Did you know that you can walk from Eskişehir province to Bolu province and back from within the mountains? Beyyayla Cave, with its two mouths located on either side of the provincial border, makes this feat possible in about 40 minutes. This week, we will explore this little-known natural wonder in mountainous Eskişehir in northwestern Turkey.
Eskişehir is one of the most popular and charming cities in Turkey. It is a young-spirited town – a unique amalgamation of history and nature. Its many attractions include a vibrant downtown, vast parks, ancient Phrygian sites and Seljuk and Ottoman heritages. Most people have no idea, however, that in the mountains in the north of the Eskişehir metropolitan area exists a vast, long, double-mouthed cave that is perhaps one of the largest in Turkey: Beyyayla Cave.
How has this cave remained hidden throughout the decades? How has it not been publicized yet? Why does it remain in obscurity? These were the first questions that arose in my mind while entering the cavern.
Beyyayla Cave is located 1,5 kilometers to the northwest of the village of Beyyayla, which is a part of the Sarıcakaya district of Eskişehir, in the northern-most area of the province. Aside from its enormous size and astounding beauty, what makes this cave unique is the fact that it extends between two provinces. One mouth of the cave is located within the borders of Eskişehir and the other within the borders of Bolu.
Without having any idea of what to expect, I took a day trip to explore this natural beauty. I did not have high expectations, frankly, but Beyyayla Cave blew my mind.
Serendipitous hospitality from a local
The locals of Beyyayla village are friendly folk, as exemplified by this experience of mine. Walking to the entrance of the cave, I encountered a shepherd named Ahmet who was herding his flock nearby. He acknowledged me and started to converse. Ahmet was flattered to hear about my interest in the cave and my positive feedback about the village. He kindly offered to guide me through the cave, which he had explored himself several times. His level of awareness impressed me, particularly his wearing of a mask, despite the remoteness of his village. Making friendly conversation, we commenced our informal tour of the 500-meter-long (1,640-foot-long) cave, while staying physically distanced.
Exploring the cave
As we entered the mouth of the tunnel, two huge shepherd’s dogs, resting at that perfect spot where the cool draft from the cave blows into the outer heat became alert at the sound of our conversation. They appeared like mythological guards of a mysterious ancient portal leading into an unknown abyss. Ahmet confidently commanded the dogs to get out as we advanced, and they obeyed without hesitation. A couple of meters in, daylight dissipated, and pure darkness surrounded us as the air became chilly.
For those who venture in, your phone’s flashlight will be the only source of light in the cave. So, make sure your phone is fully charged or bring a handy flashlight.
Ahmet bestowed me with great insight into the cave and the area as we were walking to Bolu, which could not have made me happier. Supposedly, officials from the Ministry of Tourism and local authorities had inspected the tunnel some time ago for the purpose of driving interest to the region and livening up the cave's surrounding area. There were even plans for generating a lighting system that would agree with the ecosystem of the tunnel. According to Ahmet, however, no further measures were taken, and the cave was left to be.
Small streams and lakes
It was a pleasant surprise to find a stream flowing through the cave, as well as small ponds. On the other hand, it was much less pleasant to see dead fish on the ground. Ahmet told me that the fish swim through the cave in underground streams that originate from a small lake situated a couple of hundred meters away from the entrance.
Despite the abundance of water sources, however, these streams and ponds had significantly dried up during the summer months, making it easy to tread through the cave without our shoes getting wet. Ahmet described how, during the autumn and spring months, it is almost impossible to walk through the cave due to the water levels coming up to one’s waist.
In rainy season, the waters coming out of the cave drop from a height of 8 meters, creating a waterfall and forming the beginning of the Düden Doline.
The ceiling of Beyyayla Cave stretches as high as 50 meters, with its height varying between 30 and 40 meters in different parts. You’ll hear the flutter of hundreds of bats and other bird species who call the tunnel home. Ahmet and I kept our voices down so as not to disturb the inhabitants of this dark abode. The sound of bats flapping their wings echoing in the vast halls of the cave reminded me of old mystery films. It was an unforgettable acoustic experience.
Reaching the Bolu end
After a 20-minute hike over small rocks and larger boulders, we reached the other mouth of the cave, which put us in Bolu. To confirm our whereabouts, I checked our location from my phone and confirmed that we had crossed the provincial border.
There, you’ll find yourself blocked by a huge boulder on top of a small canyon after exiting from the Bolu end of the cave. While the path stops there, you can climb on top of the rock, doing so very carefully, to partially see the ravine.
So, how can I get to Beyyayla village from downtown Eskişehir?
Via public transportation
There is no direct public transportation to the village of Beyyayla. As a matter of fact, getting there via public transportation would be incredibly complex, requiring a lot of effort which, if you ask me, is not worth it.
Of course, if you don’t have your own vehicle and would still like to go, here is the most plausible plan. First, you must take a minibus from downtown Eskişehir to the towns of Mihalgazi or Sarıcakaya, which are located five minutes away from each by bus. These are the two nearest settlements to Beyyayla village. The bus schedule can be accessed from the official website of the municipality of Eskişehir.
From the towns of Mihalgazi or Sarıcakaya, you would need to hitchhike all the way to the village, which is not recommended under the current COVID-19 regulations. Once in Beyyayla, you would also have to take a 40-minute walk from the main square of the village to the cave.
With your own vehicle
I will admit that going to Beyyayla is not easy. With your own vehicle, you would need to simply follow the singular road from central Eskişehir to Sarıcakaya. As you near the district of Sarıcakaya, the landscape gets more hilly and higher in altitude.
Even though the road gets very curvy as your elevation increases, it is paved and wide enough all the way to Beyyayla village. I would still advise you to drive carefully. After Beyyayla, you will be driving on a dirt road until you reach the cave, but don’t let the route intimidate you. Even with a standard passenger vehicle, the road is perfectly fine to drive. Both sides of the route are covered with vegetation, which offers a picturesque view. After a few minutes of driving, you will see a small lake on your left. Keep to your right, and you will soon spot the huge mouth of Beyyayla Cave. Park your car where you see fit and enjoy the hike.
If you want to add a unique twist to your trip to Eskişehir or desire to discover hidden gems that will take your breath away, I suggest you add Beyyayla Cave to the top of your bucket list.