Climbing the Kaçkar Mountains: Over the clouds, on top of the world

The Kaçkar Mountains National Park, located mostly within the boundaries of Çamlıhemşin, Rize, is a photographer's paradise thanks to its natural beauty and mesmerizing scenery.

The mountain, at an altitude of 3,937 meters, is Turkey's fourth highest peak and among the 200 ecological regions put under protection by the Nature Conservation Foundation.

Rising above the eastern Black Sea coast and sharing boundaries with Rize's Çamlıhemşin district and Artvin's Yusufeli district, Kaçkars are among the regions preferred by adventure and photography enthusiasts. It fascinates visitors with its highlands that reach an altitude of 2,500 meters.

Visitors generally prefer the Pokut, Sal and Huser highlands in Çamlıhemşin. Photography enthusiasts can watch the highlands for hours to capture especially the fog cloud and the sunset. People often set up camps and spend the night in the highlands just to capture the perfect shot.

The fog coming down the valley on the skirts of Kaçkars offers some unforgettable moments to the visitors. Slowly progressing towards the top of the valley, the fog creates different images in each segment. Embodying different colors with the sunset, the Kaçkars are immortalized by the magnificent moment for which photographers can wait for hours. Sometimes photographers have to leave early from the peak due to sudden rain.

The Kaçkar Mountains National Park offers different beauties to the alternative holiday seekers with its rare plantation, forests, wildlife and glacial lakes. It moves away from the shades of green with the arrival of autumn, embracing a whole different view.

Elif Yılmaz, one of the visitors, said she came to the region from Istanbul to take photos and enjoy the view. "I surrendered myself while coming here. I thought about giving up because the roads were very tough, but when I reached the summit I decided it was worth it. When you reach the peak, you want to come one more time," Yılmaz said, adding that she could see very little of the fog cloud at the summit. "I could see the sea of clouds for two or three minutes. I think I am lucky. I am waiting, and I still have hope. We will keep waiting to see more."

Ali Gezen, who lives and works in Norway, said he was visiting with his family. He said that he saw photos of this place on social media and always wanted to visit it in person.

"We have been to the Gito, Sal and Pokut Highlands. We have come across so many great images," Gezen noted.

"Norway's mountains are also famous but the beauty here cannot be found anywhere else," he said.

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