Altiparmak (Barhal) river, located in the province of Artvin, emerges from the southern side of the Kackar Mountains and runs about 40 km to join the Coruh river 2 km south of Yusufeli.
The Altiparmak flows through a strikingly beautiful valley enveloped by high mountains. Recommended for canoeing and rafting, the river has a high flow-rate year round because of the run-off of melting snow. The valley is rich in wildlife. Proximity to the Kackar Mountains, one of the best areas in Turkey for trekking, makes the Altiparmak a favorite of sportsmen.
The basin of the Altiparmak can be reached by Yusufeli via Artvin or Erzurum. Ögdem Creek joins the Altiparmak 6 km from Yusufeli. The town of Sarigöl is located 19 km from Yusufeli and is accessible by a stabilized gravel road.
The neighborhood of Deftise, situated about 1.5 km beyond Sarigöl, is distinguished by wooden two-story houses built in traditional Black Sea style. Edged by dense green forests, these picturesque houses and the misty summit of the Kackar Mountains above create a very beautiful panorama.
The village of Altiparmak (Barhal) is accessible from Sarigöl via a narrow, 12 km long road. People in Altiparmak village are very hospitable and pleasant and simple inns accept guests. This village serves as one of the main campsites on the climb up Kackar Mountain.
A stabilized road leads to Yaylalar, 24 km beyond Altiparmak village. The Artvin Kackar Tourism Center is located to the west of Yaylalar.
The pretty hamlet of Deftise, north of Sarigöl, provides the best starting point for canoe and raft expeditions down the Altiparmak, which runs approximately 22 km from this point to the junction with the Coruh. The run is class 3-4. The riverbed is rocky, and special care needs to be taken when the river is low.
Three km from Sarigöl, the ruins of an old fortress can be seen. The citadel of Bahceli is visible to the right of the creek before reaching Yusufeli, after crossing the concrete bridge located near the junction of Ögdem creek and the Altiparmak. The run may be completed either at Yusufeli or 2 km ahead, before the Altiparmak flows into the Coruh River. May through August are the best months to plan a canoe or raft trip on the Altiparmak.
WHAT TO SEE
The area around the Altiparmak ranks as one of the most beautiful in Turkey. The hamlets located on the skirts of the Kackar Mountains and along the river, the gardens and orchards which follow the twists and turns of the waterway through the valley, and the mist shrouded summits combine to produce a picture of remarkable beauty.
Bahceli Kalesi is the most impressive fortress in the valley, perched in all its grandeur on a rocky outcrop near Yusufeli. The ruins of a second fortress are visible further up the mountainside.
Most trekkers and mountain climbers to the Kackar Mountain's stop at Yusufeli before setting out, spending their first day in the town to buy provisions and find a local guide. July, August and September are the best months for expeditions to the area.
The Yusufeli region has numerous historic citadels, churches, hamams and cellars that are interesting to visit. The medieval Georgian churches of Dörtkilise, Ishan, Barhal and Demirkent are especially noteworthy and the Tortum waterfall is unusually beautiful.
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