At 300m, 20km off the coast road, Qamlihem^in can be described as a transition point, or a kicking-off point. As the mist and drizzle should tell you, you've already left the ambience of the coastal zone, but you're still not really in the Ka^kars until you start adding a bit of altitude on the road up to Ayder.

As you head along the valley towards the village, you'll pass several ancient humpback bridges across the Firtina Qayi (Storm Stream), some of which were restored for the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish

Republic in 1998. There are a couple of camping spots and a rafting outfit along the road between here and the coast.

Çamlihemçin itself is essentially a functional village with the only ATM in the Kaçkars, a place to stock up on provisions or grab a bite in the handful of cheap eateries. For information and trekking arrangements, call in at the Tiirkii Tourism Travel Agency ( § 651 7230; www.turkutour.com; inönii Caddesi 47), sharing the tiny Türk Telekom office.

As well as the more basic cafés, Yejilvadi ( § 651 7282; inönü Caddesi; meals around €6), by the Ayder bridge, offers excellent fresh trout dinners, local dishes and mezes in its conservatory. Just outside town on the road to Çenyuva, Kervan 53 (§418 0646; meals around €6) has brighter adobe-style décor (with fountain) and an even better riverside spot, used mainly for tour groups.

Just beyond Çamlihemçin the road forks and you'll have to decide whether to go straight ahead (signposted 'Zil Kale & Çat') for Çenyuva or left (signposted 'Ayder Kaplicalari') for Ayder (17km).

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