Write: Melih Uslu, Photo: Ahmet Bilal Arslan
A true paradise for winter sports, Anatolia awaits you for a warm winter holiday with its world-class lift facilities, comfortable mountain hotels, and fun activities
Twenty-five kilometers from Kayseri, the ski center of Erciyes is reached through the asphalt road connecting the town of Hisarcık to Tekir Plateau. Progressing alongside postcardworthy scenery, the road moves along amid mountain houses built on snowy hills, goatherds, and streams of water in various sizes. As we go higher and higher up toward the snowy peaks of Erciyes, an extinct volcanic mountain, the Plain of Kayseri so reminiscent of a flat sheet stretches out beneath our feet. At an elevation of over two thousand meters, we get to meet the peerless curves of Cappadocia Valley. Known for its expansive range of courses suiting skiers at all levels, the center offers economical accommodation options too. The quality of the snow is maintained for a long time because of the high altitude and suitable weather conditions. The ski courses occupy a broad area starting at an altitude of around two thousand meters. Besides skiing, the main courses are suited to snowboarding too. One novel activity offered at Erciyes is snow rafting. A professional search-and-rescue team was established against the possibility of accidents. In Erciyes, where one can ski through the end of March, there are star-bearing hotels as well as budget guesthouses.
How to get there?
AnadoluJet flies round-trip from Ankara to Kayseri on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, departing from Ankara at 1:30 p.m. and from Kayseri at 3:05 p.m.
The apple of Erzurum’s eye, the Palandöken Winter Sports Center had the honor of hosting the successful Universiade 2011 Winter Games event last year. It is located ten kilometers from the city center. With world-class ski facilities, the center warms one’s heart with its enchanting natural environment. With a seventy-kilometer-long mountain range in which the peaks connect conically, this area is a rare gem of a place for winter sports. The quality of its snow, which does not fly about easily even in windy weather, is suited for winter sports. With an uninterrupted length of ten kilometers, Ejder Course—the “dragon” course—is here too, the longest course in Turkey and one of the world’s few largest courses. The combined length of the courses—which present various levels of difficulty—adds up to some sixty kilometers. To utilize the challenging courses situated above 2,500 meters, experience is a must. There are maps of the courses in all Palandöken hotels on which the length, start and endpoints, altitude, and level of difficulty of each are listed. The eight world-class cable car facilities transport athletes to courses at altitudes sometimes above three thousand meters.
How to get there?
AnadoluJet flies round-trip from Ankara to Erzurum daily, departing from Ankara at 9:20 a.m., 6:35 p.m., and 11:00 p.m., and from Kayseri at 7:00 a.m., 11:20 a.m., and 8:35 p.m.
Founded in the 1930s, the Uludağ winter holiday center is located just one hour away from Bursa/Yenişehir Airport. A pioneering location that opened Anatolian tourism up to the world, Uludağ is today a globally famous holiday spot. Alpine-style skiing is widespread in the region, in which one ascends to peaks via cable car and descends slaloming. The ski facilities and courses are world class. The courses in the near surroundings of the hotels are of the kind that even children can ski on with ease. Spread over an expansive area, the courses receive mostly southerly/southwesterly winds. In normal winter conditions, the layer of snow exceeded 1.5 meters in February. The soft, powdery snow doesn’t lose its quality until mid-March and constitutes a base suited for winter sports. The star-bearing hotels of the mountain are equipped to satisfy all kinds of comfort expectations. There are many options for those with a lesser interest in winter sports: restaurants with fireplaces, romantic hiking trails, and nightclubs are just some. There is something for everyone at Uludağ.
How to get there?
AnadoluJet flies round-trip from Ankara to Bursa daily, departing from Ankara at 9:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and from Bursa at 10:45 a.m. and 8:15 p.m.
Twenty-five kilometers from Isparta, the Davraz winter sports center is accessible easily even on the coldest days of winter. Built on the slopes of 2,635-meter Mount Davraz, the center presents the opportunity to ski right by the edge of the Lakes Region. The nine courses varying in length from 1.5 to 4 meters cater to skiers at all levels. The blue courses are preferable for beginners or those seeking self-improvement. The red courses cater to medium-skill skiers, and the black courses to professionals. Nordic skiing, Alpine skiing, tour skiing, snowboarding, and climbing are among the activities available for one to choose at Davraz. The cable cars have the capacity to transport four thousand people per hour. The 1,221-meter-long chairlift known as “stage one” is the center’s longest cable car. Stage two consists of a 920-meter chairlift and 624-meter surface lift, and finally the 85-meter third stage starts at an altitude of 2,080 meters. There are also two baby lifts in the center. The most comfortable of the three accommodation facilities in Davraz, which have a combined bed capacity of five hundred, has four stars.
How to get there?
AnadoluJet is not flying its Isparta routes due to the winter season.
For flight details, see www.anadolujet.com
Located in Sarıkamış district fifty-five kilometers southwest of Kars, this ski center possesses an enchanting natural environment. The same crystalline powdered snow that brought fame to the ski centers in the Alps falls upon Sarıkamış. Although winter days are sunny, the snow that falls on the area retains the freshness of its first day, presenting a fantastic base for skiers. In Sarıkamış, which is one of the ski centers in Anatolia with the longest skiing season, the snow remains for three whole seasons. Surrounded by yellow pine forests, the courses are sheltered against wind. The computerized lifts are world class; there are two chairlifts and one surface lift serving the area. Sarıçam Winter Facilities has the capacity to transport 2,400 persons per hour. The region has conditions suitable for Alpine, Nordic, and tour skiing activities. The area presents accommodation options catering to a range of budgets, from five-star hotels to mountain B&Bs. Ski training and rental equipment are also available.
How to get there?
AnadoluJet flies round-trip from Ankara to Kars daily, departing from Ankara at 9:10 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. and from Kars at 11:25 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Five suggestions for skiing on a budget
1.Semester-break skiing classes are offered in the ski center of Erciyes for. Transport, food, ski passes, ski equipment, and instruction fees are included in the price for these five-day programs lasting from Monday through Friday.
2.The hotels in Palandöken offer alluring early reservation discounts of up to 50 percent. Additional discounts are offered at times other than the semester break, public holidays, and weekends. Furthermore, most of the hotels offer their guests free-of-charge use of their courses and lifts.
3.Travel agencies running tours to ski centers in Anatolia offer group discounts seasonally. For instance, the per-person price of day trips from Istanbul to Uludağ is very reasonable —a price that includes transport, guidance, and a sandwich and drink.
4.The Davraz ski center in Isparta, a major draw for young people, is known for its student-targeted discounts. According to Davraz Winter Sports and Infrastructure Association official Ömer Tetik, discounts of up to 50 percent are provided for groups desiring ski instruction.
5.Hotels near the ski center of Sarıkamış implement various campaigns throughout the season to encourage young people toward winter sports. Advantages provided to students can include 10-percent discounts on room prices on weekdays and half-board service for the price of bed-and-breakfast accommodation.