The nature and beauty surrounding Lake Çıldır in Ardahan draws tourists from far and wide all year round. It is the second-biggest lake and the biggest freshwater lake in the eastern Anatolia at 123 square kilometers. With tourism options offered both in summer and winter, the lake sees tourists all year long.
Attracting thousands of visitors from Georgia, Nakhichevan and Iran in addition to locals, the lake is a popular spot with 17 fish species along with nature, flora and other plants and animals.
Visitors can go on troika rides on the ice and go ice fishing in winter, whose snowy landscape turns to peerless evergreen scenery in summer.
Thanks to newly offered boat trips by the Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry, tourists can enjoy the lake scenery with a different view.
Ardahan Provincial Director of Culture and Tourism Efsal Alantar told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Lake Çıldır is one of the most prominent nature and tourism spots in Ardahan. Noting that all kind of studies conducted on the lake are important, Alantar said: "As the biggest lake in Ardahan, Lake Çıldır is the second-biggest lake in eastern Anatolia after Lake Van. Lake Çıldır offers different beauty every season. It has a strategic importance for tourism. Also, various facilities like [Turkish horseback games] entertain visitors. We host tourists from all around the country."
Explaining that one of the most important features of the lake is that it is totally covered by ice in winter, Alantar said: "The lake offers a visual feast for activities like troika rides, ice fishing and ice sports. With an altitude of 959 meters [3,146 feet], it is a special spot for Turkey."
Alantar also said the number of tourists highly increased with the excursion boats and bungalows. "We express our gratitude to Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan. These boats doubled our tourism potential. We have seen that the number of tourists increases by the day. Thanks to these new facilities, Ardahan tourism will be revived," he said.
One of the visitors, Beyhan Demirbaş, said he came from Ankara to see the beauty of the lake, which has clean air and splendid nature. "I'm from Ankara, but I'm thinking about moving here. It is more beautiful here than all the other holiday resorts. I hope its virgin nature can be preserved," he said.