Doğubayazıt’s ice cave, a hidden treasure in a barren landscape

Doğubayazıt’s ice cave, a hidden treasure in a barren landscape

Wilco van Herpen AĞRI - Hürriyet Daily News
Doğubayazıt’s ice cave, a hidden treasure in a barren landscape

The ice structures in the cave were crystal clear, although some of them had a foggy whiteness.

Sometimes while traveling in Turkey you need a certain dose of luck and I can tell you, I have had a lot of luck. A while ago my crew and I travelled to the east of Turkey for a story about Doğubayazıt. When we arrived there I learned of a few other interesting places to see besides İshak Paşa Palace. One of the places mentioned was a cave where you can find natural ice sculptures.

When you travel to the east or southeast of Turkey as a journalist and want to go off the beaten track you always have to report your plans to a local commanding officer. This is due to the danger of being kidnapped by terrorist organizations, such as the PKK and the armed forces’ responsibility to ensure the safety of journalists.

So as soon as I arrived in town I headed to the gendarmerie to talk about my ideas of travelling around in the area of Doğubayazıt. The commander was a friendly guy who spoke about the risks of traveling around in the area. It would be no problem to go anywhere we wanted to, he told us, but we had to inform him and he wanted to send some people with us for our protection. After the obligatory cups of tea we thanked him and wished him a good day.

Early in the morning the next day we left the hotel and headed toward the ice cave. We did not visit the gendarmerie again as we assumed they would be informed about our whereabouts. It would not be too far a trip, about a 45 minute drive from the center of Doğubayazıt. The first part of the road was easy as we just followed signs for Iran as the ice cave is not far from Turkey’s border with Iran. A lot of Iranian and Turkey’s TIR trucks passed us, all loaded with goods bound for or traveling from Iran.
At a certain point I had to turn right into the countryside and immediately the road’s condition took a turn for the worse.

Beautiful ice statues

Finally, we arrived at the place where the cave was supposed to be, but all I saw was a huge hole in the landscape. It had to be there but I could not see the entrance of the cave no matter where I looked. I decided to descend into the pit and when I arrived at the bottom of the pit I saw something that could be an entrance. Excited I went toward the dark hole I saw the entrance of the ice statue cave. Big pieces of rock were lying scattered around at the entrance. I think a part of the ceiling must have collapsed due to erosion or an earthquake. Outside it was hot, but the moment I entered the cave the temperature dropped incredibly.

After a 15-meter descent over slippery rocks and mud I finally found myself in the cave. It was pitch black. No fancy lightning system, no ticket office; nothing. The only shimmery light there came from behind the entrance of the cave. Then when I switched on my pocket torch I saw nothing but stones and a cave that went even deeper. So I went deeper and then I saw the first couple of little ice stalagmites. It was not impressive but I became hopeful. It was cold in the cave, while exhaling my breath turned into a white small condensed cloud. When I shone my pocket torch on the little ice sculpture it became a small sparkling piece of art. The sculptures were crystal clear, although some of them had a bit of foggy whiteness to them, but this just added to the mystic feeling of the sculptures.
I was flabbergasted that something so beautiful was hidden away in a cave almost no one visits in the middle of a rough and barren landscape. This was definitely a worthwhile trip, well worth the risk of the enterprise. We spent about one and a half hours in the cave discovering more and more ice sculptures before it was time to go. On my way out of the cave the air became heavier step by step and then I was outside again in the burning hot sun. Who could have thought such a beautiful treasure would be hidden away here? I saw it and I hope that after me you will one day be lucky enough to see this beautiful cave as well.