Black Sea; Forsaken Paths

Day 1 Trabzon Zorlu (Mon)
Arrival at Trabzon, a city founded four years earlier than Istanbul in 7th C BC. We will walk along the narrow streets watching  to see the vegetable markets and medieval edifices as Fatih Mosque (former Church of Christokephalos-Golden Headed Virgin), and St. Sophia Museum from 13rd C.

Day 2 Trabzon Zorlu Hotel (Tue)
we drive to  Sumela Monastery to visit the magnificent structure dedicated to Virgin Mary. It looks like it is perched on Mt.Karadag just like an eagle's nest. We have a steep trail with several switch backs to the top.

Day 3 Salpazari  (Wed)
We will enjoy the morning drive along the shore to Besikduzu and then up the valley to Salpazari. The colorful weekly market on Wednesday is a great chance to see to meet Cepni tribesmen from the surrounding villages doing errands before moving to the mountains for the summer months.
Our hosting families will meet and accompany us us to Sayvancatak.

Day 4-5 Sayvancatak 800m. (Thu-Fri)
We will join villagers on their daily works like weaving, harvesting, cooking, grinding corn at water mill and visit neighbours in the afternoons. 
The most conspicuous characteristic of Cepni women that catches the eye at first sight and makes them different from the rest of the women of the Black Sea region is their long, colorful dresses mainly in red and ornamented with scales, so proudly at festivities and weddings, even when they are engaged in the daily works at home, barn or field.

Day 6 Hike to Fol (Sat)
We will say good bye to our friends in the village and start hiking up and down the hills until Fol, a small brook-side settlement famous for its civil architecture and pine honey.

Day 7 Hike to Akkese 1800 (Sun)
After tasting some honey famous here we will continue hiking thru dense oriental pine forests and rhodedentron bushes to Akkese located at timberline.

Day 8 Hike to Eskala at 2300 m. (Mon)
Early morning, leaving the emarald forests behind we will start hiking on a steep hill. Trees will soon be replaced by low bushes and green grass covering the ground. This is the first sight of life yayla; air getting clearer and thinner as we ascend. Eskala gets its name from an old castle, which once stood here. They like this place for its vast meadows and ample water springs. We watch Eskala with a bird’s eye view from a pass.

Day 9-10-11 Eskala (Tue-Wed-Thu)
A personal and unique chance of experiencing Cepni culture we will join them for daily activities; sheering the sheep, shepherding flocks over the hills, fetching water from the springs, cooking various dishes of kale, corn, and fresh beans. A culture that claims discordance from central Asian days that goes back as far 2000 years ago.

Day 12 Kadirga-Zigana Pass Trabzon (Fri)
Joined by all our friends t Eskala, we will walk&drive to nearby mountain market Kadirga to interact with all other communities who would come to buy weekly provisions.
Fresh butter, cheese, gum, a favorite wild flower with bright yellow color, status, daily butchered meat, all kinds of fruits that is driven from the coastline as no fruit grows at such altitude, bells for cows and sheep made of brass and tin.
People living above timberline used to be exempt from taxation and certain restrictions in exchange to keep the mountain passes safe for travel and trade in old days. Kadirga is also where various border disputes and communal matters are handled.

We say goodbye to Cepnis in early afternoon and as they start walking back to
 their yayla homes it is time for us to drive to Trabzon. Zigana pass was the only way silk road branched off towards to Black Sea. This is where Xenephon crossed during his well documented journey (Return of the Ten Thousands) in 401 B.C.

Day 13 Fly out. (Sat)



What to Bring

Imperial Ottoman
Caves and Castles
Turquoise Blue Waters
Gods Saints and Dervishes
Black Sea; Forsaken Paths
Emerald Hills and the East
Ararat and Nemrud
Magic Light


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