Turkey’s Kaçkar Mountains, a daunting extension of the Caucasus high above the Black Sea, are only for the intrepid. Ali Özgü Caneri and Kate Clow took advantage of the short trekking season to scale two of the saw-edged summits. Photographs by Kate Clow.
The Kaçkars are the wettest mountains in Turkey, except for a brief three summer months when they bloom, green and lush, under a summer sky. The last winter snow melts into gushing streams, grass and flowers stretch upwards to the sun, and blossoms and butterflies sparkle with vivid colour. And the people return.
The inhabitants of the Kaçkar villages, reduced in winter to a few old people, suddenly are joined by relatives from germany, istanbul and the coast. These months are for grand reunions: buses arrive packed with migrants loaded with presents; four-wheel-drives full of city slickers and German goodies block the trails; builders busy themselves with concrete mixers and corrugated iron. And all around the stone settlements are herd of ginger-coloured cow, driven out to pasture on the lush grass, and mules, nearly invisible under bundles of hay; squarking chickens and lazy dogs enjoy the sun. The locals work away, milking and making cheese, gathering hay for the winter months.
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Turkey’s northeastern neighbour, Georgia, is a fairytale country with a hard edge, and its entrancing landscape of isolated hilltop cathedrals and medieval monasteries just demands to be explored. By Minn Hogg