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Zeytinbagi (The Olive Garden) Edremit

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Uludag Bursa

Uludag Bursa
The 2543m high Uludag ( Ulu Mountain ) or Great Mountain towering over Bursa is the renowned winter-sports and skiing centre in Turkey with its far northern reaches dramatically dropping down into the city. Just 36km from Bursa is easily accessible by road or cable car and also popular for summer activities such as trekking and camping.

History

In ancient times it was known as Olympos of Mysia and in mythology as the seat from which the gods watched the battle of Troy. It was also a refuge for monks and hermits during the early Christian times and these were replaced by Muslim dervishes after the Ottoman conquest.

Skiing in Uludag

For skiing it is best to go earlier in the season that runs from December to March. The hotels have their own ski lift at 1800m level where you can rent skis, clothing and other equipment at booths in Oteller the name given to this area. Ski equipment is prohibited in the cable cars.

Getting to Uludag

The 30 passenger cable cars go up to the lower terminus at Sarialan station every half hour daily from 08:00 to 21:00 and the trip takes around 30 minutes with a short stop at Kadıyayla. The cars do not run when there are high winds. They become very busy mid-afternoon and at weekends there are usually hour long queues at both ends and at the top of Sarıalan the dolmus wait to take you to Oteller. 

To use the cable car take the dolmus from the corner of Ressam Sefik Bursali and  Ataturk Streets marked “Teleferik” or alternatively take a dolmus all the way to Oteller. 

If you want to drive, take the same route as the dolmus on the paved road up from Orhangazi Caddesi in  Bursa and the road quickly climbs up to the Karabelen National Park gate where staff sometimes charge a small entrance fee and give out information. As the last part of the road into Oteller is designed to stop drivers skidding and is made of very rough cobblestones you should allow at least one hour for the trip and chains must be attached to your wheels in bad weather conditions otherwise you will be prevented from entering the park.

Uludag Hotels

The park campsites, not the most pleasant, are usually full in summer and too cold to use in winter. There is not much difference between the 4 and 5 star resort hotels available with over 7500 beds on offer. Rates vary greatly between summer and the winter skiing season ranging from 40 Euros to over 200 Euros and many visitors are prepared to pay the higher prices.

Parks and Picnic Areas

The area is also a national park rich in flora and fauna and well worth a visit at any time of the year. Full of campsites and picnic grounds that become packed with Bursan’s during weekends and public holidays. The smell of meat redolent in the air from the many grill-houses and rent-a-barbeque establishments situated at Sarialan picnic grounds at 1635m.

National Park

The cable car (teleferik) will bring you here from the Teleferük borough of Bursa. There are a few kilometres of designated hiking trails in the national park area but the better ones are just outside to the east where a few hours of walking will lead you to some glacial lakes just below the highest summit. Between May and June are the best time to see wild flowers blooming and September and October when the mists are less dense. As it’s close to the Sea of Mamara moist sea air gets caught in the high ridges and violent storms and whiteouts can occur anytime of the year.  

Hiking Trails

From the top of Oteller a track takes you to the abandoned Wolfram Mine (Volfram) and from behind the mine’s guardhouse is a path leading up to a wide watershed ridge just below the summit of Zirve at 2496m. Following the trail for one and a half hours to where it forks and going right will take you to the main peak at 2543m, although taking the left fork is more worthwhile for the views overlooking Aynalıgöl (Mirror Lake). This is Uludağ’s first big lake, sheltered from the wind giving it a calm mirror-like surface which has campsites and is accessible by a side trail just half an hour from the junction. The second and most famous lake Karagol (Black Lake) is 15 minutes southeast of Aynalıgöl set in a deep gorge and has dark water and ice floes but no camping facilities are here. The third largest lake Kilimligöl (Rug Lake), named after the brilliantly coloured flowers that carpet its surrounds and change into a myriad of patterns, sits on a plateau southeast of Karagöl with good high altitude camping on offer. There is also Buzlugol (Ice Lake) which is covered with ice for most of the year. On returning to Oteller and as long as the weather remains good you can walk on the ridge rather than backtracking to Volfram.

Just below a ruined hut on Zirve is a faint track that soon disappears, head downhill across country and along a watershed to Cennetkaya. This small hill just above Oteller gets very busy with crowds and jeeps and sometimes if the weather is right you can catch a glimpse of the far off Sea of Marmara.  

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