With the first warm days of spring, in villages all
over Turkey, families begin to think about moving to their summer
residences on the cool summer pastures called yaylas. The yayla, or
meadow, high in the mountains, provides a different pace of life during
the hot months and insures sufficient grazing for the herds of sheep,
goats and cattle. The migration from winter village to summer encampment
is a legacy from the days when Anatolia was populated by nomadic and
semi-nomadic people. Although the yayla's importance as a refuge from
mosquitoes and malaria is no longer relevant, the annual migration still
secures new food sources for the animals, and offers villagers relief
from the sweltering heat of the lowlands and coastal areas.
Everything required for the summer must be carried to the yayla and
this make enthusiastic and exhaustive preparations necessary. Clothes,
tents, furniture, cooking equipment and bedding are all packed and
loaded into cars and trucks for the long drive to the often remote
location. Herds of cattle, sheep and goats make the slow trek on foot
guided by boys and young men. Season after season, each village moves to
its own particular pasture land.
After reaching the yayla the convoys disperse, with the families
setting up their own tents. In some areas, in the Black Sea Region for
instance, the summer settlements are made of permanent structures with
each family moving into their own wooden chalet year after year. Once
everything has been arranged, the villagers adapt quickly to the
different pace of life during summer in the yayla.
The whole family wakes up at first light. The men early with the
herds, while the women attend to such domestic chores as preparing meals,
making cheese and gathering plants for dyeing wool. The children help
out in all the activities on the yayla. After the women have milked the
animals, it is time to turn the milk into yogurt and butter.
When the men and boys return in the afternoon, the families gather to
enjoy their main meal, often comprised of hot cracked-wheat based dishes
accompanied by ayran, a delicious drink of salted yogurt diluted with
water, as they relate the day's activities. In the evenings the yayla
comes to life in spontaneous gathering to sing traditional songs, enjoy
folk music and dance, and recount hilarious jokes and long stories. The
attraction of the quality of life on the yayla is so rooted in village
life, that even those who do not earn their living from farming make the
Today, the encroachment of modern life on the yaylas is carefully
monitored so that the essential character of this way of life is
preserved. The permanent housing, that is gradually replacing the black
goat hair tents, is designed to blend in harmoniously with the natural
environment, while offering the conveniences of modern life. In some
yaylas louses with kitchens, toilets, water and electricity stand next
to a wide expanse of black tents. The arrival of shops stocked with
provisions and other necessities means that it is no longer necessary to
bring all the food stuff from town. The construction of new roads makes
the journey to these remote locations much shorter and less arduous than
in former days. Indeed, public transportation services are available on
some of the more accessible summer plateaux.
Time spent on the yayla is particularly suited to a
holiday of relaxation and the enjoyment of nature. You wake up each
morning startled at the tranquility and heart-stopping splendor of the
surrounding landscapes. Whatever your interest - butterflies, wild
flowers, birds or other animals - leisurely walks in the rolling meadows
and through the pine forests will provide a welcome change from city
life. In surroundings free from the harsh glare of urban lights, night
watching and star-gazing take on new meaning.
For those who want a more active holiday than strolling through
tranquil pastures and capturing magnificent views on camera, the yaylas
can offer more energetic activities. You could try grass skiing on the
vast meadows, trekking or mountain-climbing. In some areas white-water
rafting is possible.
After exerting yourself to the desired degree, you can enjoy the
simple but exquisite fare of yayla meals. Fresh milk, cheese, honey,
butter, bread, hot yogurt soup, nourishing stews and wheat dishes
satisfy even the most sophisticated palate. In the evening you too can
settle down to the community and friendship of an open fire, songs and
BLACK SEA REGION
The Black Sea Region offers a wealth of summer
encampments in the lush mountains which ring the coast and is a superb
destination for those interested in the extraordinary variety of
wildlife in Turkey. It is almost commonplace to see eagles, falcons,
hawks, woodcocks, weasels, rabbits, squirrels, pine martens, wild goats,
mountain goats, foxes and even wolves, wild boars and bears. Naturalists
will be impressed with the diversity of vegetation: fir, spruce, cedar,
beech, oak, lime, hazelnut as well as other species forest the
The Yaylas of Sinop
The Guzfindik-Bozarmut Yayla lies 35 km southwest of the village of
Yenikent at an altitude of 1350 meters. A dirt road from the coast leads
you up to the idyllic plateau. Arrangements can be made for one of the
vehicles at Gerze which transport villagers to the remote summer camps.
Good asphalt roads make the journey to the Türkeli Kurugöl Yayla a
pleasant one. In the Türkeli district at an altitude of 800 meters,
some degree of modern comfort has reached the yayla with the arrival of
The Yaylas of Ordu
The Persembe Yayla, at 1350 meters, is 124 km away from the coastal
town of Ordu and can be reached on asphalt roads. Conveniences include
electricity, PTT services as well as shops for provisions. In July the
summer residents host a local fair with folk dancing, exhibitions and a
wrestling contest. This is a superb occasion to sample the flavor of
Fifty-eight kilometers south of Ordu province, at 1250 meters, the Çambasì
Yayla provides the visitor with shops, guest-houses and, in case of
emergency, mobile health care units. After following a paved road for 21
km, you turn off onto a dirt road for the final 37 kilometers.
Within the Igdir forest, 134 km from Ordu and 20 km from the town of
Mesudiye, the Ordu-Keyfalan Yayla lies at an altitude of 2000 meters,
and transportation is provided by dolmus (shared taxi) in summer.
A shopping center run by the forest management department ensures
that visitors can obtain, in this remote location, all the necessary
provisions. Electricity and a rest house with 12 beds are also available.
The Akkus Argin Yayla is also located in the Ordu province.
The Yaylas of Giresun
The Bektas Yayla, 58 km away from Giresun and at an altitude of 2000
meters, offers a two star hotel as well as a shopping center.
In order to reach the Kümbet Yayla follow the 30 kilometer asphalt
road to Dereli from where a dirt road continues for 22 km. The yayla
which stretches across high pasture land at an altitude of 1640 meters
has a small lodge with 10 beds, shops and a health clinic. Every year on
the second Sunday in July, the villagers hold their summer festivities.
Facilities for tourists are being prepared in other nearby summer
pastures including the Yavuz-Kemal, the Sis Dagì, the Alucra town's
Anastos, the Yaglìdere town's Cakrak, the Melikli valley and the
The Yaylas of Trabzon
Lying at 1700 meters the Macka-Solma Yayla is 50 km from Trabzon and
22 km away from the town of Macka. Commercial vehicles provide
transportation to this remarkable location. Electricity, telephone and
shops are all available on the yayla.
Twenty-four kilometers south of Tonya, the Erikbeli Yayla is situated
at an altitude of 1800 meters. Commercial vehicles can take you to the
green pastures which are nestled in the mountains that ring the Black
Sea. Electricity, telephone and shops ensure your comfort while visiting.
To reach the Karadag Yayla follow the road between Akçaabat on the
Black Sea Coast and the inland village of Düzköy for 12 km and then
turn west on a dirt road for 28 km. Transportation by commercial
vehicles is also available as are the modern conveniences of electricity,
telephone and shops.
At 1250 meters in elevation, Çaykara-Uzungöl, a small summer
encampment 20 km from the town of Çaykara, is known for its beautiful
meadows and magnificent landscapes. A pristine lake, in which fish are
farmed, lies surrounded by verdant mountainside, and the are offers
excellent opportunities for trekking. Tourist facilities include a
modest lodge with 55 beds, wooden bungalows, restaurants, electricity,
PTT services and a health clinic. Excursions to Uzungöl by taxi can be
arranged from Trabzon.
The following yaylas - Hidirnebi, Kuruçam, Maçka-Mavura, Maçka-Çakirgöl,
Kiraz, Lapazan, Sazalani, Sis Dagi, Kadirga, Çatma Obasi, Düzköy -
are also found in this region and offer a fascinating glimpse of
traditional Black Sea Region culture.
The Yaylas of Rize
The Ayder Yayla, 17 km from Çamlihemsin, rests at an altitude of
1350 meters. Electricity, PTT services, a health clinic, many pensions
and shops ensure a comfortable visit. The naturally hot (50 C) waters of
the local thermal spring provide added relaxation, and cure various
Twenty-two kilometers from Çamlihemsin at an altitude of 2300 meters
is the Yukari Kavron Tourism Center.
The world famous Anzer honey, said to have medicinal properties,
comes from apiaries in the meadows around the Anzer Tourism Center.
Lying 76 km from the city of Rize at an altitude of 3000 meters, the
area includes such modern facilities as electricity, PTT services and
The Yaylas of Artvin
Artvin province offers those looking for adventure and sport a wide
variety of activities. White-water rafting, hunting and rock climbing
are among the recreational possibilities in this northeast corner of
Every year during the third week of June tourists from all over the
world as well as the local inhabitants congregate at the Kafkasör
festival to watch bull fights, folklore displays and wrestling
competitions. Crowds of brightly clad yayla residents thrill to watch
pairs of bulls battle each other in a show of strength. At an altitude
of 1560 meters, these summer pastures lie nine kilometers from Artvin
and can be reached by bus from town. A well-established tourist
attraction, the tourism center offers electricity, PTT services as well
as 22 bungalows with 80 beds.
Fifty-three kilometers from Yusufeli at an elevation of 3200 meters
is the Yusufeli-Kaçkar Tourism Center - Yaylalar Village. A narrow,
winding road leads to the village which boasts electricity, PTT services
and water as well as overnight accommodation and shops. A nine kilometer
walk takes you to a wide expanse of meadows and forests high in the Kaçkar
mountains. This is an ideal location for hunting as well as mountain
climbing and high plateau tourism.
Those wishing to climb to the summit of Kaçkar Mountain can
replenish their supplies at the Yaylalar village and hire mules to go up
to the 3328 meter high Dilber Düzü. This camping site offers the
closest lodging to the summit. If you wish to attempt an ascent, be sure
you hire a guide to lead you. Many wild animals such as lynx, bear, ibex,
wolf, fox and jackal can be seen in the region.
The Ardanuç-Bilbilan, Sahara and Mersivan yaylas in the Artvin
province are planned to be opened up for tourism.
The Gümüshane Yaylasì
On the road between Trabzon and Bayburt, 4 km east of the Zigana
Tunnel, the longest in Turkey, is the Zigana Yayla. At an altitude of
2032 meters, the yayla is equipped with lodgings, electricity, water and
communication system. In the winter the area boasts the Zigana ski
Other yaylas in the province include Altintaslar and Çam Piknik.
The Yaylas of Bayburt
Forty kilometers southeast of Bayburt on the Askale road at an
altitude of 2918 meters is the Kop Mountain Yayla. Buses from Bayburt
pass by the yayla, but if you want to linger in the clear cool summer
breezes you should come prepared with sleeping bags and provisions.
The Yaylas of Turkey's southern coast lie high in the
Taurus Mountains. Providing refuge from the intense summer heat and
ample grazing for the domestic animals, these pastures and meadows are
rich in the variety of both vegetation and wildlife.
The Yaylas of Antalya
The Finike-Ördübek Yayla lies at an altitude of 1100 meters and is
reached after 41 km of forest routes and six kilometers of mountain
routes. Although the yayla has a wealth of flora, it lacks touristic
infrastructure and visitors should bring their own equipment and
The Serik-Nanali and Ovacik Yaylas, north of Antalya, at 800-1000
meters in altitude, can be reached by two different routes which both
combine asphalt surfaces, dirt roads and trekking. There are not tourist
facilities at the elevated pasture lands but those who accomplish the
journey are well rewarded with a splendid view.
The Antalya province also includes the Beskonak, Selvenin Görde,
Dereköy, Dönme, Üçoluk, Pisar, Ibradi yaylas.
The Yaylas of Içel
The Mersin-Gözne Yayla, only 28 km from the provincial capital, has
facilities which include a health clinic, electricity, water and shops,
as well as lodging rooms.
Similarly, the Mersin-Mihrican Yayla, which lies 50 km from Mersin
provides the same full range of conveniences.
Fifty kilometers along the road from Mersin to Konya, at an altitude
of 1500 meters, the Mut-Sertavul Yayla boasts a complete touristic
The Namrun (Çamlìyayla)- Sebil Yayla at an elevation of 1300 meters
offers electricity, water, shops and lodgings.
Other yaylas include the Tarsus-Gölek, Mut-Kozlar, Mersin-Ayvagedigi,
Mersin-Bekiralani, Kas, Abanoz and Akpinar yaylas.
The Yaylas of Adana
The great agricultural plain surrounding Adana is the breadbasket of
Turkey, a fertile region heavily cultivated with fields, gardens and
orchards. The intense summer heat, however, makes it essential for
farmers with sheep, cattle and goats to move their herds to the higher
elevations for cool temperatures and fresh grazings. Around 300 yaylas,
of different sizes, dot the mountain plateau in the region of Adana, and
here you can observe the traditional summer migration as well as escape
from the heat of the Çukurova plain.
A good paved road stretches all the way to the Tozan-Horzum Yayla, 22
km from the town of Kozan. Fast developments in construction have given
this summer encampment a town-like aspect. It has electricity, telephone
and a health clinic as well as fully stocked shops.
Only seven kilometers from Pozanti, the Pozanti-Tekir Yayla lies just
off the e-90 highway making it very accessible to tourists. Organized
bus excursions tour the area and most of the infrastructure necessary
for tourism has been established. Projects are underway to develop the
are for mountain sports; economic revitalization is also seen in the
recently established wild goat farm.
Both the Zorkun and Olukbasi Yaylas lie in the area surrounding the
town of Osmaniye. The Olukbasi yayla is 16 km out of town and the Zorkun
lies 26 km southeast, and any type of vehicle can provide the
transportation. Both yaylas are equipped with electricity and a
telephone service, and the Zorkun Yayla also houses a health clinic.
Well-tended and abundant vegetable gardens provide a change of scene
from the tranquil beauty of the surrounding forest and the numerous
streams and natural springs.
The Feke-Indere Yayla lies high in the mountains 59 km from the town
of Feke at an elevation of 1500 meters. A stabilized road leads you to
the encampment which is provided with electricity, telephone and a
The 27 km journey from Karaisali on a mostly unpaved road takes you
to the Karaisali-Kizildag Yayla and the neighboring Ardiçolugu Yayla,
plateaux of splendid natural beauty. Electricity and telephones are the
modern conveniences available.
Among the 300 yaylas in the province of Adana are the Aladag-Agcakise,
Baspinar, Bici-Kosurga, Kadirli, Armutoglu, Tufanbeyli, Körebeli,
Obruk, Kozan-Çulluusagi village, Saimbeyli-Çatak, Aladag village and
The Yaylas of Hatay
An eight kilometer asphalt road from the town of Belen brings you to
the Güzel Yayla (Sogukoluk); four kilometers farther is the Nergizlik
Yayla. Facilities important for visitors include electricity, telephones
and shops. Minibuses travel the paved road that stretches from Antakya
to the Samandagi-Teknepinar Yayla where electricity, telephones and
shops are available .
The Dörtyol-Çökek Yayla lies only eight kilometers from the
coastal town of Dörtyol on the Gulf of Iskenderun. A stabilized road
brings you to the summer retreat which is furnished with electricity,
telephones and a water supply, as well as shops.
Another stabilized road takes you to the Dörtyol-Topaktas Yayla. 16
km from Dörtyol. This provides an excellent base for trekking
excursions. Shops where one can buy provisions for such excursions, as
well as the modern conveniences of electricity, telephone, and a water
supply are available.
The Yaylas of Gaziantep
Thirty kilometers from Gaziantep, the Sof Mountain Yayla is reached
via a stabilized road. Although the yayla has electricity, water and PTT