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North-East Turkey: Walking In the Kaçkar Mountains

Group Tour

9 Days From £1,265

Overview

Join Wild Frontiers on this magical walking tour which travels far from the resorts and beaches of Turkey’s better known tourist haunts. Here in the country's north-east lies another Turkey, where remote mountain monasteries and ancient Armenian churches cling precariously to landscapes that have lain unchanged for centuries. Across the vast Caucasian steppe, amongst the towering peaks of northeastern Turkey, awaits a world stepped in the blood and history of medieval conquest, where bears and ...

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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

8 x Breakfasts
7 x Lunches
8 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use minibuses and our feet!

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

6 nights x Superior
2 nights x Simple

ACCOMMODATION

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Moderate / High

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

North-East Turkey: Walking In the Kaçkar Mountains
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN ERZURUM

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN ERZURUM

The tour starts this morning in Erzurum, Turkey's highest city at 1900m. After checking in to our hotel we will visit the sites of Erzurum on foot. Erzurum was an important stopping point on the Silk Road and has always been a strategically important border town between empires, be it the Romans and Persians, Byzantines and Seljuk Turks, the Ottoman and Russian empires, or most recently between NATO and the Soviet Union. The hinterland is scattered with fortifications from all ages and is now home to Turkey's finest winter sports facilities at Palandoken. The city is decorated with Seljuk monuments and we will visit the finest of them - the Twin Minaret and the Yakutiye Madrasas. This evening we will head out to dinner to sample the rich cuisine of the high steppe, no doubt with an opportunity to try the Çag Kebab, a horizontal döner kebab served sliced onto little skewers.

Rafo Butik Hotel or similar
Dinner

DAY 2: ERZURUM - KARS

DAY 2: ERZURUM - KARS

Leaving Erzurum, heading east, we will visit the Cobandede bridge dating from the 16th century.  After lunch in Kars we’ll arrive at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ani.  At ground zero of the still closed Turkish/Armenian border, Ani is perhaps one of the most unforgettable sites in Turkey. This powerful Armenian trading centre, lying on an off-shoot of the Silk Road, was well fortified, and was known as the City of 1001 Churches. At its height during the 10th and 11th centuries it was one of the world's largest cities. We will walk this large site taking in the churches, cathedrals and mosques of this tragic but beautiful city, including the 'forbidden zone' fortress right on the Armenian border. We then return to the small city of Kars, with its castle, Armenian church and some very unusual examples of Russian architecture which the town acquired during the Russian occupation. Tonight, there should be the chance to enjoy the local specialty of Piti, a slow cooked lamb and chickpea stew.

Approx. 3-4 hrs walking (150m ascent, 150m descent. Total distance 4kms)

Hotel Katerina Sarayi or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: KARS – SAVSAT

DAY 3: KARS – SAVSAT

Leaving Kars we head north around the shores of Lake Çıldır.  At 2000m of altitude, this lake freezes over in the winter, and is a vital rest stop on this important bird migration route in summer.  We continue across the vast Caucasian steppe to the deep ravine system ruled over by 'Satan's Castle' and we walk in the area to appreciate this wonderful spot.  While little evidence exists as to who built this castle or when, the foundations are thought to be Hellenistic. Its situation on an outcrop of rock commanding the deep canyon meant the castle was of strategic importance and was continuously occupied until Ottoman times. Having explored the fort, we climb up a steep grassy slope – reasonably challenging as there is no path – to the top of the escarpment where we’ll rest and have our picnic lunch. From here we will walk amongst these impressive mountain landscapes, before continuing on a scenic drive to Şavşat, which will be our base for the next two nights.

Approx. 4.5-6 hrs walking (720m ascent, 846m descent. Total distance 9kms, highest point 2076m)

Yesil Vadi Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: SAVSAT

DAY 4: SAVSAT

Using Savsat as our base, today we head into the Karagol (Black Lake) National Park. Blanketed in high upland pastures and dotted with traditional villages and dense forests, the park provides us with a stunning setting for a walk around the lake. A riot of wildflowers in the late spring, the park is a haven for brown bears, who use the autumn falls to forage for fruit in the local orchards. After a lunch where there should be opportunities to try the local trout, we’ll pay a visit to the ruined Georgian church of Tibeti before returning to Savsat.

Approx. 4hs hrs walking (564m ascent, 564m descent. Total distance 11kms, highest point 1900m)

Yesil Vadi Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: SAVSAT – ALTIPARMAK

DAY 5: SAVSAT – ALTIPARMAK

Departing Savsat we descend into the flooded valleys of Artvin this morning. A day filled with engineering marvels, we’ll take in the massive structure of the Deriner Dam and the astonishing network of tunnels and viaducts that were built to span the rising waters. Our destination is the remote Georgian monastery of Ishkhani, where a local guide will take us on a village-channel walk through the local Icoa village a good chance for us to stretch our legs after the long journey.

Barhal Karacan Pansiyon or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: ALTIPARMAK

DAY 6: ALTIPARMAK

Rising above the Black Sea coast, the Kaçkar Mountains represent the easternmost and highest portion of the Pontic Alps. Home to the towering summit of Mount Kaçkar (3937m), this is a stunning setting to explore on foot. After paying a short visit to the nearby Barhal Monastery after breakfast we then set off on a circular walk amongst the high pastures around Altiparmak, a 10 kilometre trek that takes in some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding alps, stopping off at small settlements where we’ll hopefully meet some of the local characters, and take our lunch, before returning to our accommodation. After the walk you probably won’t be able to resist a refreshing dip in one of the rivers clear mountain pools.

Approx. 4.5-5.5 hrs  walking (875m ascent, 1130m descent. Total distance 13kms, highest point 2000m)

Barhal Karacan Pansiyon or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: ALTIPARMAK – TRABZON

DAY 7: ALTIPARMAK – TRABZON

Driving to the historic market town of Ispir we’ll have time for a short walk amongst the old town – this is a great place to buy local honey or dried fruit – before having our lunch and then continuing on towards the dramatic landscapes of Mt Ovit (3060m) for a memorable ridge walk followed by a drive down to our final destination, Trabzon.

Approx. 2-2.5 hrs  walking (435m ascent, 435m descent. Total distance 6kms, highest point 3049m)

Usta Park Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: TRABZON - SUMELA MONASTERY - TRABZON

DAY 8: TRABZON - SUMELA MONASTERY - TRABZON

Beginning early this morning we drive away from the Black Sea and head into the densely forested hills to visit the iconic Sumela Monastery. Perched like an eyrie, high up on the sheer cliffs, this Greek Orthodox retreat can trace its antecedents back to the 4th century and the surrounding views make this one of the finest settings in Turkey. Having alighted from the minibus we will trek up through the surrounding forest to the reach the monastery, just as countless monks must have done over the centuries. Inside the monastery the frescoes, both inside and on the outer chapel walls, are exquisite. Following lunch at a riverside restaurant we then drive back to the coastal city of Trabzon, to visit the church of Hagia Sophia, considered by many to be one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture anywhere.

Approx 2hrs walking (300m ascent, 300m descent. Total distance 6kms, highest point 1200m)

Usta Park Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: TOUR ENDS IN TRABZON

DAY 9: TOUR ENDS IN TRABZON

The tour ends this morning after breakfast, depending on the time of your flight you may be able to enjoy a short walking tour of the Old Town.

Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION USED ON THIS TOUR

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Hotel Rating

Ultra
The best of the best, the ultimate in luxury
Luxury
Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium
Excellent standards without the big price tag
Superior
Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple
No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Accommodation displayed here should be taken as a guide only. *Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary of your individual departure for more information.

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
TK 2704 Istanbul (IST) 05:55 Erzurum Airport (ERZ) 07:55
TK 1984 London Heathrow (LHR) 22:10 Istanbul (IST) 04:05
TK 2825 Trabzon Airport (TZX) 15:20 Istanbul (IST) 17:15
TK 1983 Istanbul (IST) 18:35 London Heathrow (LHR) 20:45

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

For this tour UK passport holders currently do not require a visa for Turkey.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements.

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements.

Istanbul

Istanbul is a fascinating city, full of colour, mystery and culture and a great place in which to extend your time in Turkey. Known as Constantinople when it was the capital of the Eastern Roman and Byzantine Empires, Istanbul was later renamed and became the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The city spreads out over two continents, Europe and Asia, and is called the Gateway to Asia. It lies on the straights of the Bosphorus, which links the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean. Allow 3 - 8 days.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

While the sun can be strong, the temperatures are usually perfect of trekking in this part of the world in late spring through to the early autumn.  While it should be warm weather during the days the evenings can be cool so a jumper is recommended. Average daytime temperatures should be in the range of 25C with night-time temperatures dropping to 15C.  Waterproofs are essential as showers are always possible and high winds can be experienced on the summits.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Anyone in a good state of health who enjoys hillwalking should be able to cope with this tour. Please note that while all the walks can theoretically be opted out of, they are a fundamental part of the trip and so you should be fit enough to enjoy them. In general, the terrain is very varied throughout offering up a real kaleidoscope of experiences. There is the occasional steep drop and stream to be crossed but nothing too daunting!

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour. 

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 4246 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Airport Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION