We were still five people when we crossed from Ardanuç to Şavşat.
Only Emek and I had been to Şavşat before. When we described it to friends, we had both compared it to Switzerland. We were not disappointed to visit again.
In Susuz we were invited to camp in a local family’s picnic area with a picnic table, a shelter, and a very nice view.
The next day Emek, Görkem, Ferda, and I said goodbye to Hacer in Şavşat (the district capital). She got a dolmuş to Ardahan, then a large bus to Mersin, to get back to her teaching job a day or two before school started.
From Şavşat the four of us started up the steep main road to Yavuzköy, a stretch of highway I had ridden with Sage nine years earlier. I was excited to see Yavuzköy again because now I am friends with Semra whose mother is from this picturesque village.
Semra had recommended the road from Yavuzköy to Kocabey and Köprülü. Again, we weren’t disappointed.
It was a short climb from there to Veliköy where we spent three (or was it four?) nights at Han Konakları.
That’s where Ferda and I said goodbye to Emek and Görkem. They hired a driver to take them to their car in Kars and drove from there back to İstanbul for a friend’s wedding.
Thankfully Ferda and I don’t have friends getting married. Look how happy Ferda is to be touring with just the two of us now. 😉
We took a couple walks in Veliköy
and then headed up and down and up again toward the mountains
above Aşağı Koyunlu.
The goal here was to get to Tamara Kilisesi (a church). We easily (?) found the recommended campsite at Kanat.
But then I made the mistake of taking Ferda up another 500m (walking) on a route that definitely did not go to the church. The views weren’t bad,
but maybe we should have hung out and tried the mushrooms instead.
By morning I had learned where we were supposed to go, but Ferda was no longer interested. Once you find the start (a bit difficult), a clear trail leads straight to the ruins and the waterfall beyond.
The church, built into a difficult to access cliff, reminded me of Sümela, but I learned later it’s Armenian, not Greek.
Admittedly, there’s not a lot to see, and the area is hardly easy to access. If you do make it all the way here, continue on another 15-20 minutes on an increasingly treacherous trail to the waterfall (Su Atılan).
Ferda was happy to see me back at camp. Let the Şavşat adventure continue.