Çamlıyayla loops: castles, mountains, and canyons

Fixing my infected tooth requires going to Tarsus (pop. 340,000; elev. ~sea level) once a week to see a dentist (she cleans out the infection, and once she doesn’t find any more, she’ll do a “permanent” filling, and I’ll be done; at least that’s the theory).  Meanwhile I’ve based myself in Çamlıyayla (pop. 10,000; elev. 1200m) and am able to take care of my weekly appointment as a day trip by dolmuş (public minibus).  I was rather ill during my first week in Çamlıyayla, but by the second week I was feeling well enough to get out and do some loops from my comfortable pansiyon (shown here).

Akın Pansiyon where I stayed for 11 nights (mostly recovering from an abscessed tooth) by bryandkeith on flickr

The first loop was just a walk to the castle, Namrun Kalesi, that towers above the window of my room.  It’s on an escarpment surrounded by lower hills — the perfect place for a castle.  When the Armenians were here, they maintained it.  Later, the Ottomans used and maintained it.  I’m not sure who built it.  It’s been over restored.

I rode up that valley between those two buttes to the mountains beyond. by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200628_174626 by bryandkeith on flickr

My second loop was a day trip by bicycle with the goal to see another “castle”, Sinap Kalesi.  It was a bit uphill to get there, but I’m always surprised how much easier it is without my luggage (although that feeling wears off very quickly).  The site is really an Armenian fortification.  It’s kind of in a valley surrounded by higher land — a strange place for a fort.  However, it does have line of sight to Namrum Kalesi.  Apparently the Armenians had a string of such forts from the Cilician Gates (near where I am writing this!) to Namrum Kalesi.

IMG_20200630_102825 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200630_103703 by bryandkeith on flickr

The outing was shorter than I expected, but I was able to climb a bit higher to Çıkrıcak Bal Ormanı (Çıkrıcak Honey Forest) and loop back to Çamlıyayla.

IMG_20200630_114800 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200630_120647 by bryandkeith on flickr

For the long loop of the week it was four nights out.  The first day was one of the big climbing days of the trip (so far!): 1700m in about 28km.  The final switchbacks up to the plateau at 2600m were steep and loose.  I ended up pushing a fair bit.  I also got strung by a bee (that escaped from the Honey Forest?).

IMG_20200701_110755 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200701_115630 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200701_125602 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200701_154431 by bryandkeith on flickr

July in Turkey -- it's baking on the Mediterranean, but not far away at 2600m the temperature is pleasant by bryandkeith on flickr

I could have climbed higher still the next day (the road continues to Aktoprak via Kırkpınar), but instead I did an out and back by cycling then walking to get to some stunning views of Cehennem Deresi.  It was fun to look across and see the roads that I had cycled two weeks earlier from Cocak Kapısı to Pınarlıbük via Topaşır.  It’s a beautiful area.

IMG_20200702_092613 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200702_102244 by bryandkeith on flickr

Here you can (barely) see the river flowing straight out of the rock in the bottom center of the photo by bryandkeith on flickr

Looking across at Topaşır where I had been ~10 days earlier.  The ledge with the road below the sharp triangular shaded peak in the left center of the photo is obvious.  Topaşır is on the ledge feature. by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200702_115805 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200702_134312 by bryandkeith on flickr

The following day I retraced my route down those loose, steep switchbacks, not realizing at the time that I was starting a 2200m descent!  At the bottom of the switchbacks, I dropped into the canyon to the left (east) towards Papazın Bahçesi.  I had come up from the right two days earlier.

IMG_20200702_161028 by bryandkeith on flickr

I descended from 2600m near here to a little under 700m at the river before climbing out of the canyon. by bryandkeith on flickr

Like my long descent into Cehennem Deresi to Pınarlıbük two weeks earlier it was down, down, down.  The road was often rough and loose, sometimes steep, so it was slow going.

IMG_20200703_093710 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200703_133422 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200703_133857 by bryandkeith on flickr

Papazın Bahçesi (Priest’s Garden) was where an Armenian priest spent his winters when he wasn’t preaching to his flock in the summer in Çamlıyayla.  Now it’s a popular picnic area.  A number of people warned me what a steep, rough, and difficult climb I’d have to get out of the canyon the next day.  It’s all relative, I guess.  There was a short, steep, loose section toward the bottom, but mostly it was fun switchbacks out the side of the canyon through a shady pine forest — much easier than I was made to believe.

IMG_20200703_141422 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200703_150403 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200704_174116 by bryandkeith on flickr

I guess you can’t spend two weeks in Çamlıyayla without trying their famous fındık lahmacun, about as exciting as it looks.

Çamlıyayla is famous for its fındık lahmacun so I had to try it once by bryandkeith on flickr

Back to Tarsus for another round at the dentist.

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One Response to Çamlıyayla loops: castles, mountains, and canyons

  1. Mike Painter says:

    Wow, as always! Good luck with the tooth, too!

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