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ÇAMLIHEMŞİN

Heart of Hemşin country                            Population: 1,400

CamliThe road from Ardeşen on the eastern Black Sea coast cuts inland along the beautiful valley of the Fırtına river heading for Çamlıhemşin, a one-street town that is nothing less a lot bigger than Ayder. Here you'll find basic shops such as a bakery, a couple of waterside restaurants and a large tea garden. Here, too, you'll find taxis to take you further up the valley to Şenyuva, Zil Castle and Çat. 

The Fırtına seems to be taking over where the Çoruh is being forced to leave off as the rafting centre of Turkey and there were at least six companies operating along it at the time of writing. 

There's no sightseeing to be done in Çamlıhemşin itself, although there's a find waterfall to the right of the road as you come into town and a pair of humpacked bridges guarding the road junction as you leave for Ayder or Şenyuva.Konaklar

The one exception is the Konak (Orta) Mahalle just out of town on the road to Şenyuna. Here in staggeringly lofty positions you'll see some enormous wood and stone houses dating back to the 19th century and built by those returning from working in Russia with money to spend (the Nişanyans) or by Armenians (my taxi driver).

None of the mansions is open to the public but you can drive around looking at their solid, if largely undecorative, exteriors and if youre lucky some may invite you to admire the enormous stone fireplaces and the incredible views from the tall windows. Most come equipped with wooden serenders (Black Sea granaries) and/or with wooden structures fitted with shelves on which sit circular beehives.

At the southern end of Çamlıhemşin the road forks. The left fork goes off to Ayder, the right fork to Şenyuva.

White-water rafting

The Fırtına Vadisi appears to be taking over from the Çoruh as the place to come for white-water rafting thrills (June through August). At least six companies are now operating along the river. 

Dağ Rafting Tel: 0464-752 4070, www.dagraft.com

Fırtına Rafting Tel: 0464-751 8153, www.firtinarafting.com

Best places to eat

MoyyPause in the local bakery to pick up a slice of Laz böreği, which is rather like a Danish pastry, or a Hemşin ketesi, a thick bun stuffed with helva. 

Otherwise there's a dear little waterside cafe, the Moyy (Hemşin for strawberry) right in the centre where you can get such luxuries as plum tart or apple cake to go with a fliter coffee.

Transport info

There are four buses a day in high summer from Rize to Çamlıhemşin and hourly ones in the middle fo the day from Pazar. Expect far fewer services in winter. Bridge

 

Day trip destinations

Ayder

Zil Kalesi

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