Trekking is the main reason people come to the Kafkars, and there are innumerable walks you could do. Talk to locals and the trekking guides to create your own adventure.
Note that the trekking season in this region is very short, and you will only be able to do the higher mountain routes between mid-July and mid-August, when the snowline is highest. From mid-May to mid-September there are still plenty of walks you can do on the lower slopes and dozens of little mountain villages where you can catch a slice of authentic Kaijkar life.
One of the most popular multiday trips is the Trans-Ka^kar trek, described in detail in the Trekking chapter, p85. The trek to the Ka^kar Summit by its southern face takes an easy three days, but may require specialist snow equipment. The three- to four-day Trans-Altiparmak route is similar to the Trans-Kaijkar, except that it crosses the Altiparmak range and doesn't climb the summit. If you stay in Barhal (Altiparmak) you could trek for four to five sweaty hours up to Karagol, camp overnight, and return the next day.
Most people base themselves in Ayder or Qamlihemjin, and start treks from the eastern flanks of the range at Barhal (Altiparmak), Yaylalar (Hevek) or Olgunlar. Day walks around the slopes and lakes are possible from Yukari
Kavron, Caymakçur and Avusor, all served by dolmuç from Ayder. At Yukari Kavron, try asking for Mehmet Ali, a guide in his 70s known locally as the 'king of Kaçkar'.
Although some people are happy heading off into the mountains alone, it's a good idea to hire a local who knows the tracks. The walks are mostly unsigned, and misty weather conditions can put paid to your schedule, let alone your sense of direction. If you ask around at the pensions you should be able to find someone willing to go with you for around €30 a day. You may also want to hire a mule to carry your luggage (around €20 per day).
You should bring a good tent, stove and sleeping bag, but you could get away with just bringing walking boots and warm clothes provided you're going with one of the all-inclusive trekking operators.
For fully guided tours, including guide fee, tents, bedding, and all transport and food, expect to pay between €30 and €60 per day from Ayder, depending on group size (a minimum number often applies). A one-week trek should cost around €300, all included.
Reliable English-speaking guides include the following:
Adnan Pirikoglu (§ 0464-657 2021; [email protected] hotmail.com) Experienced mountain guide who knows the area like the back of his hand, based at the Pirikoglu Aile Lokantasi in Ayderyear-round.
AM §ahin (§ 0464-651 7348) Based at the §ahin Pansiyon in Yukari Kavron, on a plateau south of Ayder. Mehmet Demirci (§ 0464-657 2153) A jovial local entrepreneur offering day walks, longertreks, Jeep safaris, biking trips and other activities. Ask at Turku Tourism (right) in Camhhem§in or the Fora Pansiyon in Ayder (opposite).
Most pension owners will happily help you organise a trek. There are also mountain guides in Yusufeli, Tekkale and Barhal, on the southern side of the range (see p571).
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