Three days in the Uludag Mountains in West Turkey, Part 2/2
The hike continues to the ridge of the mountain, where you can see lakes of amazing blue, and back to Bursa on a different route on the 3rd day
Walking trip, medium hard
Where: Uludag Mountains, West Turkey
Transport: you can reach the trail head by taxi from Bursa
Return trip: by metro after some more walk
Distance: about 56 km
Accommodation: hotel in Bursa (like Güneş Hotel, 75 lira (about 25 Euros/room)
Camping in the wild on the hill or there is an abandoned refuge on the ridge in case of bad weather
Supplies: just what you take with yourself (you can pick mushrooms)
This is the second part of a three-day trekking route in the Uludag Mountains. After spending the first night around 1900 m, you spend the better half of the second day climbing to nearly 2500 m to see the lakes beneath and then it’s a much easier walk along the ridge. After a short boring section along a dirt road you return to the forest, where you can camp, and spend the third day descending to the first village.
Depending on where you found a suitable place for camping the evening before, you may have to climb a bit in the morning to get back on the right track (as in our case). The path is then easy to follow (I mean clear, not physically easy!) for the next couple of kilometres along one of the southern side ridges. Around 2100 metres, there is a spring with clear cold water in a small valley. It’s a good idea to fill your bottles as there won’t be another one till late afternoon.
The path then leads towards an enormous mass of icy snow (in mid-July, anyway) that makes you realise how small you are. You need to turn left here, following the shallow valley as far as you finally reach another ridge. The snow was fine to walk on and we had lots of fun sliding and falling but of course you have to take proper care, especially near the edges. As you reach the top of this valley, you soon catch sight of the lakes situated deep (150 m beneath) under the peaks. At this point we weren’t following a path but don’t worry, the deep precipice stops you.
You have the choice here to walk down to the lakes (it would probably require an extra day if you also wanted to return to the top AND you’d have to mingle with with people who drive up to the lakes in 4WDs) or continue upwards to the main ridge, which is what we did. When you are there, you will find a clear path again that leads along the ridge, situated at around 2500 metres above sea level. If you turn left here, you can reach the highest peak in the Uludag (2543 m) in an hour or two. Our plan was to take another route down towards Bursa so we stopped here to take photos and just admire the views and then turned right.
The path along the ridge than takes you to an abandoned refuge that must have seen better days. Today it is partly collapsed and mostly empty but at least it’s not stinking of urine so it could be useful in case of a storm.
It would be possible to reach the top station of the cable-car (teleferik) if you continue to the north-west. But the last thing we wanted was the crowds of day-trippers so we crumbled down from the ridge and then followed a dirt road to the south as far as a switchback (see the map). There is a path leading into the forest at that point. Not far from there we found a great camping spot by a small brook. There is enough level room for three or four tents. We even found mushrooms (huge boletus and puffballs) but I wasn’t absolutely sure about them so we didn’t take risks.
Getting lost downhil
The third day is basically one huge descend with some tricky parts. As you leave the camping spot, you first continue in the forest and then arrive at a large clearing. The landscape is very different here from what you can see in the higher regions of the Uludag. There are large boulders with rounded surfaces among the pine trees as the path turns to the right after about one kilometre. As you follow the course of a small brook, you soon notice a group of houses that belong to two farms on the two banks. Huge fierce dogs barked like mad at us but the owners were very kind and took care of them until we passed. From there on you can still follow the brook. Soon you find yourself in a dense forest again and that’s where the tricky part is…
In fact we got lost at this point and just tried to keep the right direction to the north. (My phone switched off after nearly 3 days so we had no GPS. I tried to reconstruct the route as much as I could but don’t take this part of the map for granted). After crossing small ridges and ravines, we finally found a dirt road. It was unpassable for cars because of a landslide but from there on we knew we were on the right track.
Village from a soap opera
This road then leads you down to Cumalikizik along a long row of switchbacks that never seem to end. (OK, I guess it’s different when you know where you are but we didn’t). Cumalikizik is a cute little village at the foot of the Uludag mountains and it has narrow streets with old houses, many of which are now renovated. It is extremely popular with Bursa crowds and not only because it is within easy reach but because it was the scene of a Turkish soap opera a few years ago.
All this noise and the colourful shops and restaurants made us a bit disappointed. (We expected a quiet village with old people gossiping in the streets). You have a wide choice of places if you are thinking about dinner or just a tea before walking the last few kilometres to the metro station. But if you think you have walked enough you can also take a bus from the ourskirts of the suburb (Kestel).
As I mentioned above, an alternative to all this walking is to take the teleferik from Bursa to the highlands. There are several stops along the way, the highest being Kurbağa Kaya (Hotels). From there it is only about 2 hours’ walk to the ridge.