Bicycling touring Dersim İli, part two: Merkez and Mazgirt

From the Upper Munzur Valley around Ovacık it was a ride on the main road following the river downhill to Dersim (the city). As a main road, I expected a fair bit of traffic, especially since it was the weekend. What was surprising was how narrow the road was. Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic. The nice scenery and pleasant camping continued.

IMG_20200822_090723 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200822_102038 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200822_125322_5 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200821_155601 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200822_093955 by bryandkeith on flickr

Hacer had about 24 hours in Dersim before getting on a bus back to Mersin in time to go back to work. Ferda and I ended up spending quite a few days in the city, mostly enjoying time with our friends, Şahin and Meral. Meral speaks Kurdish, and Şahin speaks Zaza. Like English and German, Kurdish and Zaza are linguistically close but not mutually intelligible. The two of them speak Turkish together.

Ferda and I heard Zaza spoken quite a lot in both Dersim and Bingöl. Here is “no parking” written on a sign in Ovacık in both Turkish (above) and Zaza:

"No parking" in Turkish and Zazaca by bryandkeith on flickr

The first “activity” that Meral and Şahin planned was to treat us to sırın, a local specialty. Or perhaps it’s from Elazığ (which isn’t really so far away)? It’s a baked savory snack (or meal) with yufka (filo dough), cheese, yogurt, garlic, and some spices. I thought it was quite tasty, and it’s always fun to eat something new. This photo doesn’t do sırın justice:

Sırın, a börek-like Elazığ speciality, though we're trying it here in Dersim by bryandkeith on flickr

Our next activity with Meral and Şahin was a super fun afternoon back on the Munzur River. This time we were in a boat. Şahin had been talking with work colleagues about a rafting day, and our visit was an excuse to make it happen. For two or three of the group it was their first time rafting. For me, well, it was definitely the best rafting I’ve done in Turkey — a beautiful canyon and a mostly mellow river interspersed with fun rapids.

IMG_20200824_162659 by bryandkeith on flickr

Ferda with Ali, our nice mellow guide by bryandkeith on flickr

Here’s Ferda with Şahin, and that’s Meral on the left:

Meral, Ferda, Şahin by bryandkeith on flickr

The small city of Dersim is at the confluence of two creeks, the Munzur and the Pülümür which are in curvy gorges. The geography forces the city to be spread out into kind of four different towns, connected by hilly fast highways with lousy bicycle infrastructure. Making things worse is another large reservoir, the Uzunçayır which, when full, backs up water to a bit above this confluence. It adds ugliness to a city that’s not very user friendly to start with.

The confluence of the Pülümür and the Munzur, unfortunately it's stagnant water here when the reservoir is full by bryandkeith on flickr

We were excited to have Meral and Şahin join us on the day Ferda and I left the city. We’ve been talking about a bicycle tour together for years so this was a nice short practice run. Of course, they didn’t have luggage, but Şahin rode my heavy bike for quite a few kms.

Şahin tried my bicycle for a few kms and was surprised how easy it was to pedal even though it weighs so much. by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200830_111832 by bryandkeith on flickr

We had lunch together before saying goodbye, and then Ferda and I continued to climb to the top of the pass that separates Dersim (merkez) from Mazgirt.

IMG_20200830_141923 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200830_155558 by bryandkeith on flickr

Our last day in Dersim (province) was more pleasant scenery on a road with far less traffic than the previous day.

IMG_20200831_082350 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200831_084621 by bryandkeith on flickr

At the end we coasted downhill to yet another large reservoir, Seyrantepe Baraj Gölü, which marks the border between Mazgirt (Dersim) and Karakoçan (Elazığ).

IMG_20200831_093627 by bryandkeith on flickr

We’ll miss the many wonderful people we chatted with in Dersim.

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One Response to Bicycling touring Dersim İli, part two: Merkez and Mazgirt

  1. Derek+and+Jennie+Werner says:

    Looked like a beautiful trip! Derek and Jennie

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