Bicycle touring Aladağlar (less mountain eye candy)

I’ve had three big mountain sections of riding on this trip (so far!): Dedegöl Dağları, Bolkar Dağları, and Aladağlar, in that order.  The riding got harder, the elevations got higher, and sadly the scenery was, well, what should I say?, less rewarding from one of these ranges to the next.

The main reason people head to the less accessible east side (compared to the west side from Çamardı) of Aladağlar is to visit Kapuzbaşı Şelalesi (waterfalls).  Of course I had a pass to cross (actually two) to get there from Aladağ (the district capital, not to be confused with Aladağlar, the name of the mountain range).  It was fairly fun riding on a good road without much traffic with the scenery improving as I went north.

After much back and forth with Alper, he decided Alaca isn't visible from here.  The peak in the middle, kind of my itself, is probably Kaldı.  The farthest one we can see to the left is perhaps Vayvay. by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200720_132849 by bryandkeith on flickr

That's the stunningly situated village of Büyükçakır at the base of the mountain. by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200720_152116 by bryandkeith on flickr

Coming from the south the first waterfall you get to is called Güney Şelale (South Falls), surrounded by junky tourist infrastructure and over-bearing people.  The canyon was narrow, loud ’cause of the river, and stuffed full of hotels and restaurants.  When I got to the waterfall, I found trash, discarded building materials, water pipes, buildings falling apart.  Really, people come all this way for this?  Having never been here before, I thought this was the (rather disappointing) main attraction.

IMG_20200720_155102 by bryandkeith on flickr

I felt relieved to escape.  I had a short climb to the main road (how most people access Kapuzbaşı), turned left, paid the entrance fee to the national park (7tl), and found this:

IMG_20200720_162500 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200720_163419 by bryandkeith on flickr

Well, now, that’s the real deal!

Note if you come here, that there are also places to stay in the village of Kapuzbaşı which looks much preferable to what I saw around Güney Şelale.  If you bring a tent, you might find something like this:

IMG_20200720_190121 by bryandkeith on flickr

The following day started off easier than expected with nice scenery.  It didn’t hurt that on one of the steep sections workers in a truck (one of the only vehicles of the day) stopped and gave me börek and cola — salt, sugar, and fat.  Just what I needed!

There's a road out that way that heads to Acısu and connects down to the Aladağ-Kapuzbaşı road.  It could be a good bicycle route if you find yourself in the area. by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200721_094707 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200721_125451 by bryandkeith on flickr

This road from Ulupınar heads to Çamlıca where the workers had come from.  If you’re not into pushing your bike, I recommend heading that way (to Çamlıca) and see what happens.  I turned north on what turned out to be a very rough road with lots of short steep climbs and descents, something Utahns would be proud to call a road, I guess you might say.

IMG_20200721_153853 by bryandkeith on flickr

I ended up climbing 1600m that day and 1900m the following day to end up at this pass:

At 3100m this is, I believe, the highest I've bicycled in Turkey.  I went over another 3100m pass the following morning. by bryandkeith on flickr

At 3100m I think it’s the highest I’ve bicycled in Turkey.  I had entered lead-zinc mining country.  The first big mine I came to was about 400m (vertical) below the pass.  200 people work at that mine in 3 daily 8-hour shifts where 60 miners enter at a time.  They were friendly and curious, and I devoured the lunch they offered me.  It was at least part of the energy I needed to make it up the final switchbacks.

IMG_20200722_162008 by bryandkeith on flickr

At a smaller mine on the other side of the pass they’re still using these carts:

These railroad carts are still in use at this lead zinc mine. by bryandkeith on flickr

There was a lot of up as well, but the next day I ended up descending an incredible 2700m, perhaps the most I’ve ever descended in a day on a loaded touring bike.  Much of it was on rough roads.

IMG_20200723_100537 by bryandkeith on flickr

A number of times I had views of Erciyes, the volcano near Kayseri.  You see it here in the distance:

My second view of Erciyes. The first was on the pass before the steep descent north to Düşmüş Yaylası. by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200723_145948_54_blended_fused by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200723_152303 by bryandkeith on flickr

I made it down to Derebağ Şelalesi, another popular waterfall destination.  I sat at the restaurant and devoured whatever it was they recommended.

IMG_20200723_162521 by bryandkeith on flickr

The descent continued to Yahyalı the following morning, but at this point it was easy.  I was back on the real road network.  The scenery from Yahyalı to Tufanbeyli wasn’t fantastic, but I was so happy to be able pedal.  I mean, check out this flat, paved road!

IMG_20200724_124210 by bryandkeith on flickr

I think I even had a tailwind there.

Looking at the map you’ll see there’s a difficulty between Yahyalı and Tufanbeyli.  You have to cross the Zamantı River.  Some people recommended going via Develi while others preferred the route via Feke.  I, however, managed to locate a small bridge on a track between Süleymanfakılı and Havadan crossing this pretty canyon:

The Zamantı River crossing between Süleymanfakılı and Havadan by bryandkeith on flickr

I had to push a bit on the initial switchbacks on the climb out, but I managed to find an arch:

IMG_20200724_140216 by bryandkeith on flickr

Utah again?  and what must be called coronavirus flowers:

IMG_20200724_140204 by bryandkeith on flickr

A great surprise was the restored Ottoman cemetery, Şeyh İbrahim Tekkesi, near Havadan.

IMG_20200724_152527_31 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200724_152940 by bryandkeith on flickr

I was starting to get into the fabulous Anatolian hospitality.  In Dereşimli Teyfik invited me for lunch with his brother and his brother’s family.  There was lavaş, yogurt soup, an eggplant dish, tomatoes, cucumber, grapes, but the highlight was definitely the stuffed squash flowers.  You know, flor de calabaza that they put in quesadillas in Oaxaca.  We’d eat these sometimes in Colorado on salads.  Well, this was the first time I’d had them stuffed.  Like stuffed peppers or eggplant, these were stuffed flowers!  Super tasty.  Oh, I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!

IMG_20200725_104843 by bryandkeith on flickr

The next day on the other side of Gezbeli Geçidi (a pass) Aziz the beekeeper invited me to breakfast of honey (of course!), cucumber, bread, and tea.  He wouldn’t let me leave without giving me a big jar of honey!

IMG_20200726_070954 by bryandkeith on flickr

Aziz, the beekeeper from Kozan, who treated me to breakfast and wouldn't let me leave without giving me a large jar of honey. by bryandkeith on flickr

Of course, there was still one more pass!

IMG_20200726_092148 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200726_093548 by bryandkeith on flickr

I was so excited to get to Tufanbeyli and rest, but I ended up spending only one day there (I had some broken spokes replaced).  I guess, Tufanbeyli’s like Boulder in that it’s high enough that you don’t usually need a/c so most people don’t have it.  You just suffer for a couple weeks, and then it’s over.  Well, suffering wasn’t the kind of rest I needed after so much hard riding so I hit the road again.

The mosque opposite Kardeşler Otel (warning if it's hot: no a/c) by bryandkeith on flickr

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5 Responses to Bicycle touring Aladağlar (less mountain eye candy)

  1. Joanne Keith says:

    As always, Bryan, wonderful descriptions, beautiful photos, and fun connections with other places you know so well.
    XOXOXO Mom

  2. Curt Bradner says:

    Just catching up on your last 3 months has left me exhausted and in envy.
    I’m thinking by now you must know Turkey better than most Turks, at least from the “adventure” view point.

    • Bryan Keith says:

      This trip has definitely been exhausting at times. That Aladağlar section or essentially everything from Ayrancı to Yahyalı (which includes both Bolkar Dağları and Aladağar) was some of the most physically challenging riding I’ve done. I’m feeling tired right now as well. Ferda and I are getting toward the end of the trip, and she keeps pushing to keep going without a rest day. That seems to have caught up with both of us though I’m needing to force her to rest. I still have lots of photos to edit and posts to write to get to the end.

      Yes, from an adventure point of view and also from a travel point of view, I certainly know Turkey better than most Turks do. However, there are still a lot of places I’d like to visit. Turkey is certainly a fine place to be stuck in during covid 19, and bicycle touring still seems to be a fairly low risk activity (as far as the pandemic is concerned).

  3. Mike Painter says:

    Wonderful pictures and descriptions, as always! Al least you have blue sky for the most part, compared to California right now!

    • Bryan Keith says:


      Oh my gosh! You’re right. I need to be thankful for so much blue sky, don’t I? I tended to complain about the weather on this trip because it was mostly too hot, and I wished for shade, but, yes, I was blessed with lots of clean blue sky. 🙂

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