Unbelievably, Karain Cave was utilized from 500,000 BP (before the present) to the 4th century AD and in it was discovered very rare Neanderthal remains. And when we slipped away to explore, a winter fog hugged the slopes of the West Taurus Mountains. Just a 40-minute drive northwest of Konyaaltı to the olive grove studded Yağca Village sits the Karain.
Railroad tie and stone stairs, all 471 of them, guide you up the hillside. Barely a stitch of shade could be found the whole way, but benches on the side allow for a rest. Some visitors may need a steadying hand as the handrails are unstable in places.
As you enter, a smooth, damp rock leads to a metal walkway over ongoing excavation that began in 1946. Small rooms jut off the sides of a larger cavern, one of seven, are well lit for curious spelunkers of all ages. A steep and slippery descent to the right leads to an open cavern with more small openings. Once inside this lower cavern, a squeaking noise reverberated off the calcite walls. We looked up to see a good-sized bat circling the ceiling. We scurried out, not wanting to make friends with him and a gang of his siblings.
Back out of the cave, to the left of the entrance was a small set of stairs leading to an overlook and a couple of small caves that sparked our imagination for the early inhabitants’ lives. Relics of life from the agricultural and pre-agricultural periods as well as insight into the hunter-gathering lifestyle of human history has been unearthed within the Karain. If time allows, consider planning a same day visit to the Antalya Museum to more fully appreciate the archeological significance of this cave.
Wear sturdy shoes with a good grip so you can easily take a look around. And the more adventurous you (or any children in tow) are, the less attached to clothes remaining clean you should be. Take care not to damage the cave surfaces or leave any trash behind. On-site facilities include free parking, a very small snack stand, and serviceable men’s and women’s restrooms.
On our drive to the cave, we followed the brown road signs pointing the way, but upon our return, we followed our GPS. The travel times were similar, but we preferred the route provided by GPS that utilized the highway rather than the signage that took us through Döşemealtı.
As we departed, the warm sun burned off the remaining cloud cover. A herd of goats and their shepherdess saw us on our way back to town. What a way to spend an hour or two!
Location: Yağca, 07190 Antalya Merkez/Antalya
Hours*: 1 April – 1 October: 10:00 – 17:00; 1 October – 1 April: 8:30 – 17:30; (Gates closes 1 hour before site in summer; Gates close 30 minutes before site in winter)
Days**: Closed weekends.
Entrance Fee: 10TL or Free with Museum Pass (Feb 2021)
*Due to the sheer number of steps, we discourage rainy or peak–heat weather days for a visit.
**Be sure to check for current opening days because information online varies.