Journey to Macahel’s Plateau
Turkey’s first and only biosphere reserve area under UNESCO protection, Macahel (also known as Camili) in the Black Sea province of Artvin’s Borçka district, fascinates with its unique culture as well as untouched springs, naturally aged woods, endemic plants, historic mosques and the pure Caucasian honey bee.
Lekoban, one of the most important plateaus of Macahel, consisting of Camili, Düzenli, Efeler, Kayalar, Maral and Uğur villages on an area of 25,395 hectares, has become a favorite spot for domestic and foreign tourists in recent years with its challenging geographical terrain, endemic plant species, glacial lakes and mesmerizing sunsets.
Lekoban Plateau, which can be reached from two different road routes, Şavşat and Borçka; provides peaceful, serene habitat for a variety of forms of natural life.
Located in the foothills of the Karçal Mountains, which reach an altitude of 3,450 meters, at the Georgian border, the plateau is a popular destination for trekking, photography and nature enthusiasts with its rich biological diversity.
One of the most important characteristics of the Karçal Mountains - the ecosystem diversity that arises with sudden altitude changes - turns the region into a central attraction for nature tourism.
Visitors touring the plateau drink clean spring water and photograph endemic plant species while swimming in the “Naçadire” glacial lake spanning 3,100 meters and enjoying the nature.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, the head of Kayalar village, Murat Yavuz, said that Macahel is a rare region.
“It is not enough to explain these flowers, lakes without seeing them. The most beautiful photo is the eye photo. People coming here enter the glacial lake at 3,100 meters and enjoy the nature. We welcome everyone to Macahel for the holidays,” he said.
Istanbul resident Silva Ontu, said that she admired Macahel and surrounding plateaus during her first visit to the Black Sea region.
“We loved nature here. It is full of amazing surprises. Its nature and flowers are amazing; people are amazing. There are flowers you can’t see anywhere. Photographers, people with an interest in botany should definitely come and see the beauty of the greenery in these mountains because there is a thousand species of green here,” she said.
The main ecosystem types in the Macahel biosphere reserve are boreal coniferous forests and temperate deciduous forests, including tree species such as black alder, oriental spruce, Caucasus lime tree and sessile oak, according to the UNESCO website.
The Macahel basin forms part of the Karçal Mountains Important Plant Area, one of the 122 most important plant areas in Turkey. The basin is also the only region where the Caucasus honey bee has remained untouched, making it one of the three most important bee species in the world.
The area is a highly significant part of the bird migration route within the Black Sea Basin. It is situated within the Eastern Black Sea Mountains Important Bird Area and the Karçal Mountains Important Bird Area.