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Every summer poeple congregate at river banks to raft in the gyrating rapids of the rivers. There is an opportunity to take part in a daily trip or a weekend escape which organizes rafting at a variety of rivers throughout Turkey. The best rivers to white water raft are the Koprucay, Dalaman, Melen, Firat (Euphrates) and Coruh rivers. Coruh, for example, has a rapid of a staggering 185 km. strecthing between Yusufeli-Ispir. The river, famous for its unspoiled wildlife, springs in the Mescit Mountain and flows a length of 335 km. until it merges into the Black Sea. The Koprulu Canyon, on the other hand, with its interesting geological formations, its flora and its antique site of Selge, covers an area of 36.614 hectars. This rapid is also famous for its view of the Meditteranean cypress forest. The canyon offers the opportunity to raft for about 12-13 km. You can seize this opportunity by taking part in commercial tour organizations. The fourth World River Championship took place at the Artvin part of the Coruh river, which in turn acknowledges the river as one of the best rapids in the world for white water rafting.The high season for rafting is considered to be between June and September. This form of activity does not require an outstanding talent for watersports. Everyone who is over 14 and knows how to swim can take part in this activity. If you want to force your strength to its limits by experiencing at the samr time a harmonious team spirit, you should have a go at rafting....




      Coruh River: The Coruh River is rated among the best ten white water rafting locations in the world. This river is themuch more wilder lesser known cousin of the famous Euphrates. The main reason Coruh qualifies as an exellent rafting place is because it stretches 350 km. from the point it springs high in the mountains (3500 m.) until it flows into the Black Sea (sea level=0 m.). In the high water of early spring, the rapids of the Coruh are unrivalled. The river flows across magnificent canyons, crystal-clear streams, branches of the river, and rice fields, productive orchards on the river bank. You can ocassionally come across brown bears, Georgian churches and castles of historical value, mountain summits covered with snow. The seemingly endless rapids and leaps surging through deep gorges in a frantic bid to reach the sea merge with the ancient music of the local gaida and pump the adrenaline to its outer limits. The region is not developed nor tourism-orientated, but the locals are extremely hospital and will contribute to the pleasure you receive from the whole trip. Long rivers like the Coruh require camping overnight only to continue the day. You will soon discover that camping can be fun after a long day of struggling against the river. There is an opportunity to spend a day to trek the mountains stretching along the Northern Black Sea and explore the tranquil valleys and climb to Byzantine and Georgian castles for spectacular views. If you manage to climb as high as 1800 m. you will get to see the churches of Georgian monks who lived as hermits in a secluded environment. These timeless mountains have been overlooked by invading armies for centuries and are still well beyond the reach of the conventional tourist.

     Koprulu Canyon : As one of the true wonders of nature, the canyon is reached after an exhauting drive of 43.5 km. on a narrow asphalt track with sharp curves leading eventually to the Toros (Taurus) Mountains. Despite the difficult road conditions, the road has its own beauty as it is surrounded by pines reflecting all shades of green. You get the impression that God must have favoured this part of the Toros Mountains while deeply inhaling the scent of pine. A question rises from the unconscious: how long are these age-old woods going to last in a world urbanizing faster every year? This doubt is not without its reasons. Every year a single match burns hectars of woods, destroying with the aid of the sun and wind within a few hours what nature strived to perfect in thousands of years. A single match thrown in the name of a political party, in the name of a race, or just to clear the land for constructing buildings....In 1994 a great fire started in these vast woods. Thousands of acres were burned down before the fire brigade could extinguish the fire, leaving the area barren. How many inhabitants of the wildlife perishing in the fire is still unknown. Signs of this fire are still clearly visible at the 27. km. of the track-road to the canyon. The signs last for about 4 km. Six years have past since the fire and reforesting has been carried out, but it will take years for nature to fing back her equilibrium.
      Rafting complexes and restaurants at the river bank are visible after the Beskonak location on the road. The complexes, which continue to stretch alongside the road until the canyon is reached, are not for those who prefer luxury as they look more like huts than all-inclusive complexes. The same is true for the restaurants, but you can be sure that you will get a clean and fresh meal at any of these restaurants. Try out the succulent meat dishes, particularly grilled mutton or chicken and trout. Any freshwater fish you order is guaranteed to be fresh since they are caught straight from the river. The restaurants also serve alcohol. There is also a trout farm near the restaurants where you can eat the freshest trout available in the region. After having stopped for supper, you are about to reach the canyon and the demanding road will finally come to a finish. At the entrance of the canyon, formed over thousands of years by the waters of the Koprulu river, you will see a Roman bridge.
     The Roman bridge, today called the Oluk Bridge, is still used as a means to pass across the river and wide enough even for trucks. The bridge, dating from the 2nd Century A.D., overlooks the canyon from a height of 27 metres and is built of cut stone with the overlapping technique. The waters of the canyon, and other streams in the region, have clear water during summer. This is mainly due to lack of rain in the summer, rain causes the water to appear murky. If you happen to be at the canyon in summer, take the opportunity to plunge yourself into the cool and refreshing waters of the region. This is a good alternative readily welcome by most visitors in hot and sunny days at the canyon. You might also go sightseeing as there is another historical bridge, the Bugrum Bridge, located about one km. from the Oluk Bridge. Another alternative might be to have a picnic at the river bank. Please remember, though, not to pollute the environment as this is a national heritage. Rafting at the river is not as wild as rafting (or rather rollercoasting) at Coruh. Rafting in this location will feel more like a gentle ride with lots of panoramic view. Expert rafting guides brief the group on National Park safety procedures , and use of equipment . Participants may choose between an inflatable canoe or raft. Canoes offer a more active rafting trip. No previous rafting experience is necessary. Rafts hold 8-9 people and are manned by a river guide.

      Gear necessary for Rafting

    The following list explains all equipment you will need on your rafting trip, some items, like the rafting gear and equipment, are supplied by the organizer, whereas other items need to be brought by you. All necessary items are: tent for two people, kitchen and food preparation equipment, lifevest, casque, paddles, neoprene diving suit (if weather is cold), anorack, boots, sleeping bag, mats (isolation material placed in tents under the sleeping bags), water bottle, pullover, light, pocketknife, swimsuit, beret, woolen socks, walking boots, private toilet materials, T-shirt (lots of shirts as you will get wet), sun cream, short, any worn sports shoes (to wear while rafting, you don't want your expensive walking boots to get soaking wet), small backpack, sweat shirt with long sleeves, spare trouser, raincoat.




     The 4 categories of the competition were General Category, Women's, 40 plus. The first three competitors received a total reward of 100.000 DM. Players from countries like Turkey, Germany, Holland, Sweden and the United States participated in the triathlon. The competition started with a run of 7 km. This was followed by 3 km. of white water rafting across the Dim river. The triathlon was completed after a cycling lap.

     The length of one lap in cycling was 6,5 km. Competitors in Men's category finished 3 laps while competitors in Women's category finihed two. A final run of 5 km. followed cycling.

     The winner in the Men's general category of the 3. International White Water Rafting was the two times champion 22 years old Hasan Kandemir. He was followed by Hasan Ozer and Ibrahim Ozer.

    The first three competitors in the  Women's General Category were the winner Zeynep Atabay, the Swedish Asa Mattssaw, and Aysel Palandiz; the first three competitors in the 40 plus Men's Category were the winner Fikret Atay, Coskun Altunbozar, and Ertugrul Yilmaz.

     The first three competitors in the 50 Plus Men's Category were last year's European champion, the Dutch postman Henk Knol, Yuksel Kilic and the Dutch Frank De Boer.

     After a diffcult game a ceremony was organized where the first three competitors recievd their prizes. 71 year old Oktay Tiyensan, who took part the second time in the race, received an honour plate presented by the famous singer Aysegul Aldinc.

     The competition was a great opportunity to introduce rafting spots in Turkey to an international platform. Therefore organizations like IGS, the Alanya Nature Sports Club (ALDOSK), Alanya City Council, Kestel City Council, Alanya Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Trans Nature, 3.S Computer, Aselsan and Best FM sponsored this race.




A Delightful Weekend at Erzincan

      Two weeks ago we traveled to Erzincan with the Outdoor Club, who celebrated their third year as a non-profit organization. We rafted at the Firat river (also known as Euphrates), did waterskiing at the dam, and trekked on the Munzur mountains. Unfortunately, we could not manage to parapant, glacier climb and visit the magnificent caves in just three days. I wished I was a trout in Euphrates, that way I never had to leave the river and raft in the waters a lifetime. As the raft overturned I recognized that this was not such a good idea after all. But I still wish I was a raven in the Munzur mountains and constantly gaze on the beautiful mountain flowers. Perhaps it would be better to be human again during winter though.....

"Raveeen" I started to shout in delirium at the mountain trek. And screamed louder thinking my voive is not so bad after all, "black raveeeen..." The sun was burning as we ascended the Ergen Mountain. The camping place at Ardicli Lake was well behind us. As the group started to get lowered the tempo at the first slope I managed to walk as the shephard of the group behind me, only to realize that our guide, the Governor of Erzincan, Recep Yazicioglu, was far in front of me and not with the group as I thought. He got bored waiting for us to climb to the top and continued to walk the trail. He was soon out of sight and we followed our guide by the direction of his voice echoing from the trail. We did not caught a glimpse of him again during the trek. This is quite embarassing, a middle-aged politician walking way faster than sporty 30 somethings.

Search for Nature
My intimate friendship with raven did not start in the mountains, it reached far back to the day at the Erzincan aiport, the day before we started to trek. On our way to Erzincan I desparately looked for wildlife, but saw only schools of raven instead. They were everywhere, covering the poplars, the sky, the fields with a balck cloud. As the road came to a junction and branched off to Erzincan and Tunceli, we got aquainted with military vehicles, with controls, and with military units blocking the road. As our vehicle stopped for a break and I prepared to eat my sandwhich, I suddenly realized that a heavyly armed member of the armed forces was watching me from behind. The dawned at last: the wildlife was forced to emigrate from this region leaving behind only the strongest and most enduring creatures. Nevertheless, I was wrong. Wildlife was there, but one needed to shout for them to come forward.

As I increased our tempo while climbing I met at last one of the pioneering groups. One person in the started to howl like a wolf. I got the joke and, leaving my prejudice behind, replied "You need to ask the wolf to guide in the mountain." (The wolf is the oldest and most cherished creature in our homeland, Central Asia, it still is cherished in Turkey. The wolf is also the emblem of the nationalistic party, the MHP).

The howling person was Soner Genel, the mayor of Yaylabasi and a member of the MHP party. We soon started a converstaion while trekking. He told that he has been trekking and hunting in the Munzur Mountains since his childhood, and that he disliked the tourists polluting these beauties.

As we ascended the mountain flowers diversified. We were surrounded by little flowers resembling tulips, fresias, and greaniums. I did not see so many different types of flowers even when trekking in the Kackar Mountains at the Black Sea region. For the first time since our stay in Erzincan I regretted not bringing my camera with me. As we turned a huge rock, two fat partridges tried to fly away in a plumb manner. The noise of their wings made resembled that of a helicopter. Locals tell me that although these partridges do not fly well, they are almost impossible to hunt.

As my partner, Sonel Genel, bent over and examined the soil I got curious. He tells me he saw footprints left by bears. Judging from the footprints, this giant mammal must have been extremely agile as it crossed paths almost impossible to pass. Soner Genel pointed at the giant rock formation and said: "His den is behind this rock. I know him because we met last winter." I asked ironically: "Why didn't you shoot him?" The reply was embarassing after my ironic attitude: "Bears multiply at an extremely slow rate. The youngsters are fully grown only after six years, and spent all this time with their mother. We do not touch any bear unless it does extreme harm. I met a friend who told me a bear destroyed all his hives in the mountains; he he couln't bring himself to shoot the animal who stood right in front of him."

The Atom Ant Governor
We reached Ortakaya at 2300 meters and were extremely exhausted. Our guide, the Erzincan Governor Yazicioglu, who rushed ahead, was waiting for us. I manage to reach Ortakaya with the pioneering group, but my own group, the Outdoor Club was presumably still trying to climb the first slope on the mountain. We learned that they gave up climbing and lied on their backs gorging themselves with the magnificent view of the Erzincan Valley, the Euphrates, and the snow capped Otlukbeli Mountains.
Some more climbers managed to join our pioneering group as we started to ascend to the Ergen mountain summit at 3200 metres. As our guide rushed again ahead of us I finally knew that he was in fact Atom Ant disguising himself as the Governor. He explained our group: "We will reach the summit in 2.5 hours." He must have been joking.....
The cool breeze peculiar to Munzur mountains started to whirl as we ran down a slope. We must have been a bit rowdy as the horses, grazing down the hill, sied away and galloped out of sight.

As we ascended again up a slope, Yazicioglu was again waiting at the top. We watched him climbing the slope effortlessly without lowering his tempo. Half an hour later, only four of us were still able to follow our guide. These four were me, of course, Sener, a yound reader of Outdoor magazine , "Hande," the gourmet of Aktuel magazine, and Gulden working for the same magazine....
The wind rose and temperatures became cooler as we approached the summit. Our overlooking view of the Erzincan Valley was now obstructed by covering clouds from the West. It was raining on surrounding mountains. The rain from which we suffered the first two days during our stay at Erzincan was coming back. We were now walking on snow. We even walked through a meadow covered with crocuses. As exhausted as we were, we now had to hop over the crocuses in order not to trample them down....


Atom Ant has a Dream
The energy reserve I stored from the feta cheese and mountain honey was now beginning to get exhauseted. Our group of four sweated. One of us ran after Yazicioglu and begged him to give a break. Looking at our conditions, he resolved to take a break. We ate dried figs and chocolate to pump up our energy levels. Only then had we enough energy to converse with Yazicioglu while resuming walking.

Yazicioglu is famous for his campaigns against the consume of alcohol and cigarettes. He walks and runs three days a week. He learned waterskiing not at a holiday resort, but at the Almus dam in Erzincan, and he is proficient enough in waterskiing that he can perform a "solo." His favourite acitivity nowadays, however, is rafting.
We had a talk about rafting the day before we took part in rafting at Firat (Euphrates). The governor's raft turned over at the second rapid, now termed as the "rapid which managed to sink the Governor." He made a laughing comment on this incident: "A local told me to give up rafting. The local people are afraid of this river. They received too much pain from their loved ones drowning in the river and from the damage the river causes to their fields. By attempting to develop tourism in this region we aim to make peace between the locals and the river."

These claims of developing tourism is not unfounded. Yazicioglu initialized clubs for outdoor activities. The Nature Sports Association, a major non-profit association organizing outdoor activities, was founded thanks to him. He also helped the association to acquire parachutes, paramotors, and equipment needed for mountaineering and rafting. The association is now renting the equipment and giving guiding services.

As our topic of conversation changed from sport to issues in democracy and the power of international profit organizations, we realized that the summit of Ergen mountain was already visible. We could clearly distinguish the snow covered rock of the summit. We only had to walk a couple of hundred metres. Black clouds touched the summit as they traveled. The summit might be dangerous in windy and rainy weather and insisting to reach it might have been a futile act. "Let's return I will show you two big holes" said Yazicioglu. We all agreed. We all would greet the Akbaba Hill (3400) behind us as we returned to Istanbul.
I could not believe my eyes as I saw pieces of water pipes made of baked clay. These were the remnants of water ways constructed by the Armenians. The water ways have been used until the last century, to carry snow water from the mountains to the city. This diligent folk, who once adorned the city with gardens, orchids and wineyards, were forced to emigrate in 1916 after some members of their folk, misguided by the Russian occupation, turned the region into a bloodbath. Did the soil miss its old friends, the Armenians?

At a short break, we ate snow as if it was icecream. Yazicioglu told of his dream. Last year experts came from Switzerland to carry out preliminary studies to assess whether the Ergen Mountain is suitable to be world's second biggest skking resort. The second biggest skiing resort can come true step by step if a source is found willing to pay 55 million USD.

Raven floated on the summit like eagles. I was told that these were ravens who never descended to the valley. What would it be like to live up here in the mountains forever...
I did not have time elaborating this idea as the Governor rushed down to watch Erzincansport playing a football match. We descended as if we had wings and ran down the snow strips resembling ski paths. This was really fun and we forgot about how exhausted we actually were. We descended in 50 minutes a path that took us four long hours to ascend.

Our friends who decided not to continue to climb the first slope and to make a picnic at this spot had long returned to the city by taking a minibus. The only person who waited for us was Soner Genel. We saw the Governor off to the football match and prepared a coffee at the Ardicli river bank with Genel. We drank our coffee with the view of the mountains hovering above us. Soner Genel told us that Ardicli river was formerly a swamp. The Yaylabasi City Council turned the swamp into a lake and supplied it with freshwater carp. The carp population grew into enormous numbers within a year and the city council was now considering hiring fishermen to reduce the population. I told Genel about the mountain flowers I could not get out of my mind and sighed: "I wish I had my camera with me to take a picture of these flowers." Genel came up with a great suggestion "Me and my brother started to take pictures of the flowers since last year with the intention to form a catalogue of the flora of the mountains. We could give you the photos we have taken so far." This lesson well thought to me by a Mayor of the Erzincan district who was a member of the nationalist party MHP, the party I had prejudices against!

As we went to take the pictures we came across the Javelin field of Yaylabasi town. I noticed that the locals reared wonderful horses for the tournament. They even had calm horses for visitors who intended to make an equestrian safari. "We welcome equestrian safari lovers and those who want to climb on Ergen or Akbaba mountains on horseback." said the mayor. "We can also provide guides if one desires, and free accomodation at our guesthouse."

As I mentioned at the beginning of my article, wildlife did not really extinguish in this region, I only had to shout for them to come forward. As I was descending Munzur I saw birds displaying wonderful colours. For the first time in my life I saw cranes in the wild. Among the different species of cranes I could only identify the Nun Crane.
But the real surprise revealed itself to me while we were driving inside one of the old highway tunnels not used anymore (well, we did). We hurried to catch our flight to Istanbul as a bird took off in front of the exit of the tunnel. This was the most beatiful bird I saw in my life with colours like a rainbow. I shouted in extacy "God, look at these colours






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