Three days in the Uludag Mountains in West Turkey, Part 1/2
From raspberry fields through pine forests to the top of the Uludag, where you can find snow in July
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)
Last year we were accidently stuck in Turkey (due to a little mistake we made at the airport) so we had to invent meaningful programs very fast. This walking trip of 3 days explores the northern part of the Uludag near Bursa, which can be accessed by bus from Istanbul in 4-5 hours.
Bursa itself deserves a few days if you are not short of time. Today it is the fourth largest city in Turkey and at one time it was the capital of the Ottoman Empire during its long history. Its nickname is Green Bursa because the built-in areas are scattered with leafy parks and gardens. Lovers of history and agriculture can find medieval mosques, caravanserai and mausoleums in the centre of the city. Perhaps the best-known attraction is the Great Mosque (Ulu Camii) from the 14th century. Of course, you don’t have to go far to dip into the bustling life of a Turkish bazaar, such as the Eski Aynali bazaar with the building of Koza caravanserai next to it.
You can warm up for the long hike if you take a light walk to the Green Mosque (Yesil Camii).It received its name from the tiles covering its outside walls, made in nearby Kütahya, although we thought they were blue rather than green… On the way there, you can also visit the most important mosque of the city, the Great Mosque. And if you still feel like walking, you can continue to a third mosque named after Emir Sultan, which hides in a pleasant park. Finally, we were enchanted by the castle of Bursa, the views of the old town from the castle walls and the small streets.
But let’s head to the mountains at last!
If you put up in downtown Bursa, it won’t be difficult to take a taxi even early in the morning. The start and end point of our trip is the suburb called Kestel, which is also accessible by metro (travels under the ground in the city) but then you have to walk a little more.
As you can see in the map, we go to the first village, Derekızık, half on foot and half by hitch-hiking and then did the same to reach Saitaibat, where a complete tourist resort (or trap) operates around a minor waterfall. The mountain hike actually starts from here (so far it has been sealed roads) so you can also negotiate a taxi to this village.
This settlement lies around 350 metres high and a rather steep road continues from here up to the top with lots of switchbacks. There is a simple gate across the road as you leave the village but you can walk around it as it is only meant to keep unauthorised car traffic out. At the beginning the road leads past farm houses and raspberry fields and raspberry is at its best in early July… The deciduous forest is gradually transitioning into pine trees and after the first 7-8 kilometres you can enjoy great views of Bursa and the surrounding plain. The only danger is posed by the shepherd dogs because the slopes of the Uludag are still widely used as pastures. Luckily, the shepherd was always around so we never had to run.
As the trees get smaller so you leave the houses and the signs of civilisation behind you. The dirt road leading to the main ridge of the Uludag is easy to follow most of the way (it peters away near the top but there you’ll find the other path when you can no longer go higher). But don’t expect any signs and there are precious few hikers. We saw no more than three vehicles all day.
Around 13 kilometres from Saitabat you leave the pine forest and from this point there are only tiny shrubs scattered in the thorny undergrowth. But the dried roots of the shrubs make for perfect firewood as we later experienced (we couldn’t get a gas cartridge in Bursa). At this height there’s nothing to disturb the views and you can see as far the sea.
After about 21 km our legs said it was enough for the day. We didn’t want to go much higher anyway as later we couldn’t have found any firewood. Still it wasn’t too easy to find the 2×2 metre patch of land that was more or less flat, wasn’t full of deadly thorny plants and no water was flowing across it. Still it was much more ideal than a corn field!
I guess it is obvious that the only possibility is camping in the wild but don’t worry, there are plenty of springs with crystal clear water and you can also wash in the brooks. I must add that the temperature was only 10 degrees at night in early July and the water in the brook was much colder than that…
If you liked this post, here’s the second part. And don’t hesitate to like it / share it 🙂