Starting from the Eyüp Sultan Tomb in Istanbul and extending to Sufi philosopher Mevlana Jalaladdin Rumi's tomb in Konya, the "Sufi Trail" is a route preferred by tourists in winter as well.
The 801-kilometer (498-mile) Sufi Trail, which includes locations where Sufis, poets, alims (a learned Muslim) and scholars lived in the past, has become one of the favorite routes in the country, among locals and foreigners alike.
Traveling together in a group from the Eyüp Sultan Tomb in Istanbul, travelers pass through Bursa, Bilecik, Eskişehir and Afyonkarahisar on foot or by bicycle from Yalova, where they pass by ferry and reach Konya at the end of an average of 40 days.
Travelers, who generally prefer this route in spring and summer, travel part of the way by walking on the snow-covered route in winter.
Members of the Yalova Ecotourism and Healthy Living Association, who went to Kurtköy village from the thermal district of Yalova by shuttles, walked along the Kurtköy-Güneyköy route of the Sufi Trail, which is approximately 16 kilometers long.
Passing through the region where the snow is 15 centimeters (6 inches) thick from time to time and walking under dense fog, the travelers completed the track, which includes ice-cold waters and magnificent natural beauties, after a seven-hour hard journey.
Association President Ahmet Yiğit told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they are working to bring the villages in the surrounding provinces and districts, especially in Yalova, into ecotourism.
Yiğit said that the Sufi Trail was included in the country's cultural routes in 2014 and extended all the way to Konya.
"As part of our promotional activities, nearly 30 foreign participants have come to walk since 2019. They complete the journey in 40 days. Our main goal is to ensure that domestic and foreign travelers stay in villages every 20-25 kilometers that they walk," he said.
He explained that the association wants villagers to generate income and revive old traditions in villages. "With the implementation of village mansions in each village, it will be beneficial for people who make this walk to stay there," he added.
Stating that they sometimes take different routes on the Sufi Trail, Yiğit said that as of May, they aim to take groups from Turkey and abroad on these tracks.
Nurhan Oruç, who has been participating in the activities organized by the association in the region for five years, expressed that she is happy that the Sufi Trail passes along the Kurtköy-Güneyköy track.
Oruç stated that it was an arduous trek because it was covered in snow but very enjoyable. "We experienced almost everything on this track. There was no snow at the beginning of the route. As we climbed, we reached the region with snow under the fog. I recommend it to everyone. People were already locked in their homes during the pandemic. We couldn't go out of our houses. Being in nature and breathing fresh air feels very good, it gives us peace," she said.
Serap Vural, who has been working in the management of the association for five years, professed that being in nature makes her very happy.
"Our bike tours, walks and trips are very enjoyable. Today was a bit tiring but it was a beautiful track. It's my first time on the Sufi Trail. It was very enjoyable and beautiful for me. I hope I will complete the other tracks too," she explained.
Vural mentioned that foreign travelers in particular are extremely eager to take the Sufi Trail and that these tracks are being developed especially for them. "Outside of this, there are also people coming from many cities around Turkey to participate on the walk," she said.