Horse-drawn sleighs gaining popularity in Turkey’s Kars
Tourists to the eastern Anatolian region of Kars ride sleighs on Çıldır Lake, the second biggest lake in the region. The surface of the lake is frozen into ice during winter months.
The Eastern Express has recently become a highly popular mode of transportation among local and foreign tourists who visit Çıldır Lake. The lake is 1,959 meters above sea level and covers an area of 123 square kilometers. It is located between the Turkish provinces of Kars and Ardahan.
Ozan Karataş, who guides the guests on horse-drawn sleighs on the lake, said they put their horses in vehicles and leave their house at 8 a.m. in the morning.
“We arrive at the lake an hour after leaving the house. We tie our horses to sleighs in front of a log cabin, built on the shores of Arpaçay Lake. Then we take the guests on tours on the ice-covered lake until 5 p.m.,” said Karataş.
“The tourists especially visit the Ani ruins and Çıldır Lake. This lake is worth seeing. I want everyone to come and see it,” he said. Karataş said more people have begun traveling to Kars with the Eastern Express.
“We make people happy on this lake and earn our living here,” said Karataş, adding that people touring the lake in horse-drawn sleighs become very excited.
Another sleigh driver, Turgay Karataş, said they try to make tourists happy on the lake. “When Çıldır Lake freezes, we earn money. We are here for the daily tourists. There is ice, sun and nice weather all at this lake. Thanks to the Eastern Express, we have lots of customers,” he said.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Narin Bakran, a local tourist, said they had come from İzmir to see Kars. “We toured the lake on horse-drawn sleighs, it was very fun. Kars is such a beautiful and fantastic place, which we had never known of,” said Bakran.
Ege İpekçi said they came to Çıldır after visiting the Sarıkamış district and the ancient city of Ani. “Kars has a very big tourism potential, it is like heaven,” İpekçi said.
Tourists arriving in Kars with the Eastern Express also visit the Cıbıltepe and Sarıkamış ski centers, as well as the ancient city of Ani.
It takes 25 hours for visitors to travel to Kars from Ankara with the Eastern Express.