If you have spent any time in Antalya or habitually peruse Antalya Instagram accounts, you have most likely seen pictures of Köprülü Kanyon Milli Park and its endless opportunities for rafting, kayaking, camping, fishing, and simply breathing in the gloriously clean air and beautiful sights. And all located just about an hour and forty-five-minute drive from Antalya’s city center.
After seeing the hype for over two years, we decided it was time to give Köprülü Kanyon a try. Being plan-ahead kind of people, we asked friends to recommend a rafting company named Ada Insel and were not disappointed with their hospitality or service. Driving into the canyon, we didn’t see much of the Köprüçay River, named for the still operational Roman stone bridge that crosses the awe-inspiring gorge. (Though we did see many companies trying to attract business as we drove by.)
There are dozens of companies in Köprülü Kanyon competing for your business in the canyon, but if smaller, family-run businesses that make you feel like home are your preference, give Ada a call. We had a genuinely fun adventure filled with entertaining and patient guides, a family friendly atmosphere, and delectable grape-leaf wrapped fish that would call us back on its own.
At Ada, children under seven could raft for free but were still charged for a meal and drinks. The price you pay includes all your equipment, insurance, a guide and a ride to and from the start/finish. If you pay extra for the meal, which we hands down recommend at Ada, you will most likely be treated to a çoban salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, onions and parsley), rice pilaf, slices of bread, and either chicken shish kabob or amazing grape-leaf wrapped fish fresh from the Köprüçay. Drinks were not included, but reasonably priced.
The ride down the Class 1 & 2 rapids river is mostly easy, with just a few sections that increase your heart rate and make you want to hold on a little tighter. If you are wondering whether you can take your little ones with you, our youngest adventurer was just barely four years old at the time and had no problems staying in the raft. We started just past the bridge and experienced the most thrilling rapids immediately after starting, which did scare our younger passengers a little. As we continued, they warmed up to the ride and ended up not wanting to finish.
Along the river, there are various stops for swimming, jumping into the swiftly moving river, wading in swimming holes in offshoot creeks, and even a “sandy” beach where you can take a rest. Even in the hottest part of the summer, the water feels like an arctic blast, which was refreshing and shocking at the same time. Our guide said the temperature was 7° C (44.6° F), which sounded about right based on the way it took our breath away and numbed our feet. We can’t even begin to imagine how cold the water would be earlier in the summer, so keep that in mind when you make your plans.
Another thing of note – rafting guides encourage passengers to make “fire” by splashing water with your paddles onto rafters passing by, which means even if you don’t get in the water you will most likely get drenched. Some rafters even bring big buckets to fill up and throw on people! It is all in good fun, but even the little passengers on our raft did not keep us safe from attack.
More tips and info:
- Go early or during the week. We arrived at 10:30 and started rafting about 45 minutes later. When we started, the river was not that busy, but by the time we ended, it was jam packed and full of “fire.”
- You will be issued a helmet and a life jacket but bring a change of clothes and some water shoes or old tennis shoes you don’t mind getting wet.
- You can search online for other companies, but it is possible to find a company as you arrive. Just be sure to agree on a fair price in advance.
- Most companies will allow children over the age of three (we have heard of some allowing two-year-olds on the rapids) but be sure to ask before going. For children younger than two or three, you can ask for a shorter tour that avoids the rapids but expect to pay about the same price for a much shorter ride.
- Bring your camera or phone. Ada gave us a big plastic jug to put our phones and keys in if we wanted to take them along, but they also offered some waterproof bags that could be purchased for a price. We chose the jug, and it worked just fine. Because of the opportunities to stop throughout the trip, we were grateful to have our phone with us.
- If you begin just past the bridge, there is a long, steep stone staircase to climb down into the gorge before getting to the starting point.
- Pay the extra money for the meal or bring food to eat. When you are finished, you will be famished, and the only restaurants around are the ones that belong to the rafting companies.
- Because we were passing the business, we were offered the choice of stopping halfway into our trip to eat. We chose to wait until we were done, which ended up being much later than we anticipated. Our group was starving by the time we came back. Depending on where your rafting company is located, this might not be an issue.
If rafting is not on your itinerary you can still enjoy the majestic beauty of Köprülü Kanyon Milli Park. It is the perfect place to hike, picnic, fish, or just find a place to rest by the river and enjoy the rafters floating by on a summer day.
Location: Bozyaka, 07550 Manavgat/Antalya
Directions: Drive east on D-400 and turn north after passing through Serik on D-687. Follow the signs from there. Alternatively, tour companies can arrange the entire excursion for you.
Ada Insel Rafting Company: 0533 224 7866
Fees: Average price for a 2.5-4-hour rafting journey: 80TL per person without a meal or 120TL per person with a meal. Group rates may be available if reservations are made in advance. (August 2020)