Mt Kackar Massif
Key information: Mt Kackar Massif
- Circle or cross the magnificent main Kaçkar massif, with its broken peaks, wild ridges, glaciers, baless, meadows and deep valleys.
- Camp in wonderful sites, often alone. Climb 3,932m Mt. Kaçkar to gain huge views of the range.
- Walkopedia rating88
- Natural interest16
- Human interest5
- Negative points0
- Total rating88
- Length: Variable
- Maximum Altitude: 3,932m
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
The Kaçkars’ central massif contains its highest mountains, and arguably its finest scenery, and a huge variety of walks, from day explorations to classic (Top 100) multi-day circuit and traverses.
The “standard” circuit of Mt Kaçkar and its Massif can be done in 6 days, or extended as desire and circumstances dictate.
Day 1. Start from Olgunlar. Take the first walk noted above past Dibe Yayla to Buyuk Deniz Lake. Over the top. Moderately hard. 5-6 hours. Camp.
Day 2. Along river valleys to Derebasi Lake. Moderate walk. This is west of the peak. Camp there. Mules will have taken a different route. 5-6 hours.
Day 3. South and then east to Atsiz Lake which is south of the peak. Moderate. About 7 hours.
Day 4. Hard climb northwards 3 hours to the peak. Before mid-July crampons are needed owing to ice. Descent south-eastward to Dilberduzu camp (4 hours) where the mules will have arrived.
Day 5. Return to Olgunlar easwards along the valley – 4 hours max.
There is an eight-day version, as well as other options in this vast mountain range.
Continued with an Altiparmak traverse, it can make an unforgettable fortnight.
Various crossings can be devised, the best known being the two day route from Yukan Karron to Olgunlar (or vice versa).
Yusufeli, the main southern approach town, has a certain small-town charm.
Around Olgunlar. Above Yusufeli is the hamlet of Olgunlar, said to be as close as humans live to the south-west side of Mt Kackar itself. It is accessed on rough mountain roads. The Pansyon Kackar is said to be a good base. Ismail and his family can provide guides, mules for carrying kit, and camping equipment. Bring your own sleeping bags, and alcohol if required.
There are two valleys leading upwards from the hamlet, offering gentle walks for the less ambitious.
The shorter one starts heading north and then swings west towards Mt Kackar itself. Mountains rise to 3,000m plus around it, bare of trees but with abundant grasses and wild flowers. There are many old field-surrounds built of thick walls of heaped stones, clearly from a time when human labour was abundant, cheap or biddable (or all three). Summer flowers are said to be wonderful. Reach Dibe Yayla (a nearly-abandoned herding station), and then carry on up towards the head of the valley where there is a campsite, with Jagged peaks ahead. The path swings to the right and apparently finds a way into the northern valleys of the Kackar range, allowing long-distance walkers to go down to the Black Sea.
The second valley heads west, with a similar landscape of impressive mostly treeless peaks. The less ambitious may turn back to Olgunlar, making it a marvellous day’s walk. Some five hours walk from Olgunlar gets you to Atsiz Lake, from which the following day you can climb Mt Kackar (a moderately hard climb), camping after descending and returning to Olgunlar on the third day, though the more energetic do the whole expedition in two days.
Thank you to Alex Duncan for providing the above information.
These are tough walks in high, remote mountains: be prepared.
See our Kackar Mountains page for detailed practical information.
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Mt Kackar and surrounds
The Kackar Mts are the highest part of the Pontic Alps, which stretch for many miles along the Turkish Black Sea coast, parallel to but set back from the sea. Some parts, especially on the north side along the Black Sea are forested, while to the south, the trees are mainly in the valley bottoms (rain shadow effect, no doubt).
Every kind of ethnic group and religion has ruled and/or lived in the area over the millennia, and vestiges of some remain alongside the very dominant Muslim Turks now.
The north side is much more developed with easier access (fly in to Trabzon). Yusufeli is the main town on the south side, and that’s the route we took. From Istanbul you can fly in to Erzurum and be picked up by a car (two hours) or a dolmus (minibus, three times per day – 2.5 hours), or to Kars (and see the amazing Ani, the atmospheric former capital of an Armenian kingdom brought to ruins by earthquakes and invasion).
Yusufeli is scruffy, but with a certain small-town charm serving rural and mountain people. Our hotel (Almatur) is modern, family-run, by the river. However, the suggestion of a mountain guide was met with blank looks. Yusufeli does not do tourism. Hire a car perhaps? There are three or four companies but ‘they normally do not have cars.’
Yusufeli is soon to go under 80-90 meters of water. The tallest dam in Turkey, and supposedly fifth-highest in the world, is under construction a few miles downstream. The government is building a new Yusufeli high on the mountainside above the present town. It will not be picturesque...... READ MORE
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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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