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The Plateus in Turkey
 

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 yearly pilgrimage.

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.

TOURISM ON YAYLA

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 long tales.

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 mountainsides.

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 electricity.

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 local customs.

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 Hanalanì yaylas.

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 diseases.

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 shops.

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 Turkey.

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 center.

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 MEDITERRANEAN REGION

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 provisions.

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 infrastructure.

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 health clinic.

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 Meydan yaylas.

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

Trekking: The way to Embrace Nature

This is a special way to dissipate the stress of everyday life. All you need to trek on mountain trails is a track suit and walking boots. Trekking is a hugely popular outdoor activity among city dwellers because it provides a break from the city and an opportunity of fresh air and intimate embrace with nature.An experience like trekking in the mountains will surely keep your senses alert....

In essence trekking encompasses taking a long walk in the wild. Trekking is physically demanding but will make you feel alive and at one with nature. Your senses will change as you learn to read the weather and the terrain, even time itself will seem to alter its shape. Your day is not planned or governed by the clock but by the sun, moon and weather. After a hard days trekking you will learn from the sun and shadows as to what time to set camp or take shelter for the night. This form of activity has gained a popular platform in Turkey for 5 years and every year more people from all professions and age groups decide to trek at weekends. The main reason why this sport is so popular is the increase in working lot in the recent years. This increase makes it more difficult to take a long break and short weekend escapes are preferred instead. The rise of interest in trekking is reflected by the many options travel agencies offer in trekking tours. Only in Istanbul 25 agencies specializing in trekking have opened.

Some of the trekkers took their love for this sport and nature even further and started to exercise other sports. Some strated mountain climbing whereas others choose water sports like rafting. Most mountain climbers, in particular, were formerly trekkers who wanted more than just walking in the mountains.

Turkey has ideal locations suitable to become trekking trails. There are still untouched places that did not suffer from deformed urbanization. However, these places are deteriorating fast due to careless trekkers. This is the main reason places like Ballikayalar look like a vast wastebin and can no longer be used by trekkers.

Surely trekking has a financial side as well-it is a profitable business. The income from trekking tours in Turkey mounted to an amount of one million USD. There are tourists who are tired of sea-sun-beach come to Turkey to trek. Judging from the continuously growing popularity of this activity, one can safely maintain that trekking has a bright future lying ahead.

 

 

 

Turkey is Suitable for Trekking
For a more in-depth view on trekking we asked an insider, Cenk Ertekin, the representative of the Dagku Outdoor Activities Association. Cenk Ertekin is a former trekker who spent many years exercising this sport until he finally decided to choose mountain climbing. He provided answers to questions most frequently asked about trekking.....

What Locations are Considered as Good Trekking Trails?
If you intend to do trekking during weekends, choose a location that lies near to Istanbul. The places which still preserve their beauty are mainly located around Yalova. Other favourite trails include the Bolu Mountains, the Gebze Ballikayalar, and the Western part of the Black Sea Region.

 

What is the Greatest Problem Trekking Generates for the Environment?
The greates problem would be pollution. There are, unfortunately, trekkers who carelessly pollute the environment. This is why Ballikayalar is heavily polluted and ceased to be used in recent years.

 

Are trekking Tours Expensive?
Trekking Organizations generally charge an affordable amount of money for weekend escapes. This fee includes travel, accomodation and food expences. In addition to this, organizations provide camping equipment, except on daily tours.

 

Do University Clubs organize Trekking Tours?
Apart from commercial organizations, university mountain clubs, too, go trekking. Among the clubs regularly organizing trail tours are Mimar Sinan University, Yildiz University, Bosphorus University, Galatasaray University and Istanbul Technichal University. Check with each club in these universities as some do not accept trekkers who are not students at this university.

 

How Can You Determine the Difficulty of a Trail?
The trails in trekking have varying levels of difficulty. The parametres to look for are the presence of steep slopes, the height of the mountain, and its climate (some mountains can be extremely cold). Trails that can be easy to pass during summer turn to be a nightmare during winter, even for experienced trekkers.

 

Which Season is Best to Start Trekking?

Generally speaking, if you consider doing trekking start out in spring. Choose a dry trail which requires less strength to walk. Spring is the season when you can take lots of panoramic and picturesque photos of awakening nature during your walk.

 

What is the Basic Gear of Trekking?

You need to pack basic gear before starting to trek. This includes a backpack, walking shoes that fit (or else the trek turns into torture), a comfy trouser, not a blue-jean, additional socks, a coat, a trenchcoat, a water bottle, and a small amount of food supply. Prefer to pack clothes made of wool.

 

 

EQUIPMENT NECESSARY

1) Lights or Headlights (if possible)

2) Spare Batteries

3) Trenchcoat (if possible, something which covers your legs)

4) A comfortable trouser made of cotton etc.(not a blue jean)

5) A pair of socks for each day of the week

6) T-shirt

7) Warm pullovers

8) Anorack, gloves, beret, hat.

9) Track suit, short.

10) Sun cream (with a factor 16 or above), sunglasses

11) Swimsuit, towel.

12) Footwear ; needs to support your ankles while walking, with a medium hard sole, and additional footwear to wear at camping place. Wax or vaseline to provide better insulation in footwear.

13) Backpack ; big enough to hold all your equipment and light enough to be carried during daily trekking trips.

14) Sleeping bag

15) Nylon bags for your equipment (like waste bags). You will need to pack your equipment separately packed into nylon bags.

16) Knive, handkerchief with eau de cologne, nail chipper, moiturizing lotion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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