The country of Turkey, featuring its mega metropolis and cultural capital Istanbul, is a wonderful place to trek and take long walks while enjoying interesting scenery, history and culture in a wide variety of geographical regions. Whether it be taking a long-distance trek on one of Turkey's famous trails, such as the Lycian Way, the St. Paul's Trail and hiking in the Eastern Black Sea Plateaus or in the Kaçkars, or simply doing a day hike or photography walk in some of Istanbul's more natural attractions, there has never been a better time to get out there, exercising and connecting with others as you discover some of the many diverse wonders this country has to offer.
The following are some of the best trekking, walking, photography and adventure tour organizations to make the most of this summer.
Hiking Istanbul: Long hikes in the Istanbul region
A group featuring weekly hikes in the Istanbul region, "Hiking Istanbul" was founded by Nick Hobbs, Caroline Finkel and Suha Ülgen. Nick Hobbs, a British expat who has been living in Turkey since 2003, is a performer, concert promoter, mountaineer, and also teaches dance and movement classes, while Caroline Finkel, a Scottish expat in Turkey since 1989, is an Ottoman Historian, author and co-creator of the Evliya Çelebi long-distance bridle path. Suha Ülgen is a master of mapping, navigation and all things geography related, whose latest role was to chair the U.N. Geographic Information Working Group. Eventually planning to produce a book on hiking in Istanbul as well as a website and a smart phone map, the group holds monthly day-long hikes on Saturdays, each of which are accessible by public transportation and free. Their next hike, "Between Two Seas," will take place this Saturday, July 29 and will be a route from Sazlıbosna to Bosporus City via the Şamlar dam and Sazlıdere River, Yarımburgaz Cave and Altınşehir. This 26-kilometer (16-mile) hike will set out by bus from Bayrampaşa at 9:20 a.m. Their next walks will be on August 5, 19 and 26 and on Sept. 2, which marks their 100th hike. To find out more about the upcoming hikes check out Hiking Istanbul's Facebook page or visit www.hikingistanbul.org.
Turkey's Photographer and Tour Club: Photo day tours
Türkiye Fotografçılar ve Gezi Külübü (TFGK) was founded by street photographer Barış Kerim Cesur and is co-chaired by Emre Aykın. The focus of these tours is more on taking photos than hiking, however walking through and discovering different neighborhoods in the city is par for the course with this group, which holds free public events. Their next photography walk will be held on Sunday, August 6 and will take place from Kuzguncuk to Beylerbeyi from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Sunday, Aug. 20 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the TFGK will meet up in Kadıköy and then head to the Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanical gardens in Ataşehir where they will tour the gardens and also hold a macrophotography workshop shooting butterflies. Check out their Facebook and Instagram to stay afloat of future walks, including tours of Silivri, Balat, Şile and Ağva, all coming up in the next two months. In the meantime, the members will be discussing photography, including wedding and documentary styles, at a series of photography seminars that will be held on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. at the Art Istanbul Photography Cafe in Karaköy.
Düş Patİkası: Trekking, traveling In Turkey
Founded by Barış Ataç and now co-run by İbrahım Koseliören, Düş Patikasi, which best translates to "Track of Dreams," is a tour company and trekking group that visits destinations off the beaten path at reasonable prices with guides, including members from Turkey's Search and Rescue Association (AKUT), with groups of up to 20 people. In addition to doing international tours to destinations, such as the St. Petersburg and Mestia, Georgia tour scheduled for this month, they will also be organizing a tour from August 13 to 18 of the eastern Black Sea Region and its plateaus. Kicking off and concluding in Trabzon, this tour will visit Çamlıhemşin, Pokut Yaylası, Ayder National Park and the Maral Waterfalls. From August 18 to 20, they will be in Gökçeada and in September they will visit destinations, such as Erzincan, Tunceli, Elaziğ and Şanliurfa. Other tours include a Dalyan activity tour held during the Feast of Sacrifice holiday, including boat trips and rafting excursions from Aug. 30 to Sept. 4. Visit duspatikasi.com for more info on upcoming excursions.
Middle Earth Travel: Expert trekking tours
Based in Nevşehir and founded and run by travelers, Middle Earth Travel specializes in trekking, mountaineering and biking tours. They offer self-catered tours, as well a number of scheduled tours this summer, such as a week-long mountain biking excursion in Cappadocia starting on Sept. 2. Throughout the summer, they will be organizing a weekly seven-day "Kaçkar Summit Trek." They will also hold a 10-day guided tour of the St. Paul Trail in the Taurus Mountains Sept. 9-18. While Sept. 10 to Sept. 16, there will be a seven-day tour of Cappadocia and on Sept. 17-23, their week-long Seven Capes tour will take participants through some of the most beautiful sections of the Lycian Way. Later in October, they will hold an eight-day Pirate Coast Trek of some of the most rugged and highest sections of the walk. Trust that you will be in good hands with one of the tour developers and guides for Middle Earth Travel being none other than British expat Kate Clow, the very founder of the Lycian Way. She researched, designed and waymarked the path and has published books on hiking the Lycian Way, the St. Paul Trail, the Evliya Çelebi Trail and on trekking in the Kaçkars.
Bukla Tur: Adventure travel at its best
Bukla Tur is one of Turkey's longest-standing adventure, nature and ecotourism companies, founded by tour guide cousins, Bülent Saraloğlu and Okan Yenigün, back in 2000. They now offer hundreds of specialized and organized tours in destinations throughout Turkey, as well as all over the world. They offer day trips, weekend camps and longer expedition tours, involving all sorts of activities, such as trekking, night hikes, rafting and rock climbing, to name a few. They also do international tours, such as their scheduled trips to the Swiss Alps, the Balkans and London, setting off on August 1, 2 and 7, respectively. However, their tours throughout Turkey are their real specialty, offered in various degrees of physical difficulty and longevity, such as their two-day tour of the İğneada Longoz Forest setting off on Aug. 5, Aug. 12 and Aug. 19 and their three-day East Black Sea Plateaus tour, which departs on Aug. 6 and Aug. 13, and their seven-day Trans Kaçkar Trekking tour, taking place on Aug. 6, Aug. 13, Aug. 20 and Aug. 27 this month only.