Ranch Stay programme, Kaya Valley Ride, Summer 2007
I was met at the airport by Peter. The drive gave me the chance to acclimatise myself to the weather and it was great to watch the changing scenery. The holiday truly begins on the drive to the ranch, as we went past ancient tombs carved out in the mountainside and then started our descent into the Kaya Valley and I had my first glimpse of the “Ghost Town”.
I was not sure what to expect out of the holiday. I just wanted to go “somewhere different” and warm and where being a single traveller would not be a problem.
The ranch is sympathetically designed so as to fit into the local surroundings and with the local homes. The accommodation was comfortable and each room had en-suite facilities, fridge and kettle. The hosts made sure there was plenty of tea and coffee and biscuits to keep the tired rider happy. The accommodation also had satellite TV, DVD, seating area and a kitchen with washing machine. (I loved the fact that you could put your washing on the line at sunset and it would dry overnight ready for the next morning!).
The hosts truly made me feel very welcome and I did not feel at all awkward about being on my own. Most days were a mixture of lessons given by Norma and then a trek out, the order depending on the weather and whatever else was on offer that day. I really feel that the lessons I had in Turkey have improved my riding no end and Norma gave me loads more confidence in how I ride, especially since I haven’t had a riding lesson for about 22 years! The format of each lesson depends on what you want to get out of them, so as well as improving my general riding, I also had a few jumping lessons and lessons on how to do a show class.
The horses were great and really well looked after and well behaved. I am in no way saying the they were slow, as a number of them are forward-going but I am saying that none of their mounts will charge off, which was a great confidence giver to me and let me concentrate on my technique. I had the opportunity to ride the same horse for my entire holiday, but riding different horses helped with my confidence. I admit to falling in love with Sigo who managed to make me look like I knew what I was doing in the sand school!!
What was really helpful was that Peter took a video of a couple of my lessons so we could go over them and analyse them later and I had a souvenir to take home.
Norma’s cooking was great and incorporated Turkish cookery. On a couple of evenings, we visited local restaurants and I can recommend the tandoor lamb. All meals were included and there was always a substantial helping, which was very welcome after a day in the saddle! Meals were taken in a covered area outside the accommodation where you could discuss the day’s riding and listen to the Cicadas and the call to prayer from the nearby minarets.
If you want something more lively, the nearby town has bars and clubs and shops or there were the local valley bars which were quieter but no less exciting.
What made it really great for me was that, on the second week of my holiday, I was the only guest but Norma and Peter made me feel like one of the family and came with me on outings, like when Norma took me to Fethiye for the Tuesday market and we had a great afternoon shopping or when Peter drove the three of us to Saklikent to see the Gorge and Yukka Park for a late lunch. I went on a boat trip where you spend the day visiting a number of bays, with lunch included which was a good time to relax and do a little sunbathing.
The locals were so friendly. I did try to learn a few words of Turkish which the locals appreciate but most understand English.
The great thing about this holiday is that you get a great mix: riding lessons and treks; bustling towns with bars and shops; local people and customs, the mountains and valley and the beach and you can do as much or as little as you want.
It’s not the kind of holiday if you expect to go for long gallops because of the terrain but the scenery and the friendly hosts makes up for that and I’m already saving to go back next year for longer!
I say go along to the ranch at Kaya Valley and see Norma and Peter and judge for yourselves.
Read more about this ride here: Kaya Valley Ride