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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
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
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
- Cook, mule-drivers and mules, jeep for carrying luggage
- All meals except lunch in Istanbul
- 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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