CHASING THE BEST FALL…

FALL IS AS GLOOMY AS IT IS VISUALLY FESTIVE. AS THE SUN KEEPS YOU WARM, IT ALSO SHINES ON VALLEYS, MOUNTAINS, FORESTS, AND COUNTRYSIDE WITH COLORFUL TONES. SO GO ON THE ROAD AND GET READY TO CHASE THE BEST FALLS FROM GREEN, AND YELLOW, TO ORANGE, AND RED ALONG WITH NATURE.   

From lakes to mountains
In the Kapıkırı (Herakleia) along Lake Bafa, you will find the most beautiful forms of nature in the autumn. This is a peaceful settlement with its roosters, cows, and plantations overlooking an immense lake. These shores of the Aegean are ideal for hikers and those who want to spend a few quiet days. Geography is amazing and full of surprises: the solitude of the Temple of Athena, the remains of the Byzantine Castle and the remains of the islands in the lake, the villagers’ rhythm of life in harmony with nature in all seasons, the serenity in the night… The geography out here also welcomes you with unusual landscapes. Trekking is a must for this kind of place. If you have a good guide, your pleasure is doubled. It would be beneficial to meet with the founding brothers of Selene’s Pansiyon, Kubilay and Tamer. You can go trekking to the prehistoric caves and see the rock paintings in the region by following the trails then you can also see the Yediler Monastery hidden in the skirts of the Latmos Mountains (Beşparmak) and its suffering room hollowed out in a rock and decorated with frescoes on its ceilings. The Stone Age humans and the monks who retreated at the suffering rooms located in high altitudes left traces in the mountains. From the rocks on the top of the monastery, a breathtaking view of the lake is waiting for you. The Beşparmak Mountains covered by volcanic rocks are filled with rocks of interesting shapes as if they had fallen from the sky. On the banks of Lake Bafa, you can eat mullet or rarely found garfish cooked in earthenware; you can take a boat trip at the lake on one of the boats of Selene’s Pansiyon. Jam, butter and cheese are also produced locally.

Crimson fall
There are innumerable alternatives of natural and archeological sites for history, trekking, sightseeing and photography enthusiasts around Isparta in the western Mediterranean, where mountains meet lakes. One of the most striking ones in the fall is Lake Kovada National Park. This place, which presents a little bit of a view of the Alps and some golden foothills, is a wildlife habitat. Autumn is crimson here. Before the leaves of the trees around the lake fall down, they turn to crimson rather than yellow. The Kovada is an extension of Lake Eğirdir. When the narrow valley was filled with alluvium, it took its present shape. The forests around Lake Kovada, which spans an area of 40 square kilometers, make up 70 percent of the national park. In its rich vegetation, the species of trees such as red pine, larch, stemmed/stemless-mossy oaks, holm oak, tree of heaven and juniper, as well as sandal, arbutus, shrubs, terebinth, wild olives, phllyrea, turpentine, sumac, medlar, blackberry, wild rose, laurel, gorse, and rhamnus oleoides. Camping, hiking, photography, and climbing are indispensable activities. In the lake fauna, there are freshwater bass, freshwater lobster, and carp. The lake is not suitable for swimming since it is mossy, but you can camp and picnic on the shore; enjoy the silent mornings of the lake and the autumn colors reflected in the water.

Untouched Beauty
Macahel is one of the untouched corners of the Black Sea Region, perhaps Turkey. Macahel Basin, Caucasus’ extension in Turkey, is the name of the valley up to Georgia. This virgin basin is one of the four ecologically important regions of Turkey and the focal point of scientific research. It is one of the four model areas, on which we are working to make it a World Heritage site, and it is within 200 regions across Europe. The old, natural forests (rain forests) of the Eastern Black Sea Region are one of the rare areas of virgin lands. It has an extraordinary biological diversity because it is natural and wild. There are 356 plants species, of which about three are endemic, and three endemic bug species. Moreover, one of the three most important bee species in the world, Pure Caucasus Bee, has been able to maintain its purity here because one side of the valley remains as a political side, as the other side remains acting like a natural frontier. Trekking and nature lovers know Macahel very well; monumental trees, unspoiled wooden architecture, waterfalls, glacial lakes, century-old carved wooden mosques… Some of the wooden houses are calm, warm lodgings where Georgian food is cooked. After the borders were settled in 1921, some villages remained in Georgia and some in Turkey. Today, there are eighteen villages in the region known as the Macahel-Camili Basin, six in Turkey, twelve on the Georgian border. There are still people who have relatives on both sides. The largest one among the six villages is the central named Camili, at an altitude of 400, right on the border of Georgia. 99 percent of the population is Georgian. The locals go to Borçka, where there are regular shuttle services, for their needs and official affairs. The 50-kilometer road from Borçka to Macahel takes about two hours to travel. Since Macahel is reached only through the Macahel Pass at 1850 meters of altitude, the road can be closed for a long time in winter, which is why autumn is an ideal time to see it.

Backyard of İstanbul
One of the oxygen-rich areas of the Anatolian side of Istanbul is Polonezköy in the forest, which is inviting with its nature throughout the year. In the Ottoman period, after the Polish Uprising of 1830, Polonezköy, founded in 1842 by Prince Adam Czartoryski, the political leader of the Polish exiles, still keeps the Polish traditions today. The village, which met with tourism from the beginning of World War II, hosted important figures such as Atatürk, Hungarian pianist Franz Liszt, French writer Gustave Flaubert, Czech writer Karel Droz, Pope 23rd Jan and former Polish Foreign Minister Adam Rapacki. There are two places that will remind the residents their past the most and show the tourists the old days the best: The Village Cemetery, which includes 270 graves including ancient nameless tombs made from earth, and a reflection of history and life of the village, the Memorial House of Aunt Zofia of 1882…  There are icons and a Virgin Mary statue in the garden of the Czestochowa Virgin Mary Church, which was used as the headquarters of the Turkish army in World War I. The walking trail through the forest among the chestnut trees for five kilometers is particularly impressive in the fall. Enjoy a walk around with carriages, horseback rides, swimming in the hotel and restaurant pools, barbecues on wooden benches overlooking the lush green vines, tasting Polish pastries, sitting around a fireplace and chatting with welcoming Polish residents. The Wooden Sculpture Exhibition in front of the Polonezköy Culture House and the Cherry Festival, held every year in June, where the folk dances and folk music groups from Poland take place, should not be forgotten. Turkey’s first world-class BMX trail is also noteworthy for cycling enthusiasts.

In another planet
From Erzurum, one of the coldest cities in Eastern Anatolia, you will find the promises of the autumn light on the road between Narman and Oltu districts. After passing Tortum, famous with the Tortum Falls at a distance of 58 km to Erzurum, there is an exit marked Narman. When you take that exit, at a distance of 38 km, you will find magnificent rocks adorned with natural colors, and a red canyon on your right, and a formation similar to the fairy chimneys in the valley. A steady winding path to the right continues through this canyon. As soon as the Ulukaya village is passed, the colors of the gypsum hills are magnificent, whether you are a photographer or not. The gypsum minerals formed in the more arid regions are colored differently in each layer. The village of Toprakkale, which is located on the edge of the gypsum domes, also heralds the autumn with its nature.  Walk between the formations that are very high in the canyon. The sun will become redder before sunset, and give you the feeling that you are somewhere between a new planet and the Wild West. You can also see this place on your way back to Erzurum via Pasinler. It is a good idea to crown this route with an exquisite cağ kebab in Oltu.