The mud baths of Dalyan

by Margaret Hiles

This story is part of our 'Funny Spa Stories' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our travel writing competition.

Photo by Mwanasimba.


A trip to the mud baths at Dalyan in southern Turkey is where you’ll be promised the ultimate spa treatment – imagine being treated like Cleopatra, learning the secrets of eternal youth and beautiful soft skin. What more could a woman ask for, chocolate maybe? No, it’s summer and time to lay bare, express one’s individuality and indulge.

We boarded one of the pretty boats and slowly made our way across the Dalyan River and then meandered down to this sacred place. I asked myself, could this be the source of the elixir of beauty?

The aroma was overpowering; was it a fine blend of precious oils? I don’t think so. The stench of bad eggs hit your nostrils with a punch, a sensation which our tour guide described as the sulphur element of the high mineral content in the water. He assured us, "It’s nothing to be concerned about".

Turning the corner, we had arrived, this little known spa secret had for centuries enriched the lives of wealthy and powerful people. Today, all nationalities, shapes and sizes disrobe to their swimsuits and head for this mystical place - the mud pools.

The treatment commenced and like thousands of beauty aficionados before in search of the elixir of youthful looking skin, I was in search of the ‘secret’. Accordingly, I carefully planned the sacred ritual which I understood had to be followed. I gently tip-toed into the muddy pool to avoid the ultimate splat, carefully grasped handfuls of soft mud and gently spread it over my semi naked body. Oblivious to others, this was ‘Me Time’; selfish indulgence and I was going to enjoy it!

Once the magical mud had been carefully applied, it was time for stage two, the drying phase. The hot sun bore down on me and slowly the silt-like mud dried to a warm plaster colour. Every small movement created a myriad of cracks across my body, never before had I seen skin turn into an elephant’s hide.

It was only now that I looked around to find my fellow travellers had become part of the herd. As a group we had reverted to the time honoured tradition of looking like prehistoric man. I had become ‘Jane’ on a bad hair day.

Finally it was time for the big wash off, splashing around in the murky warm mineral water to remove the caked on mud and reveal the new softer, more beautiful skin.

And this is where the story ends; did I find the elixir of beautiful skin? You’ll have to go and find out for yourself and experience this once in a lifetime spa experience to discover the true meaning of the ‘secret’.

This is certainly one of those beauty experiences to make you laugh and a special photo memory of the funniest spa treatment ever. Enjoy!

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