Demirkapi plateau is probably the most surreal place I have visited in Turkey. Located in the Kackar Mountains, we had spent the previous night in Uzungol and the next day, made our way up the mountain using the Haldizen road that was lined with forests, twisted at every opportunity and ran directly next to a fast flowing stream.
The aim was to see Yayla houses, which are summer homes that people migrate to when the temperatures of coastal areas become hot. The idea is the further up the mountain you live, the cooler it is.
The Yayla Houses
Upon arriving, our guide took us to view a local house. Constructed by hand from wood, it was plain and drab. The roof was covered with slates of tin, secured down with stones and wood.
Bending down to get through the small front door, I entered into a room that was a living room, bedroom and kitchen, all combined.
At the end of the room, was a balcony with an impressive view of pure greenery. Everywhere I looked was rolling mountains and hills covered in fertile land, blotted only with the occasional spot of snow. This baffled me because it was the end of June and on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, I knew the beaches were packed with people in bikinis.
The old man who owned the house, handed me a hot potato that he took off the wood burning stove that also doubled up at night-time for a heater. I had many questions to ask him but the harsh, guttural sound of his accent made it impossible to understand him.
Life in Demirkapi Plateau
The guide translated for me, and confirmed my original thoughts. Corner shops, supermarkets, post offices and doctor surgeries do not exist in this community. Children were picked up and taken to school far away. Vegetables were home-grown, while cows and sheep provided milk.
They made their own cheese, butter, bread, and chickens roamed freely in the roads, unaware of what their fate would be. Occasionally, a shopping trip was made to pick up items like salt or sugar but a majority of the time, people were living off the land.
Locals have become used to strangers tramping through their village, approximately 3370 metres up the Kackar Mountains. The height is emphasised by the constant layer of fog that had settled, blanking out the blue sky and everywhere I went, was the sound of gushing waterfalls, far in the distance.
Word has now spread and guides regularly take tourists up there or independent hikers are welcome to pitch a tent basically anywhere they like. It seemed locals were amused by the interest by foreigners in their summer lives but take the opportunity to sell homemade crafts and textiles as souvenirs.
The lifestyle of living off the land is appealing; but I could not do it. I prefer to have everything on my doorstep and be near the sea, not high in mountains in remote destinations. According to the Turkish tourism industry though, yayla and plateau tourism for the Northeast of Turkey is on the increase. Will places like Demirkapi Plateau look totally different in 15 years?
To learn more about the Kackar Mountains and yayla houses, check out these awesome photos and video by the Expert Vagabond, Matthew Karsten.
Question for readers : Would you visit Demirkapi Plateau?