Taurus, Cappadocia and Mount Ararat

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Taurus, Cappadocia and Ararat

Sample Trip Programme

Trek in Turkey
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Mt. Ararat is a magnificent sprawling dome whose snow covered summit is 5165m high. It lies in Eastern Turkey near the Iranian border and is the highest mountain in Turkey. The earliest recorded mountain ascent in the world is that of Mount Ararat by Noah. Most Christians believe it is the site where Noah's Ark came to rest after the "Great Flood". A climb of Mt. Ararat is a tough walk (non-technical but requiring a good deal of stamina). The upper third of the volcano is covered in snow and the last hundred meters to the summit can be icy requiring crampons, ski poles and maybe a rope. In order to make the ascent good acclimatisation is essential, we gain this by first trekking in the beautiful Ala Dag Taurus (Toros) range.

The Ala Dag constitutes the highest and most compact group of peaks in the Eastern Taurus mountains. Although small in area, less than 750 square kilometres, it packs in a great variety of scenery and terrain in a complex system of mountains and valleys. The bare limestone crags, often moulded into savage outlines typical of this rock, are softened by the forests to the south and east of the area, and lakes in the centre. The Ala Dag supports a very rich flora and fauna, attracting numerous botanists and ornithologists every year. The July departure is the best from the point of view of flora - fruit lovers should come later!

Ancient Cappadocia, situated just an hour's drive away from the Taurus, offers some of the most fascinating day-walks to be enjoyed anywhere in the world. The famous troglodyte (underground) villages and the amazing scenery are best enjoyed on foot. The lunar landscape of Cappadocia is formed from tufa, a compacted volcanic ash which erodes easily and is very suitable for carving caves. Since the earliest times men have burrowed into this rock, making underground houses, churches and even large cities. There are dramatic cave houses at Zelve and Uchisar, and a complete underground monastery at Göreme.

15 day itinerary Grade C/D

Day 1: Istanbul
Meet at the airport, city tour including the famous Blue Mosque. Take the evening ferry across the Bosphorus then the night sleeper train to Konya. Dinner and breakfast included on the train.

Day 2: Konya - Taurus
Drive to the Taurus range 4h. On arrival in Pinarbasi village, the trailhead village, we have a lunch-break in a guesthouse and we begin our trek with a 3 hour hike to Pinar valley. Camp.

Day 3: Çömce Göl
We continue our trek through the Ala Dag mountains by walking up the Maden gorge, possibly seeing nomads at the yayla or mountain pasture where we stop for lunch by a river. After lunch we climb up to our camp at Karagöl lake (2750m, 4-5 hours trekking) where the hardy can enjoy a well-earned swim. Fritillaries and grape hyacinths abound here in July. The energetic may like to continue up past the lake towards Sigirasan pass, for superb views of Dipsizgol and the north face of Demirkazik peak. Camp.

Day 4: Çömce Göl - Yedi Göller
We have a beautiful walk to Yildiz Golu (lake) and then head south to our campsite at Yedi Göller, or the seven lakes, so called because of the many lakes forming here in the early summer from melt water flowing down from the surrounding mountains. Direktas at 3,510m. towers above the campsite and to our right we see the massive ridge of Kizilkaya at 3,725 m. Our camp is at approximately 3,000m. On July departures there will be some snow on the mountains and near the lakes. Camp.

Day 5: Yedi Göller - Mt. Embler 3723 m.
The ascent of Mount Embler, (or Mt. Engin Tepe) is a non-technical 2-3 hours walk from the camp via the East Face. The summit offers a magnificent view towards the southern face of Mount Demirkazik (the highest summit in the range), the Bolkar range, Mt. Hasan and Mt. Erciyes. Return to the Yedi Göller campsite. There is time to relax in the afternoon.

Day 6: Yedi Göller - Tülü
A 1 hour climb takes us from the lakes to the Celikbuyran pass at 3,450 m. Descending to our campsite at Tülü, 1,900 m. we pass some bizarre sandy-coloured rock formations on the way. Its beautiful grassy setting provides a dramatic contrast to the barren, high mountain setting of Yedi Göller.

Day 7: Tülü - Mustafapaşa - Göreme
We walk down to Chukurbag village to meet our bus and drive to Mustafapaşa in Cappadocia (1h 30min). Trek in the spectacular Pancarlik valley. The interesting sweeping curves on the valley flanks give a particular character to the region. We stop at Ortahisar village for lunch in a typical restaurant. Continue our walk to Kizilçukur valley with its magnificently sculptured, red-tuff rock formations. We will see churches dating back to the early Christian period. 6 hours trek. Overnight in pension in Göreme.

Day 8: Göreme - Uchisar - Kayseri - Night train for Erzurum
Walk up the White Valley to Uchisar Castle for lunch and return to Göreme via Pidgeon Valley, 4h trekking time. These two valleys provide an excellent introduction to Cappadocia. We drive to Avananos to visit the famous ceramic works and continue to Kayseri to take the night sleeper train to Erzurum. Dinner and breakfast in train included.

Day 9: Erzurum - Doğubeyazit
Visit the ancient city of Erzurum and some of its historical monuments: the Çifteminare Mosque, Yakudiye Medrese and the citadel. We then drive to Doğubeyazit. Overnight in *** hotel (3-4 hours drive).

Day 10: Doğubeyazit - Mt. Ararat
Transfer to Eli Köy village at 1950m. We walk gently uphill gaining 1250m of height to the base camp I at 3200m. 5 hours trekking.

Day 11: Mt. Ararat (camp II)
Trek up to Yaser camp II at 4200 m. about 5 hours trekking time. All our luggage will be carried by pack animals. There will be time in the afternoon to practise wearing crampons and using ski poles or ice axes.

Day 12: Mt.Ararat. 5165m Summit
We start early for the summit ascent. Although not a technically difficult climb it does require stamina. From about 4500m the trek will be on glaciers and permanent snow-fields. The ascent normally takes about 5 hours and we hope to be on the summit not long after sunrise. We return to the Base Camp I at 3200m (3-4 hours in descent).

Day 13: Mt. Ararat-Doğubeyazit
We descend to Çevirme village, 4 hours, and drive to Doğubeyazit. After a lunch break in a local restaurant we visit the Ishak Paşa place. Ishak Paşa was an Ottoman governor of the province who constructed the palace in the 17th century using a rich mixture of architectural styles. Overnight in hotel.

Day 14: Doğubeyazit - Van - Istanbul
Depart by bus to Van. Tour around city, with its Urartu citadel, dating back to the 1st millenium BC mosque and mausoleums of Seljuk and Ottoman periods. Van, the ancient Urartian capital of Tushpa, is located on the eastern shore of the beautiful lake Van. This remote but important city is set in a verdant oasis at the foot of a rocky peak. Transfer to the airport and fly to Istanbul. Night in **** hotel in the centre of the town, not far from the Blue Mosque.

Day 15: Istanbul -Home
Free time in the morning before transferring to the airport and flight home. Lunch not included.

Land cost includes:

  • All transport within Turkey (including domestic flight)
  • Local English-speaking guide
  • All accommodation
  • All camping equipment (1 tent for 2 people), mattresses, cooking equipment and eating utensils
  • Cook, mule-drivers and mules, jeep for carrying luggage
  • All meals except lunch in Istanbul
  • Permits
Not included:
  • Insurance. All expenses of a personal nature eg drinks
  • Lunches in Istanbul
  • Entrance fees to historical sites mentioned in the itinerary

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Map of Turkey
Mount Ararat

Mount Ararat

Lake Van
Lake Van

Ishak Pasha
Ishak Pasha

Camp 3200m
Camp 3200m

Ishak Pasha
Ishak Pasha

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ALW 2/11/03