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Travel advice Eastern Europe

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Travel advice Eastern Europe

© 2013-2019

DAY TRIP BATUMI TO TURKEY

Batumi - Turkish border 12 kilometres.

Batumi - the roman Gonio fortress is 8 kilometres. Recommended to hop off and visit.

Gonio fortress - Turkey is 4 kilometres. Cross the road and wave a bus south - it might stop and take you.

Batumi - Hopa (Turkey) is 36 kilometres.

Hopa - Borçka is 38 kilometres.

Hopa - Artvin is 70 kilometres.

Hopa - Trabzon is 171 kilometres.

Batumi - Trabzon is 206 kilometres.

Batumi - Gonio fortress - Sarpi - Border

Many small buses (marshutkas) leave from Tbilisi Square in Batumi with a sign Sarp (Turkish) or Sarpi/სარფი (Georgian)

Batumi - Border - (some stop in Hopa) - Rize - Trabzon

Larger buses leave from the Central Bus Station on Mayakovski street. There are several bus stations so just Google the street. It's right on the beginning of the street if you're coming from the center of Batumi.

Visa for Turkey

  • When I was there in 2013, I walked across the border and bought a visa for 20USD.

  • Now you require an e Visa, as far as I know.

  • Request it beforehand from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

  • It's still 20USD but it can vary on your nationality.

  • Check the FAQ as well.

  • Carry a paper copy (better 2 in case one gets wet or gets lost) and have one saved to your smartphone.

Money/Currency

  • As of 2017, bus to Gonio/Sarpi could cost you 1/2 GEL (Georgian Lari).

  • As of 2017, cabs to Sarpi charge about 15 GEL (discuss before getting in).

  • As of 2017, buses to Trabzon (possibly stopping in Hopa and certainly in Rize) cost 25 GEL.

  • Across the border, money changers are plenty but could overcharge you.

  • Of course your best bet is to change some money beforehand in Batumi.

  • On few buses continuing into Turkey, you might be able to pay the driver in Georgian Lari.

Sarpi

Still in Georgia but right on the border is Sarpi. Home to the Laz people, an ethnic group living in this area on both sides of the border. They speak the endangered Laz language, which had 130.000 - 150.000 native speakers in 2001. It's part of the Kartvelian languages. The group consists of four closely related languages, of which Laz language is one. The languages are not related to any other - there are in total about 5,2 million speakers of Kartvelian languages worldwide. Laz language is unfortunately disappearing because its speakers are absorbed into Georgian and Turkish society, countries that have their own national language.

Between Gonio and Sarpi you'll pass by a waterfall right along the road, look for "Водопад Андрея Первозванного" in Google Maps.

Sarpi has a pretty good beach, albeit with stones only. If you're lucky you'll see dolphins swimming! In addition, Sarpi has a typical Georgian church, look for "წმინდა ანდრია პირველწოდებულის სახელობის ტაძარი" in Google Maps.

Hopa (Turkey)

I chose to visit Hopa, which in itself is not so special except for all the people drinking tea in the streets, a common sight in Turkey. You might get invited for some tea just like I was. The terrain is steep right outside the center. Hopa is quite a historical city, read more about it on its Wikipedia page.

Borçka

From Hopa, I took a bus to Borçka which is high up in the mountains. An interesting town and beautiful surroundings that rarely get visited by tourists. If you do not like speeding buses over winding roads - stay put in Hopa. High up in the mountains, following a dangerous road, you find Karagöl lake, meaning Black lake. Look for "Borçka Karagöl Nature Park" in Google Maps. It's over 1.540 metres above sea level. Because it's over 26 kilometres from Borçka on this narrow and dangerous road, it will take you quite long to visit. Karagöl Sahara National Park, 119 kilometres east of Borçka, might also be interesting to see. Parekhi monastery is up in the mountains - apart from it being a Georgian monastery, I can find little more information. Neither pictures. 

Machakheli valley

Machakhlistskali river runs from Turkey to Georgia. The river valley Machakheli that lies in Turkey is part of Borçka municipality. The Turkish part of the valley has six villages, which have both Turkish and unofficial Georgian names: Camili (Khertvisi), Düzenli (Zedvake), Efeler (Eprati), Kayalar (Kvabistavi), Maralköy (Mindieti), and Uğurköy (Akria). The Georgian part has twelve villages, some of which: Zeda Chkhutuneti, Kveda Chkhukuneti, Chikuneti, Tskhemlara, Skurdidi, Acharisagmarti, Kedkedi, Sindieti, Chanivri, Gor-Gadzeti, Saputkreti. The river has plenty of trout and is known for its local people that practice beekeeping and hazelnut farming. This valley is an important area for birds, being part of the Black Sea Basin. Besides, it's one of the 122 most important plant areas of Turkey. The Turkish part of the valley is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

 

Some special sights in the Turkish area include:

  • Iremit mosque in Maral village

  • Tamara’s cave (can't find the location)

  • Arched bridge at the entrance of Efeler village

On the Georgian side you'll find:

  • Gvara fortress

  • Mirveti waterfall and stone bridge

  • Machakheli Ethnographic Museum "მაჭახლის ეთნოგრაფიული მუზეუმი"

Artvin

The area's earliest traces of civilization date back to the Bronze Age. The Hurrian people lived in Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia and settled here in 2000 B.C. There have been several invasions, Artvin region was part of the Kingdom of Van (Uratu), as well as the Kingdom of Colchis. The Scythians, that were Iranian people and Eurasian nomads, also ruled this mountainous region. Then Muslim armies led by Habib, son of Caliph Uthman ruled the land until the Byzantines conquered it. As if the history couldn't get more intense, the Georgians, Ottomans and even the Russians then took over. It just goes to show that this part of the world is a crossroads of ancient civilizations, of which there is so much more to be studied. Artvin has an interesting castle with the same name. It was built in 937. Then there are several Ottoman buildings in the center of town.

 

About 3 kilometres east of town is the Deriner dam, one of 27 planned hydroelectric dams, of which quite a lot have been completed by now. The 249 high dam is on the  Çoruh River, which flows into to the Black Sea near Batumi. Çoruh valley is again an important area for birds as well as plants. Nearby Artvin you'd find the Savangin cave in Yusufeli town. It's a natural cave that has an inscription that is unsolved until today.

Kaçkar mountains

There's much to see in Northeastern Turkey - you can find some of the country's best trekking in the Kaçkar Dağları (check Google Maps). The highest peak of the range is Kaçkar Dağı (3.937 m.) and it can be climbed from the northeast ridge, starting from Yukarı Kavrun village. The whole mountain range is part of the Pontic mountains. The mountains seem hazardous to those inexperienced - the area is scarcely populated as well. Make sure you know what you're up to, it can get very cold up in the mountains even if it's hot down by the Black Sea. Here's a guide book that can help you plan a trip. Besides, taking a local guide is always recommended. Do research before going.

Trabzon

About 171 kilometres west from Hopa, on the Black Sea coast as well. Sumela monastery is 50 kilometres south of the city. Trabzon would be too far for a day trip from Batumi so it's best to spend the night - obviously mostly because you'd miss out on a lot if you come for just a day!

Unfortunately I don't have pictures of most of these places as I stayed near the Georgian border.

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