The Black Sea's Mountain Pastures: Turkey's Very Own Switzerland

Black Sea Region
Black Sea Region | © kareni/Pixabay
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

Known as yayla in Turkish, the evergreen mountain pastures of the Black Sea region are famous for their alpine style houses that overlook the valley and the snowcapped mountains. Easily comparable to Switzerland’s landscape, here are some of Turkey’s most beautiful yaylas.

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Ayder Yaylası

One of the most popular alpine pastures belonging to Turkey’s Black Sea region, the Ayder Yaylası is especially attractive due to the many accommodation options. At an altitude of around 1,350 meters, the deep green foliage, the fresh air, and the health boosting hot springs are all reasons to spend some time in heavenly Ayder.

Also known as Demirkapı Yaylası, the Haldizen alpine pasture is located at the base of the Haldizen Mountains and is therefore surrounded by beautiful mountain lakes. Completely untouched and lacking any kind of accommodation, this is the perfect place to go hiking in an undisturbed natural environment. The closest area with hotels and restaurants is the beautiful hidden village of Uzungöl (around 20km).

Pokut

Even though trees are usually unable to live above an altitude of 1800 meters, the Pokut alpine pasture is quite lucky due to the mild winds that have fostered the growth of lush pine forests. One of the highlights is watching the clouds float by at lower altitudes, through the deep green of the landscape, while you enjoy your stay at one of the many accommodations higher up the mountainside.

Gorgit

Another untouched alpine pasture that’s mostly inhabited by locals, you’ll have to hike your way up via walkways to this village at an altitude of 1700 meters. It’s fair to say that the lack of proper roads is exactly why Gorgit has managed to protect its natural habitat as well as the fact that there is only one small family-run hotel.

Samistal

Located between the Palovit and Kavrun valleys, the Samistal alpine pasture is famous for its historic stone houses that are completely in tune with their natural surroundings. One of the yaylas that is located at the highest altitude, you’ll fall in love with the view that’s set entirely over the clouds. You’ll have to hike up to Samistal for a day because there are no accommodation options.

Hazindağ

A great day trip from Ayder or Pokut, the Hazindağ alpine pasture is around a one hour walk away and one of the most striking features are the beautiful natural wood alpine houses. Even though there are no accommodation options here, you can still spend the day hiking and admiring the view, especially when the fog sets in like an iridescent white lake over the valley.

Gito

One of the best Turkish alpine pastures to take some stunning photos, at 2100 meters the Gito Yaylası is especially striking when the clouds embrace the whole landscape. You can ride up to Gito with a mountain bike and stay at Koçira Pansiyon (the area’s only hotel).

Beyazsu

Located at the base of the Karçal Mountains, the Beyazu Yayla can be reached by vehicle from the town of Borçka. One of the main attractions is the magnificent Yıldız glacial lake that’s about a two-hour hike from Beyazsu (but definitely worth the effort).

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