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Dancing in the clouds
Mount Ararat (Ağrı), the highest point of both Turkey and Europe, can be seen from vast distances across the eastern Turkish plain, rising ethereally into the clouds. In 2004, it was declared a national park. Its summit, snow-capped all year, is a dormant volcanic cone covered with glaciers, the largest permanent ice-mass in Turkey. Its mention in sacred texts, in the context of the story of Noah’s Ark, makes this massif unique. Claimed to be “impossible to climb” by the famous explorer Marco Polo, for many years this majestic mountain haunted the dreams of adrenalin-addicted explorers.
Ararat Walking Routes
The cone of Mount Ararat is surrounded by several summits higher than 3000m. The slopes of all these mountains are covered with basalt blocks and lava flows, blown out by ancient volcanic eruptions. They harbour a variety of birds and rare wild flowers as well as small lakes.
The area attracts mountaineers and nature lovers with several well-known mountaineering routes. Known as the “roof” of Turkey, the province of Ağrı includes four of Turkey’s highest summits: Greater Ararat 5137m., Mount Süphan 4058m., Lesser Ararat 3896m., Mount Tendürek 3533m.
Süphan’s summit is in Bitlis but the north-eastern slopes are located within Ağrı province. Ararat walking routes include Greater Ararat, Lesser Ararat, Mount Süphan, Mount Köse summits and Balık and Küp high tarns. GPS data is available from www.agritrekking.com. Contact [email protected] for the guide book, which has detailed information about the routes. The province of Ağrı was once part of the early Urartu kingdom, famous for immense fortifications and superb metalwork. These fortresses, plus the luxurious 17th century İshak Paşa Palace, nestle amongst snowy peaks and await discovery by both nature and history lovers.