After 2-hour flight and heavy landing we finally arrived at Malatya Airport. The lunar landscape and sunbaked fields made the place very unique and mysterious. Going to a special place became very clear early on when we realized we were the only tourists in a plane…
Since a part of us didn’t feel very well after the previous night in Istanbul we decided to stop for a night in Malatya and start our main trip the next day. Thanks to the locals, who were very friendly, we managed to get to the city center very quickly and after an hour of searching we found a simple hostel to stay in. The owner was very pleased that Adam, as the only man in the group, bargained over the price by drawing a double room to be converted to a triple one for the same amount of money. No need to speak English in Malatya
In the afternoon we decided to book a trip to Nemrut Dagi. We already knew it was not gonna be an easy task, because there was no official company operating to the mountains. All we had was information provided by other tourists on some blogs and forums, that there is this guy Jamal you can meet on the main square and who can organize the tour once there is enough people. We’ve found the VIP tea-house by accident and managed to catch our guide and sign in for the trip. The tour included transport to and from Nemrut area, accommodation at the base of the mountain, guided hikes and alimentation.
The night passed peacefully although early in the morning we felt like our beds were shaking for a while. We didn’t expect it to be anything special until our friend texted us that there was an earthquake near Malatya and if we were fine. Even though the news reached Poland fortunately nothing bad happened.
At 8 AM we went to the meeting point where Jamal and a driver were already packing all bags on a roof rack. Having 15 people in a 14 seated dolmus was not a problem to the Turkish. A lucky ‘over-limit’ tourist got a camp chair, which probably made his ride in the bus the most extreme and unforgettable. Let me put it straight – at times we drove 120km/h and it took 3.5 h in total to get to our destination.
Once we arrived, we checked in the hostel and had a welcome tea break with other trippers. After that we were free to explore the area. Some tourists drove with Jamal by bus almost under the peak of Nemrut and some, like us, went by foot. It took us 50 minutes of climbing to get to the top.
Nemrut Dagi is 2134 m high and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is known for the sanctuary dedicated in the first century BC by Antiochos I, the last king of Commagene. The mountain top is flanked by high statues of gods, lions, eagles and himself. The rocky heads at some stage, probably due to the earthquakes and weather conditions, have fallen from the torsos, but are still well preserved. It is thought that the grave of the king is concealed somewhere under the mountain top but nobody can tell it for sure.
Nemrut offers spectacular views on sunset but unfortunately the evening was very cloudy. We got back to the dormitory and had a delicious supper with Jamal and other foreigners and interesting chat afterwards. It’s always nice to meet such positive people and so passionate about exploring new places.
We went to sleep early since we had to wake up at 4.30 AM the next day to see the sunrise. It was quite chilly and windy up there at that time, but the stunning view from the top made up for it.
Once the tour was about to return to the dormitory and head back to Malatya we said goodbye to everyone and walked down the opposite site of the mountain to a small base with buses leaving for Kahta. For 15$ per person we joined a scenic drive along the Euphrates basin. During the ride back we stopped by the 10 tons weight Severan Bridge, visited Karakus Monumental Tombs of Commagene and some caves.
Mount Nemrut National Park has a very rich history and I must admit, there were moments we felt like we went back to ancient times… There is still so much to discover there! A truly memorable experience.
From Kahta we catched a dolmus to our next destination, Sanliurfa, but that’s yet another full of surprises story…