Samsun Dagi National Park
The road south from Kusadasi, heading for Söke, soon turns inland and runs southeast through hilly country. To the right (south) can be seen the most westerly outlier of the Messogis range, Samsum Dagi, known in antiquity as Mount Mykale. Situated between the Menderes depression and the Güzelçamli (Karaova) coastal plain, Samsun Dagi (1,237m/4,060ft) juts out like a peninsula into the Aegean Sea. Thanks to its marble and crystalline schists the ridge, notched by steep valleys, has an abundance of springs and so is covered by relatively lush vegetation. On the inaccessible upper slopes, today virtually uninhabited, are traces of fortifications built to protect the adjacent Strait of Samos, and the remains of monasteries. The peninsuala is now a national park the official name of which is the "Dilek Yarimadasi Milli Parki".VegetationAttempts at farming the peninsula in modern times have almost invariably been thwarted, as a result of which the entire 11,000ha/27,200 acre National Park retains its original vegetation. Dense Mediterranean maquis covers up to 60% of the hillsides, in the midst of which grow stands of holm oak (quercus ilex; up to 10m/33ft in height), an evergreen tree with small smooth edged leathery leaves, with furry undersides and shiny dark green tops, a rarity in the eastern Mediterranean. The remainder is tall forest, with plantains, cypresses, laurels, oleander and maple, but with pinus brutia (brutic pine) flourishing in lower-lying areas and pinus nigra (black pine) higher up.In addition to wild horses and wild boar, porcupines and rock squirrels are among the varied fauna of the Park.