Nog een paar dagen en dan ga ik paardrijden in het Turkse Taurus-gebergte, een unieke reis waar ik al een poosje naar uitkijk. Bij deze reis worden de spullen nog vervoerd op pakpaarden. Het aantal deelnemers is beperkt tot slechts vijf mensen. Meer dan 10 jaar geleden (1998) deed ik mijn eerste ruiterruis, waarbij er ook pakpaarden werden gebruikt. Uit ervaring weet ik dat iedereen naast het paardrijden hard moet werken, o.a. om kamp te maken, te koken en de paarden te verzorgen.
De meeste spullen heb ik de afgelopen weken al verzameld, zodat ik nu onbezorgd naar aanstaande vrijdag kan uitkijken!
Independent trail in the Taurus mountains
This horse riding expedition through Mount Ala (Ala Daglar), in the chain of the Taurus Mountains near Nigde, is for very fit riders looking for adventure. The trail will take you through inaccessible lands of garrigues, large pine forests, water falls, bare plateau, remote mountain villages where traditions are still alive. Highlights include the ascension of a 3200 m high pass up to the Plateau of the Seven Lakes’ moon like landscape, and meeting semi-nomadic families and their cattle up the mountains. Prior to setting off for the mountains, you will also ride for a few hours through the magical landscape of the Cappadocia region, where the ranch is located.
Performed independently with pack horses, this trail is also designed as an introduction to horse-trailing techniques.
Whether you are planning your first long-distance trail and need to put theory into practice, or are already an experienced horseback traveler, this is an opportunity to trek with like-minded riders and share ideas, tips and information on trail-riding techniques and equipment.
Caring for horses, participants will have the opportunity to learn how to load/unload a pack horse, tie a variety of knots, learn about veterinary basics, horse nutrition, horse-shoe and tack fitting, etc, throughout the week.
- You must be able to care for and tack up your horse yourself. Your help with the pack horses will be appreciated;
- Your max. weight: 80 kg;
- 1 pack-horse for every 2 riders;
- Lunch picnic, dinner on the wood fire;
- Very basic comfort at the bivouac (you must bring your own tent. No shower tent provided).
- Only one date in 2009: 26 June – 05 July;
- 9 nights inc. 4 nights in guest houses and 5 under the tent;
- 8 riding days; 4 – 5 hours on horseback each day;
- 2 English-speaking guides for 5 riders;
- Riding level: intermediate and above. On this trail, however, your riding technique will matter less than your excellent physical condition, your outdoor living skills and your interest in nature trailing;
- Pace: mostly walk;
- You must be in excellent physical condition. This mountain trail involves several hours of walking up very steep paths.
Your guides know the area well but, in true horseback traveling fashion, the route is not strictly set, to allow for exploration, chance and adventure ! We may ride only 3 hours one day on rough terrain, and spend 6 hours in the saddle the next day until we find a suitable camp place with enough food and water for the horses. The itinerary provided is only indicative and subject to change.
Day 1 – Depart for Kayseri via Istanbul. Our chauffeur meets you at the airport with your name written on a board. You are transferred within 50 mn to central Cappadocia. Dinner with your guides and overnight at your village guest house.
Day 2 – In the morning, the minibus drives you within 10 mn to our ranch where you meet the horses and get acquainted with the tack before setting off on a 2-hour ride through Cappadocia’s magical landscape. Lunch at the ranch. In the afternoon, the guides show you how to load a pack horse before setting off on another tour around the ranch to test the equipment and your ability to lead a pack-horse. Dinner and overnight at your guest house.
Day 3 – In the morning, horses and riders are transferred within 2 hours to Mount Pozanti near Nigde, at the foot of the Taurus chain. Picnic lunch. In the afternoon, we set off through the hills in the direction of Mount Ala to our first camp spot.
Day 4 – We progress through the large expanse of green and ocre land of Mount Pozanti towards the majestic Mount Ala. Spring comes late to this part of Turkey and fields are still covered in wild flowers. We bivouac in the valley of Demirkazik by a clear water stream, at the foot of Mount Ala.
Day 5 – We pass the tiny village of Demirkazik and ascend the first part of Mount Ala on horseback. We find the first ‘door’ of the mountain and, leading the horses, we start our 3-4 hours walk up the steep path leading to the Plateau of the Seven Lakes. We take several breaks en route and we stop for picnic with great views over Demirkazik valley. We reach the bare plateau and its surreal, moon like landscape in the late afternoon. The altitude is 3200 m and the temperature is much colder. We bivouac near the camp of semi-nomadic families who have come to spend the summer here with their sheep and mules.
Day 6 – Leaving the Seven Lakes behind us, we start our slow descent down the south-east face of Mount Ala. Getting off the horses when necessary, we ride down yet another muleteer path, then through large pine forests, until we reach the small wooden village of Ulupinar and our camp place by a small water fall.
Day 7 – In the morning, we ride in the valley along the stream to Karpuzbasi. We buy supplies and horse food from the locals, surrounded by the village kids. We continue towards the impressive water falls of Selale, and we stop to rest for the afternoon in a wooden guest house overlooking the stream. Dinner and overnight at the guest house.
Day 8 – We leave the valley of Selale and we progress up the mountains towards summer pastures. A shepherd family invites us to drink the traditional Turkish tea and try their home-made bread and goat yogourt. On the way, we come across cattle grazing freely and peasants harvesting fields by hand. We progress further along the crests of the mountains through more pine forests, garrigues and narrow paths to our bivouac spot on a strecht of bare land next to the camp of another nomadic family.
Day 9 – We ride through green hills and natural circuses scattered with volcanic rocks, where we can observe herds of maroon horses and mules. Leaving the high mountains behind us, we descend through hills and fields of high grass towards the village of Camliça, which we reach in the late afternoon. We are met by our chauffeur who drives you back to your guest house in Cappadocia for dinner and overnight, while the horses are transferred back to the ranch.
Day 10 – After breakfast, transfer back to Kayseri airport for your flight to Istanbul.
Personal equipment – what to bring
Up from Day 3, riders will not be able to find films, batteries, cigarettes, wet wipes or shampoo, etc. There will be no mobile phone coverage. .
Maximum 25 kg of personal equipment packed in a soft luggage comprising the following essential equipment:
- A tent (max. 4 kg and compact);
- A good sleeping bag as nights in altitude are cold;
- An individual mattress (foldable/inflatable);
- 4 x 1 liter water flasks;
- Good walking shoes or hiking boots (no riding boots !!!);
- A torch;
- A knife;
- For the high altitude: a good windproof jacket + warm jumper or fleece;
- Sun lotion;
- Hard hat or sun hat. Riding without a hard hat is at your own risk;
- Your own pharmacy;
- Wet wipes.
The price includes:
- The loan of a horse and riding equipment;
- 1 pack-horse for every 2 riders;
- 2 English speaking guides;
- 4 overnights in pension, 5 nights in bivouac, full board except drinks;
- Regular transfers from/to Kayseri airport;
- Transfer by minibus from/to Cappadocia.
Summer comes late to this part of Turkey and the weather should be sunny but not too hot, with low risk of storm. The Plateau of the Seven Lake (day 5) may be windy and cold, especially at night.