VALLEY OF BUTTERFLIES  <<< back <<<










HISTORY:

            Some ruins of the Lycian settlement called Perdicia, dating back to the fourth century BC, are located just above the Canyon of the Valley of Butteflies, and the name of the village here is named Faralya, which is reminiscent of the ancient times. Presently the village is called Uzunyurt. The culture of gardening on terraces built on slopes by the Byzanthian and subsequent Greek settlers in the area  was adopted by the Turkish immigrants and is still maintained in our day.
            As the valley did not have any visitors until 1960s, the church on the main street and a few other buildings could be viewed by the villages located above. The citrus fruits of huge dimensions, the fig, mastic, carob, mulberry and other trees typical to the Mediterranean climate, and the huge watermelons which could not be carried by one person alone, which were grown in the valley are still recalled. The elderly villagers (some of whom may have passed away) recall the mysterious lady named Despina, who lived in the valley in their youth, and who climbed up the walls of the canyon carrying heavy bags on her back for the purpose of bartering in the villages. Despina was the lady of the one-room house with a fire-place presently used by the camping operators in the valley. She used to sit on the rock along the shore, watching the sun-set while thinking of her relatives who left their homes during the exchange, or her boy friend who set sail and never returned.Then one day she suddenly disappeared and not even her body could be found.
            During the years 1965-1970 an agricultural engineer by the name of Ertuğrul Ekici cut down the huge citrus fruit trees which the villagers described as “thick as a man’s waist”, and which were representative of traditional gardening culture. Doubtless he intended to replace them with fast-growing, productive types more suitable for industrial agriculture. He had irrigation basins and cement pipes built for this purpose. In those days Ölüdeniz could be reached only by a tractor. Therefore the farm in the valley was not tended properly. Thus, only a “ruinous garden” was left behind, devastated by avarice.
            At a later date Rıfat Kılar, a collector and photographer, was greatly impressed by the presence of the butterflies living in the valley, locally called “Güdürümsu”, and renamed the place  “the Valley of Butteflies”. During that period a group of people with nationalistic and conservative tendencies  formed a cooperative and bought the valley to build a private camping site for themselves. However, due to the natural structure, transportaion was almost impossible and they could not achieve their aim. Finally the cooperative decided to sell their land of 22 acres in the valley for five million dollars.
            In 1987 lawyer H. Deniz Bayramoglu, a member of the cooperative, set up a camping site and a resturant in the valley under the name of Butter Valley. His intentions were not directed to tourism. Together with a group of nature-lovers, headed by musician Nezih Topuz, his mission was to protect the valley. Through a concentrated campaign, the group was soon able to attain the attention of the public opinion. They wanted more than the protection of the region by prohibition of constructions; their aim was to establish a center of activities which they named active protection area (comprised of various ideas and moves in harmony with the natural structure).
            As years went by, the valley became renowned and was exposed to detrimental effects of mass tourism. Every year, the camping site and the restaurant was leased by different people at high rentals and, like the ancient trees of the valley, the one-time regular visitors eventually stopped coming here. This developed eventually because the attempts to protect the valley continued at the same time. Actually, the leasors never had a profitable operations here (due to high rents and natural hinderances). On the other hand, the ever-increasing number of visitors to the valley still whets the commercial appetites. 

THROUGH THE EYES OF AN EXPLORER

            It was in 1976 when I first arrived at Ölüdeniz. At that time Ölüdeniz was nothing but a village. In 1978 I saw “the two-tailed pasha” (Charaxes jasius) and was fascinated. Since that date I have been interested in buttefflies. In 1979 my friend Salih Çavus told me that there was a small bay further on where the valley was full of butterflies and we immediately set forth. The valley was covered almost completely by “tiger butterflies” (Euplagia quadripunctaria). With white lines on gleaming black, they really resembled tigers. As they flew, they revealed their lower wings with black dots on brilliant red background, looking as if they had caught fire. There was a colony of butterflies around the waterfall. It looked as if the whole region belonged to the butterflies. That is why the Güdürümsu was renamed as the Valley of Butterflies.
            As a result of observations lasting a long time, it became evident that the Valley of Butteflies did not host only tens of different kinds of butterflies, but also various natural plants of about 100 species and more than twenty different types of grasshoppers and spiders. Among them there were some plants and animals which were good for human health as well as some other which were dangerous to human life.
            During the course of one season, approximately 35-40 species of day-time butterflies (Lepidopterapul-winged) and a similar number of night-time butterflies (moths) live in the Valley of Butterflies. Some species  live out their life-span for a single season while others last for two or three generations (two or three seasons). Furthermore, the largest night butterfly in our country, “the emperor moth” can be seen at the Valley of Butterflies during the month of April.

Source: Rıfat Kıllar

THE VALLEY OF BUTTERFLIES

     The Valley of Butterflies, located on one of the eastern shores of the Belceğiz Gulf, is one of the meeting places of tourists and nature-lovers with its unspoiled natural beauty, the flora, the waterfalls, the rock canyons and the butterflies. The Valley is like an open-air museum where almost all the Mediterranean butterfly species living at sea level can be observed.  This is due to the humidity provided by the existence of waterfalls and about hundred different kinds of plants within the valley. The Valley gets its name from the “tiger butterfly”, one of the most beautiful members of the “Arctiidae” family. This butterfly, known as “Euplagie quadripunctaria” in Latin, forms a wide colony of hundred members during the months of June and October.
            The season lasts throughout 12 months at the Valley of Butterflies, where the dense population is during the months of July and August. The Valley of Butterflies cannot be reached overland. In recent times, in addition to visitors on daily boat tours, it has become a center of attraction for local and foreign tourists, as well as researchers of nature. Furthermore, the valley has become an alternative holiday  center for young pople, especially for students. Building is not allowed within the valley and accommodation is provided by shelters with roofs made of branches and thatches, sheds built on trees, or tents brought along by visitors. It is an ideal spot for those wishing to spend a peaceful holiday in natural surroundings and at a reasonable price. 

Sightseeing:

     You must go to the waterfalls if you wish to see the Tiger Butterflies. Thus you will enjoy two extraordinary sights at once: the magnificence of the waterfalls and the beauty of the butterflies. After a walk of 15-20 minutes inland from the shore, you arrive at the first waterfall. A further walk of 15-20 minutes takes you to the second waterfall if you are careful and brave enough to venture this. Another spot for a visit is the Faralya Village. Turning your back to the sea, if you go along the path on the right, following the route which necessitates some rock-climbing at certain points, you can reach the Faralya Village after a walk of half an hour.  Various scents, especially that of the thyme, accompanies you along the road. If you are lucky, you can come upon some flocks of butterflies taking flight upon your approach. The panorama of the valley from the greenery of the village is really exquisite.

How to go?:

     Go to Ölüdeniz by the Ölüdeniz minibus. The Ölüdeniz minibuses run frequently; you will have no problems in getting on one. You can reach the Valley of Butterflies from Ölüdeniz in a somewhat small boat in half an hour. There is a surprise stop-over on the way: The Blue Cave. If your captain stops here long enough, jump into the sea, enter the cave and enjoy its beauty.
     The boats leave Ölüdeniz every day at 11.00, 14.00 and 18.00 hours for the Valley and return at 08.00, 13.00 and 15.00 hours.

What to take along?:

     You can spend the night by the camp-fire lit along the shore, watching the stars. At present, there is no trace of electricity, telephone, television, building or road at the Valley of the Butterflies. The Valley is a living proof that there can be tourism without these facilities, also that nature is an overall feature which is the most valuable asset. If you wish to stay at the tents or tree-houses of the camping site, the operators provide you with blankets and similar requirements. However, if you take your own tent along, your basic needs are flask, sleeping-bag and blanket. Days are warm at the Valley of Butterflies while it cools off during the night.Therefore, be sure to take along sweaters, socks and trousers.If you are fond of reading, you must bear in mind that all lights are turned off at 22.00 hours at night. Therefore, it is advisable to take a flashlight or a similar gadget along. It is also advisable to have shampoo, towel, soap, slippers, a small spirit lamp and moistening lotion.

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