Nemrut mountain national park, in southeastern Turkey, is a bit remote but utterly charming. It’s best known for the mountaintop giant heads, built by a megalomaniac king, King Antiochos I, a few thousand years ago and many people just go for the relics. We discovered the lower regions are filled with wonderful hiking trails and rushing streams and even more antiquities. It was very relaxing and everyone agreed it was our favorite trip within Turkey.
On our second consecutive long weekend (it was Labor Day this time), we went with a group of friends to Adiyaman. There we were met by Bayram, the owner of Karadut Otel Pansyon, who drove us an hour out to his place in the national park. We spent a day touring the sights, starting with sunrise on the giant heads, after a long nap we hiked around the valley and relaxed. After lunch Bayram’s son took us out on a tour of the region including the Roman bridge, the “new” Kahata Castle, and the Arsameia Ruins. The next day we took a leisurely walk around the valley floor. As you can see, the pace of life might be slow, but the beauty of the countryside is spectacular.
In the valley it was a perfect spring day, 70 degrees and sunny. Flowers were in bloom, and springs trickled their way into little waterfalls burbling along our hiking path. Just 20 minutes away, up at the top of Nemrut it was cold, exceptionally windy, and there was still deep snow on the ground. We had imagined a dry, brown, landscape and were awestruck by just how green and rich the region was.
I would love to return to the Pensyon and spend time in Karadut again. It is a perfect retreat. While the food was simple, it was good. The vegetables, eggs, and meat served in the Pensyon were produced by our host and his family members. A traditional farm to table establishment. They made us feel at home and were beyond hospitable. On our way to the airport, Bayram took us to his favorite shop for the regional dish, cig kofte. We were passing a wedding, and he stopped for 10 minutes to introduce us to his friends. We had a cup of tea, danced with the bridal party, and cheered for their wedding. It was a one of a kind trip.