The Gorgeous Ayder Plateau of North East Turkey

Sitting on the foothills of the Kaçkar mountains, the gorgeous green Ayder plateau is one place in Turkey that captured my full attention. Numerous Turkish friends had told me about its beauty and simplicity, but I did not realize the plateau would leave me with an overwhelming urge to return.

Ayder plateau Turkey

It is in the north-east region near Rize and at the time of my visit in June, the coastal resorts of the south and west were receiving temperatures of mid 30s while I went to sleep, dressed in jumpers, socks and with two warm blankets.

The temperatures were average during the day but at night-time, drastically dropped. That blew my mind instantly because out of all the years I have spent in Turkey, I have never felt cold in the last month of June.


Early tourism in Ayder Plateau

Up until the 1980s, the Ayder plateau had always been used as a camping base for hikers who wanted to proceed further up the mountain. Over time, people came to appreciate the beauty of the plateau and accommodation choices upgraded from camping sites to traditional wooden hotels.

Ayder plateau hotel

The hotel

Of the camping sites that remain, there are signs asking visitors to be on the lookout for bears, who come down from the higher plateaus when food sources are low. Rather than be concerned, I found this potential danger to be a quirky aspect of the area, with hopes that I would see one and capture the best photo of my life. I was out of luck.

Hotel ayder plateau

In among the traditional hotels, is a unique landmark, the Gelin Tulu waterfall. Translated into “bride’s veil”, it gushes down the hillside, only freezing in winter when low temperatures can turn it to ice. I soon came to see so many waterfalls in the black sea region that the attraction wore off however, this waterfall is still my favourite.

Gelin tulu waterfall

I loved everything about the Ayder plateau. The place is unique, quite unlike any other destinations in the country. I loved the fact that locals used to let their cows roam the hillside unsupervised. Apparently, they never lose an animal. At sunset, all animals instinctively know the way home and they come back without prompting.

Locals of the ayder plateau

I want to return to Ayder Plateau

I spent one night in the Ayder plateau before moving on. It was not long enough. I discovered that the locals have a mixed culture of Laz and Hemsin but I never got the chance to make friends with them so I could  learn about their lives and traditions. I never went further up the mountain to explore other plateaus traditionally called yaylas by the Turks.

I only touched the surface of what the Ayder plateau has to offer.

Turkey ayder plateau

Turkey has always been a diverse country but it is not until I went from the beaches of the west coast to the mountains of the northeast that I realized just how diverse it really is. So it is not only a case of wanting to return. I have to return.

Restaurant ayder plateau

Menu for a local restaurant

My quest is to learn as much as possible about Turkey and its people, so this region is important. The landscape, weather, people, food, traditions, and music  are all completely different to any other place within the country. Some people would consider me well traveled in Turkey, but after visiting the Ayder  plateau, I now realize that I have only scratched the surface.

Welcome sign from the hotel

Welcome sign from the hotel

Readers Question : What do you think? If you have not been, would you visit the Ayder plateau?


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Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an Internet addict with a passion for history. Read my story here or leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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  1. says

    Thank you for sharing, Natalie. It is a great place! We stayed there for 2 days & loved it. Unfortunately it was rainy and foggy, but we managed to hike a bit. Definitely plan to go there for a longer time. Have you tried Laz Boregi, which is specific for this region? Have you been to the baths? Hot water saved us after hiking in the cold.

  2. says

    I have been to Ayder and its yaylas many many years back. After so many years, I can say that my several hours in a yayla up there was one of the peaceful, quietest hours of my life. I would like to go back and show it to my husband as well. Uzungol was nice as well but seemed more touristic to me for some reason.
    Ilke wrote about..Wrapping up Black Mountain…

  3. says

    For your sake, I hope you don’t get to take that really good picture of the bear.

  4. says

    . . another good post with some evocative photos. We’ll be spending time there next June when we’ll combine it with hunting out your Blue Slug that shouldn’t be there :-)
    Alan wrote about..The Other Dalyan 2

  5. says

    Wow. Great photos. I never pictures Turkey like this at all. When we get to Turkey we may need to travel a bit more than just the touristy areas.

  6. says

    I love Ayder! I also went in the summer and it was pleasantly cool. The old women spent their evenings knitting woolen socks. They were so pretty and warm, I bought more than my fair share. The area and the people are very beautiful. I hope you are able to get back there soon, Natalie!
    Corinne wrote about..Welcoming the Cows Home – The Almabtrieb

  7. says

    I was here in November and it was absolutely gorgeous! I travelled from Kars to Trabzon via bus and the views were stunning. I spent a day in Rize and it was just perfect. Lunch at the Evvel Zaman restaurant was simply delicious, perhaps one of the best meals I had in Turkey.

    • says

      A must visit place for everyone. It is one of my favorites as well. Spread the word Mandy

    • Nat says

      Looking forward to your updates Alan. Enjoy

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