Winter fun in Kartalkaya
Melih Uslu - BOLU
Looking like a giant game park under a blanket of snow right at the midpoint between Istanbul and Ankara, Kartalkaya is an important winter tourism resort that combines comfort with taintless beauty of nature. Standing out with its well-equipped mechanical facilities, modern hotels and tracks that are suitable for all kinds of winter sports, the ski resort is situated on the mild slopes of Köroğlu Mountains. With an altitude of 2,378 meters, this is one of western Black Sea region’s highest peaks. Located within the territories of the city of Bolu, at some 190 kilometers distance from Ankara, 260 kilometers from Istanbul and 590 kilometers from İzmir, the resort is especially busy during weekends.
The land of legends
Separated by Davraz and Soğanlı Valleys from Küre Mountains, the home to Europe’s oldest forests, Köroğlu Mountain Range is known with many legends. As the setting of a number of folk tales, this mountain range was named after a folk hero called Köroğlu. These mountains are taken under protection as a national park, welcoming skiers in winter months and photographers, paragliding and nature enthusiasts in spring, summer and fall. The 45-kilometers-long road that connects Kartalkaya to Bolu was built in 1978. After bringing water and electricity to the area, 12,000 pine saplings were planted. Since the area is close to Istanbul and Ankara, it soon became very popular and transformed into one of Anatolia’s favorite ski resorts. With a total track length of 70 kilometers the resorts stand out with its ideal climate for winter sports, high snow quality and pristine nature. Thanks to sheltering slopes covered with pine forests, snowflakes remain dry for longer, creating the perfect ground surface for winter sports. Another advantage of the area is the fact that it receives direct sunlight. The resort offers 25 trails, suitable for skiing, snowboarding, sliding, paintball and motor safari. There are trail options for skiers of every experience level. Almost all trails except for a few face the hotels. Hotel customers have unlimited free access to trails. Also, there are special snowboard racing courses at the trails that are closer to the hotels. Steepening as it descends, the Black Trail is suitable for experienced skiers while Çanak (Bowl) Trail appeals to intermediate level. The other one, passing through the forest attracts those who are confident in their skiing skills.
Five-star mountain hotels of Kartalkaya offer first-class services to their guests including steam baths, cafes, gyms, ski and snowboarding schools. In addition to a professional search and rescue team, a team of paramedics stand by throughout the day in case of an emergency. The resort also offers a lot to those who don’t have any skiing experience. All kinds of equipment and trainings are available with accessible prices. There are significant discounts for groups who want to take skiing lessons. With a total bed space of 2,000 guests, the hotels at Kartalkaya offer first class services. The hotels in the region offer all kinds of comforts from well-heated indoor swimming pools to movie theaters, restaurant with impressive fireplaces that serve the best dishes of world cuisine and rooms with jacuzzi tubs overlooking the mountain landscape. It is even possible to watch the ski possible to watch the ski performance of your loved ones at the comfort of your own room in most of the hotels. For budget accommodation choices you can check out the mountain guest houses at the highlands just eight to 10 kilometers away from the resort. While bathing in the sun rays reflecting on the crystal carpet of snow, Kartalkaya takes on an enchanting allure in the night. After a long day full of adrenaline, there are still a lot to do in the evenings: A pleasant dinner by the fireplace, taking a walk in the snow, playing snowball or attending one of the nightly entertainments at the hotels. And how about some outdoor ice skating? It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a pair of skates. You can rent a pair in any color you like… To put it briefly, there is a lot of fun and skiing going on in Kartalkaya. Spare some time to make the most of the mountain of legends before winter ends. Just like we did.
Bolu with its natural beauty and sites of historical interest is a favorite winter destination. Here are three specially recommended spots:
1- Akkaya Travertines
The travertine marbles at Akkaya Pass on the Bolu-Mudurnu highway will leave you awestruck. Colorful in appearance in contrast with their pure white counterparts at Pamukkale, these travertines are the result of an accumulation of calcium and silicium-rich chemical sediments in the 20-degree spring waters that bubble up from under the ground. And the wooded area behind the travertines is ideal for picnics.
2- Seben Rock Houses
More than 500 rock-cut dwellings are waiting to be explored in and around the Bolu town of Seben, an ancient Phrygian settlement. You will feel you are on another planet when you reach the villages of Muslar and Solaklar, which are particularly rich in rock houses. Covered with fairy chimneys, caves and cone-shaped rock formations, this geography is reminiscent of a miniature Cappadocia.
3- Kızık Highland
The highlands of Bolu, which number over 300, are ideal for nature hikes, camping, trekking, picnics and photo safaris as well as botanical and discovery walks. One of the area’s typical highlands, Kızık Highland at Seben, lies between the Karakise and Balluboğazı Rivers. At 1,400 meters in altitude, it is famous for its log cabins built without using a single nail as well as being home to the Kızık Turks, who came here from Central Asia.