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 Uzungol a lakeside  eden

Part 5: Uzungol a lakeside  eden

So much piety is sure to be rewarded by paradise even in this world. All one has to do to get there is to drive the narrow and rocky road past Çaykara to Uzungol. What is remarkable is that this lakeside Eden has remained so little known until now, to the extent that hardly any guidebook has ever made reference to it. So, before the word gets out and before the planned paved road and lakeside hotel are built, the traveler is urged to take in the dreamlike beauty of uzungol
Part of Uzungol's allure lies in the two-hour drive up from Of and especially in the rough stretch past Çaykara. The road follows the spectacular blue-green course of the Solaklı River as it flows down from Uzungol, forded occasionally by wooden footbridges. The forest is thick with underbush, moistened by the spray of gushing waterfalls and frequent rains. Farmhouses of rich brown chestnut wood with festive yellow stalks of
corn decorating their windows preside over the intensely green groves of tea. The region offers an excellent selection of the typical chalet-style houses of the traditional mountain architecture. Some of these have an unusual latticework construction that is unique to this district. For a wholly unspoiled ensemble make a short detour to the village of Atakoy, on the Çaykara-Bayburt main road one kilometer beyond the Uzungol turnoff. As elsewhere in the Black Sea most houses here are accompanied by a serender, an elaborate but on stilts that serves for winter storage. The curious wooden disks one sees on each stilt help keep mice away.
Back on the road, stroll across the covered bridge of Hapsiyaş, a 250 year old wooden structure with a tiled roof. On the bridge, local fisherman cast for trout with makeshift wooden rods. At the quaint little village of Çamlık, another small bridge crosses the brook. On the porch of a tea house a group of old timers sit, passing judgement on each car that lurches by.
Uzungol is located at 1250 meters, the altitude where stately conifers begin to replace the leaf forest. The lake is a small one barely three kilometers in circumference. A huge mosque with dual minarets casts its
whitewashed reflection on the water's surface. In the main part of the village, a short walk up the slope, another mosque echoes the müezzin's call to prayer. The horizon is encircled by the majestic peaks of Mt. Ziyaret (3111 meters) and Mt. Haldizen (3193 meters) which remain snow capped through July.
On the far side of the lake lies the trout farm alabalık tesisleri) of Hüseyin İnan, which doubles as a mountain resort of modest proportions. It is a delightful place: four log cabins with wood stoves and hot water line the river bank. Each can sleep six comfortably. A spacious restaurant, also made of wood, serves wholesome food: fresh trout fried in butter, crisp salads and homemade soup. No one speaks English, but sign language works surprisingly well at this altitude. If backgammon is your forte you may try your hand with Ismail Inan, a former gambler and alcoholic on the mend who plays with a wolfish grin and is considered champion of these parts. As Ismail will readily inform you,
uzungol is liquor-free and will remain so as long as the mullahs have their way.
Across the arched stone bridge, the village of Uzungol (also known as Şerah) is a charming collection of old timber houses. Beyond it, several different paths cross through crocusfilled meadows up into the pine forests and the alpine yaylas. Whichever path you choose, you are certain to find a series of pastoral scenes: fathers and sons spread piles of hay to dry on the hillside; young girls struggle up the mountain trails with towering loads of firewood strapped to their backs, while women milk the cow.
A further four-hour walk (cars can reach the village of Demirkapı by bad road) will get one to the glacier lakes of Mt. Haldizen located on the treeless grasslands at 2800 meters. The peak itself is a short and easy climb beyond the lakes and affords a stupendous view over the distant Çoruh River Canyon to the south.

Free Travel Guide of Turkey Pontic coast: East of Trabzon - Trebizond

 Part 1: Tea Plants
Part 2:
Markets
Part 3:
Sürmene
Part 4:
A Muslim Redoubt
Part 5:
A Lakeside Eden
Part 6:
Rize and Environs
Part 7:
Lazland
Part 8:
A Little Berlin

Part 9: Bull wrestling in Artvin

 


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