Mount Erciyes – World class family Ski facility
by Marion Smith
The story begins with Mr Mehmet Tafli now 77 years old. He was born in Hisarcik and started skiing when he was still in primary school. The mountain was undeveloped and offered no form of ski slopes or lessons. Mr Tafli set about establishing the Ski Expertise Club, and helped teach local children.
There were no roads, tracks or lifts to reach the higher section of the slopes. The only way up was the long laborious walk with ski’s in hand. Persistence paid of and with the support of Metropolitan Mayor, Mustafa Celik, Erciyes it can now boast to being the most advanced ski slope in Turkey. Children as young as 6 years can attend lessons on the slopes and rentals of ski equipment are available.
So much to do in winter
- Camping – there is nothing that gets you closer to nature than crawling out of your goose down duvet with a steaming cup of coffee in hand, unzipping your tent to a view of snow covered mountains surrounded by tranquility. Whether you have your own camping gear or choose to hire it from a local travel agency, camping out on an open plain away from the sides of the mountain is going to be a #memorablemoment for sure
- Ski at night – The temperatures plummet at night but with the correct clothing and no longer needing sunglasses to ward off the harsh glare its one of the experiences on Mount Erciyes that every skier should try. Taking the cable car up and admiring the night sky filled with stars it will add to the magic of your holiday. When skiing is over be sure to huddle around the burning barrel fire and sip on a cup of Sicak ( hot ) Sira.
- Snow kite – The large open fields at the base of the mountain are ideal for this sport. It is not much different to to kiteboarding on water. The soft powdery snow is ideal for launching. Six inches is enough, less than this crashes can be brutal, more than this and you will be exhausted tromping around while setting up your gear. Mount Erciyes continues to redefine winter sports on the slopes and fields below with its ideal conditions.
- Ski on the different slopes – Make use of the state of the art cable car system to access the professional inter-connected 200km slopes. Putting on your skis, stepping out onto the snow and racing down the slopes showing off your skills is surely heaven for any avid skier. With blue skies, fresh snow and a breath taking mountain, you couldn’t ask for more in a skiing holiday in Kayseri. The raw natural beauty and unique vantage point of the slopes is undoubtedly the best winter holiday in dare I say the entire Turkey.
- Take photos and more photos – I can’t stress this point enough. Some tips for perfect pictures of the magnificent white slopes, include adjusting the white balance when taking pictures of the snow. Choose to shoot in RAW format and always carry extra batteries. Battery life is a lot shorter at low temperatures. Best times of the day to shoot are in the early morning or after lunch. The glare on the slopes can be intense. When you post your pictures on social media remember to hashtag #kayserierciyes
- Participate in the 5 day Cultural Slide tour – The perfect way to discover the slopes, cultural, historical and gastronomy of the Kayseri region. The tour encompasses historical locations in Kayseri, skiing, Talas Ottoman Street with its authentic houses and Mother Miriam Church, snow kiting, Gesi, Gereme Ruins, trip to Cappadocia which includes Avanos, Goreme, Pigeon Valley and Urgup. Each day is filled with tantalising Turkish meals specific to this region.
- Ski school to polish up – If you don’t get to ski often, don’t worry. There are lessons available on the slopes from beginners upwards. Its always advisable to have a quick few sessions especially if you come from a country where skiing is not an available sport. The many instructors will get you ready to glide down the slopes.
- Eat local – Stay away from foreign chain restaurants. The local food is so good and there is such a vast selection that you won’t manage to try it all in one visit. A few “ must eats “ from my experience include the suck ekmek ( sausage bread ) accompanied with a hot cup of cay ( tea ), Turkish style ravioli called Manti ,yaglama and pastrami .You will also come across the fruit juice called Gilaboru in many restaurants , made from little red berries and believed to be good for the digestive system it has a bitter taste to it. If you don’t like the idea of bitter then order Ayran with your meal.
- Stay in the city – A selection of world class hotels can be found in the city centre and many offer ski package deals for the winter season that includes transport to and from the mountain. Three notable hotels are The Radisson Blu, The Hilton and Novotel. There are hotels suitable for all budgets.
- Mountain hotels – For the ski enthusiast its best to stay on the mountain, you will wake up to the fresh mountain air and enticing white slopes. There is a selection of hotels ranging from the Maxima, Ommer Hotel ( offers a ski package ) to my personnel favourite , The Ramada. Under the roof of Wyndham which is the biggest hotel chain in the world, its modern amenities, simplicity and tastefully decorated rooms with quality fittings you won’t want to leave. The 72 rooms have views of either the lake or the mountain.
- Hire a car- Many car hire companies are available ,at Kayseri airport there are a few. I made use of Hertz, what appealed to me was the unlimited mileage . Hiring a car is the best way to see the mountain, city of Kayersi and surrounding towns like Cappadocia and Develi. A quick and easy process it rates at the top of my list for mobility.
- Wild horses of Hurmetci Village – Hundreds of wild Yilki horses running freely at the base of Mount Erciyes creating huge clouds of dust in summer . This scenic wonder of a fairy- tale world where the landscape comprises of slinking underbrush and outcrops of rocks in winter has an element of roguishness as the sun’s direct glare attempts to melt the drifted new snow. Nothing can prepare you for the sound of the thundering hooves smacking the dirt, glittering in sunlight, heads held high and proud as they slice themselves through the ravenous wind. Manes pouring over their shoulders in an inky waterfall. For one day up to 7 day tours of these magnificent beasts with World renowned Kayseri photographer Nuri Corbacioglu who has several international awards and participated in more than 20 exhibitions ,his passion for photography and the horses create the perfect fusion for any avid wild life photographer whether they are a novice or advanced .My advice – Dont leave Kayseri without seeing the horses.
- Buy organic food at the local market – A selection of cheeses, honey comb and local crafts can be bought from the small market on the main road through. The water that runs out of the taps is ice cold and freshest water I have ever tasted. Tulum ( sheep skin )cheese is sold here. The cheese is made with sheep and cow and sometimes goat milk.The milk curd is left to ripen in the animal skin during its preparation creating its unique flavour.
- Mount Erciyes eruption centuries ago is what formed Cappadocia’s famous fairy chimneys
- Colonel Cemil Cahit Toydemir was the first Turk to climb Mount Erciyes. He climbed up from the East side in 1924 accompanied by 6 officers and a soldier. He was the first person to start mountaineering sports in Turkey
- William John Hamilton was the first man to climb the mountain on 29 July 1837.
- Mount Erciyes is the highest mountain in the Central Anatolia region with a height of 3,917m
- Known as “ Cana “ in old Turks according to the records, ski was used as a tool for walking on snow around Baikal Lake in B.C. 4000
- Ski’s were first produced in a carpenters workshop in Golden Horn in 1914 in large numbers. They were transported to Erzurum on the backs of animals.
- The municipality has invested over 200 million Euros into developing the Mountain
- The bed capacity in the city is over 6500
- Winter ski is guaranteed on the mountain, with the most developed artificial snow making system in Turkey. 154 artificial snow machines ensure the 54km runway always has snow.
- The one ticket system allows access to all 18 mechanical facilities at 4 different entrances and covers 34 different tracks. The one ticket can be used all day long.
Little Black Book
www.kayserierciyes.com.tr for ski maps and information on the area
www.cappadociaphototours.com for photo tours of the wild horses with Nuri
www.anadoluyayolculuk.com photo tours with Nuri Corbacioglu
www.karacasucuklari.com.tr for delicious sucuk and pastrami
www.wyndhamhotels.com for The Ramada
For the ultimate ski trip and a holiday combined in one, head to Mount Erciyes where snow is soft and hard, part and whole, frozen and melting. As I sat in my hotel room in The Ramada I watched the flakes , silver and sparkly falling obliquely against the lamp light outside my room.The grandeur of Mount Erciyes covered thickly in the snow seemed to be part of the thickening darkness of a December winter night. I cant wait to see the mountain again in summer when the seasonal sports like hiking take over.
Connect with Marion Smith on Travel Dejavu.
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