Hiking in the Kackar Mountains in Turkey is a fantastic experience. It has it all, forests, alpine regions, glaciers, soring mountains and beautiful lakes.
Another hike another country. Richard DeLong and I spent 5 days hiking 93 kilometers in the Kackar Mountains in Turkey. This mountain range is situated in the north east of Turkey.
Tbilisi to Ayder
We departed at 08:00 from Station Square, Tbilisi, Georgia on a Marchutka (Georgian word for mini bus) to Sarpi, the Black Sea border crossing to Turkey. From there we caught a dolmus (Turkish word for mini bus) to Hopa. We changed our Georgian currency into Turkish lire (A better rate than the border) then caught another dolmus to Adersen which is the Black Sea town that is the terminus to access the Kackars from. Caught another dolmus (the last one for the day 19:00) from here to Ayder, a very touristy town in the foothills of the mountain range arriving at 19:30. A long day of travelling.
Ayder to Yildizli Golu
The trail begins in the center of Ayder. Down to the river, over a bridge then follows an overgrown, bramble filled trail up the opposite side through the forest.
Eventually you will reach the village of Hazindag.
By the afternoon we had reached the alpine region continually climbing. As we were some kilometers from our planned camp for the night, it was necessary to continue walking in the night. Whilst descending down into the next valley we were shot at by a cattle herder who thought we were wild animals. This resulted in me blowing a whistle and looking for our headlamps so he could see us.
On reaching the cattle herder he offered us accommodation and chai for the night, but we declined and climbed the last 200m of elevation to the lake, Yildizli Golu.
Yildizli to Deniz Golu
Hiking in the Kackar Mountains gives you a variety of different terrain, from easy hiking on roads to the more strenuous climbs up loose rock/scree to summit passes to the next valley. The hike to Deniz Golu is the climbing up loose rock/scree and an increase of altitude at the same time. We both had a very mild form of altitude sickness on reaching the camp site at Deniz Golu.
Deniz Golu to Buyukdeniz Golu
Woke this morning to the sounds of hikers coming up from the basecamp further down the valley. Suddenly from having the lake to ourselves to sharing it with various different nationalities and sized groups passing through, on their way to summit Kackar Dagi 3930m.
Once we had breakfast and packed up our tents, we started our own ascent, quickly passing the earlier groups, to reach the peak about midday. Our descent was to be a little different in that we descended down the north side of the peak which requires a good sense of balance to be able to climb down the rock faces to reach the pass. That part was relatively easy compared to the final descent down from the pass through very loose scree to the valley below.
Another climb out of the valley, onto a plateau of 3 lakes where we camped at smallest lake, setting up our tents in a rain storm. An interesting experience.
Buyukdeniz Golu to The Valley
A beautiful sunrise helped dry everything out before we started the days hike to The Valley.
Today included a detour to the village of Oldgunlar to enjoy a good lunch after which we hiked back up and over another ridge to the next valley. Due to the lack of time our goal was to find a level camp site as far up the next valley as possible to reduce the next days climb.
The Valley to Ayder
Another climb another hiking day this time it finishes in Ayder.
On reaching the top of the pass I could see an interesting phenomenon. The fog from the opposite side would try to push through to the other side but would be burnt up by the sun.
We hiked down through the valley to the village of Avusor where stopped for lunch. From Avusor it was road walking to Ayder. There is another alternative along a ridge line but this wasn’t considered due to the heavy fog which would have reduced any chance of seeing anything.
Ayder to Beyond
Time to move on. We caught a dolmus to Rize at 10:00. Rize is the nearest large transport center to either travel further west or east.
Our accommodation in Ayder at either end of the hike was in the Pirikoglu Otel at a cost of US$18 each for a twin share room. It would definitely pay to book in advance as the village was bursting at the seams with visitors. Literally bus loads.
Other hiking opportunities in Turkey. How we hiked the Lycian Way