niko grew up in the wilderness and has lots of knowledge on how to treat something with the use of plants. Oh and we drink a lot of water too!

      We feel good and healthy because we always listen to our body and follow our feeling. If something feels good, we do it. If something doesn’t feel right, we don’t. If we start feeling sick, we look out for a cheap hostel so we can have a comfortable night. Oh, and I, Cynthia, often do yoga. There’s a YouTube channel called ‘Yoga with Adriene’ and she’s really good! She has exercises to treat nearly every ache or pain in the body in a natural way and it has done miracles for my lower back and shoulders!

      I hope this answered your question. Where are you for the moment and do you have any tips for us concerning health?

      Take care and happy travels!
      Warm wishes,
      Cynthia & Niko

      • BackpackerJ
        | Reply

        Hi Cynthia and Niko!

        Thanks for the great tips!

        I like your idea of doing nothing once a week.

        I am in Italy, and plan to go to Scandinavia next and explore that region.

        A very important health habit is washing the hands before every meal, and actually whenever you get the opportunity.
        Other than that, eating healthy, and giving the body enough rest, are my main guidelines when it concerns to health.

        Enjoy Turkey!

        • Journal of Nomads
          | Reply

          You’re right about washing the hands. We always do that do whenever it’s possible 🙂

          Enjoy Italy and have a great trip to Scandinavia. It’s apparently stunning there during summer time!

  2. Kids Travel Books
    | Reply

    When I first read this, I was thinking that this was an event steeped in history. Then I realized it was a fairly recent event established for tourist purposes (which isn’t bad imo). But, as I read I saw how it really does embrace local tradition. Which is pretty cool.

    When you asked if we’ve ever had an experience like this I had to think about a walk I experienced in Germany. I moved to Germany in 2010 and the region I was in, which is not a tourist destination, was one of the two European Cultural Capitals of the year. It meant a year of celebrating the local culture. Since this area has a very industrial and coal focused history, the activities planned were interesting. One was known as Still Leben A40 (or A44). Still Leben meaning Still Life. Basically, for one whole day they closed the autobahn (A40 or A44) between, I believe, Dusseldorf and Dortmund. Which is a huge stretch of road. In Germany’s most populated area. One side of the road was dedicated to bikers. One was dedicated to walkers and people reserved benches to use as an impromptu biergarten. We walked a short distance on it (maybe 2 km, the distance from one stop to the next) and I mostly felt that I was just standing in a long line because it was so crowded and, to me, there didn’t seem a purpose more than walking on the autobahn. But people loved it and it was talked about for years. Then this year I found out that this same stretch between Dusseldorf and Dortmund will be home to the first bicycle-only autobahn and I can’t help but think that Still Leben A40 started the whole thing.

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thank you for sharing this experience!! My first thought was if this event didn’t cause any traffic problems because it was held in one of the most populated areas? And I can imagine that if you’re surrounded by so many people that it doesn’t feel as unique. And of course the Germans made space for a biergarten, haha! Being from Belgium, I can already imagine they would do the same over there 🙂 It’s a fun thought that an initiative like this has developed into this bicycly-only autobahn! Hopefully it won’t be too crowded this time to cycle there! 🙂

      • Kids Travel Books
        | Reply

        Yes. It definitely caused traffic problems! But, it was on a Sunday which is a typical rest day and so many people were there that not as many people were driving, I guess? But public transportation was a headache when we wanted to leave to go home.

        • Journal of Nomads
          | Reply

          This reminds us of the time we visited Mont St Michel. We happened to be there during the equinox (which only happens twice a year). It was super crowded and getting the night bus back from the island was madness. People pushing, skipping the queue and trying to get in the already overloaded bus!

  3. Vyjay Rao
    | Reply

    This is a really original experience which would give an opportunity to really imbibe the local culture, of course one would need to brave the crowds.

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      The fun thing was that most of the crowd were local people so it wasn’t too bad and definitely gave it a genuine feeling!

  4. Stephanie Langlet
    | Reply

    Awesome experience! Exactly what I like to be part of, but with less tourists 😉
    To answer your questions, I always participate in unique events when traveling. But two especially come in mind: Bastar Dussehra, the World’s longest Festival (75 days long), that is also a tribal one; Dandari Festival, another tribal festival happening around Diwali, where there’s absolutely no tourists because even locals don’t know it. My Indian friend and I had to go to the village in the middle of the mountains with a three wheelers, and enjoy the celebrations with the tribal villagers. The main people were a group of young dancers wearing peacock feathers hat or a mask, and the drumers from the village and the surrounding ones coming in the middle of the night to play music and dance. About 200 drums playing together in the dark night (the power cut) is an incredible experience.

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Ooh waw Stephanie, what an incredible experience!! How did you find out about the tribal festival if even locals don’t know it? Did one of the villagers told you about it? I would love to be part of an event like that!! The less tourists = the more genuine an experience 🙂 Thank you for sharing this story and beautiful photo!!

      • Stephanie Langlet
        | Reply

        Ah ah, I’m so fond of festival that I’m able to look for information for more than one year. That was the case with Dandari: one day, I saw a publication about this festival. It sound so fascinating that I began to look for practical information on internet: nothing. I asked my Indian network (most of them are reporters or travel bloggers), Indian forums: nothing. I only knew about the state and district. For more than one year, I asked again and again. And one day – miracle – an Indian blogger friend took the time to search for me and found a local reporter. She contacted him and he invited me to come. When I arrived in his town, he took me in his house! I have leaved with the family for 10 days. They took me everywhere, cooked for me, bought me some INdian clothes and jewels (it was Diwali, the Indian Christmas)… And Sinu took me in the villages for the festival. Perseverance is the key…
        Curiosity also as for the other festival, nobody except me communicates about his lenght. I now help the district to develop tourism and I told them they should say it’s the World’s longest festival in their communication…

        • Journal of Nomads
          | Reply

          It’s amazing how things work out, especially when you’re persistent 🙂 When we know more specific dates of when we’ll be in India, I would like to contact you about this. Maybe, hopefully, we would be there at the time of the festival. Or maybe you could get us in touch with local people? We love to film a few small documentaries!

  5. Alexa Williams Meisler
    | Reply

    How long is the walk? Looks like a truly once in a lifetime experience. Love the photos. Love Turkey. Excited to do a bit more research.

  6. Marta
    | Reply

    Great to hear they were able to maintain the cultural element of this tradition: so often events involving dressing up and dancing are just put up for tourists and it is such a shame! Your photos are amazing, I had never heard of the Nomadic walk and now I’d love to experience it

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thanks Marta! We were first also a little worried that it would be a parade for tourists but it was a genuine event and remembrance of the nomadic traditions. If you would ever be in Turkey in the month of April, definitely try to participate this walk!

  7. Lance Kerwin
    | Reply

    Beautiful photos by the way. I have never heard about the Nomadic Walk until reading this post. Thanks for sharing. I would love to go back to Turkey just to experience this event.

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Thank you Kevin. It was definitely one of our highlights here! Turkey is so beautiful and interesting! When did you travel in Turkey?

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thank you Kevin. It was definitely one of our highlights here! Turkey is so beautiful and interesting! When did you travel in Turkey?

  8. Maya
    | Reply

    What a fascinating day this must have been. I feel like I’ve been there through your gorgeous photos!

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Thank you Maya! It was definitely the highlight of our stay in this area!

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thank you Maya! It was definitely the highlight of our stay in this area!

  9. Jenny
    | Reply

    What a wonderful way to spend a day! For an event created relatively recently to celebrate tourism I would’ve expected it to be really artificial and cheesy, but it looks like it wasn’t at all! Your photos are beautiful, and I agree, there’s nothing like a walk in nature to lift my spirits and make me feel great!

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Thank you Jenny! We also expected it to be cheesy but it turned out to be one genuine cultural experience. And yes, nothing beats a long walk in nature. It helps me a lot too!

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thank you Jenny! We also expected it to be cheesy but it turned out to be one genuine cultural experience. And yes, nothing beats a long walk in nature. It helps me a lot too!

  10. Kaara
    | Reply

    LOVE the photos and how they capture the experience <3

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Thank you Kaara! <3

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thank you Kaara! <3

  11. Jey Jetter
    | Reply

    So, interesting! I have never heard of this walk before but it looks like a great experience. Wonderful pictures too!

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Thank you Julia! It’s not a known walk and that made it even more special and genuine. It was indeed a great experience 🙂

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thank you Julia! It’s not a known walk and that made it even more special and genuine. It was indeed a great experience 🙂

  12. Kevan Toombs
    | Reply

    Beautiful photographs. I have hoped to travel to Turkey for quite a while now, and I want to even more after having read your story.

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Thank you Kevan! You should definitely visit Turkey. It gets a lot of negative attention lately in the media but we don’t notice anything of it here. The country is beautiful but especially the people are amazing, they are so hospitable and generous. They’ll warm your heart! 🙂

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thank you Kevan! You should definitely visit Turkey. It gets a lot of negative attention lately in the media but we don’t notice anything of it here. The country is beautiful but especially the people are amazing, they are so hospitable and generous. They’ll warm your heart! 🙂

  13. Derek Cullen
    | Reply

    Sounds such a genuine experience with many locals putting much effort into being involved ! I’ve never heard of this before but would love to take this trip – there are few better ways than walking to see the world around you huh!

    Thanks for the write up !

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Happy you enjoyed it Derek! It’s the best way to experience the world, the country and the culture. One of the reasons why we don’t take an airplane in the coming 5 years 🙂 It was really nice to see how the community worked together to create a wonderful day like this!

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Happy you enjoyed it Derek! It’s the best way to experience the world, the country and the culture. One of the reasons why we don’t take an airplane in the coming 5 years 🙂 It was really nice to see how the community worked together to create a wonderful day like this!

  14. Dominique Lessard
    | Reply

    An authentic Turkish experience… amazing! Must have been an unforgettable day!

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      It definitely is one of the highlights of our time in Turkey so far!

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      It definitely is one of the highlights of our time in Turkey so far!

  15. Erika Bisbocci
    | Reply

    What a unique experience! I’ve never heard of this walk, but it seems like it would give an authentic insight into Turkish folkloric culture and tradition. I love your pictures, too!

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Thank you Erika! This walk isn’t very known at all and that made the experience even more authentic!

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thank you Erika! This walk isn’t very known at all and that made the experience even more authentic!

  16. NowThatsAHoneymoon
    | Reply

    There’s nothing more like experiencing a different culture and perspective. It’s great you got to do these guys! Well done.

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Thank you! We believe this is the best way to experience a country!

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thank you! We believe this is the best way to experience a country!

  17. Brianna
    | Reply

    What a really unique cultural experience! Sounds like a lot of fun 🙂

    • Cynthia Bil
      | Reply

      Thanks Brianna, it was very fun and a very enriching experience!

    • Journal of Nomads
      | Reply

      Thanks Brianna, it was very fun and a very enriching experience!

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