Forgotten Black Lake of Murgul

murg1If you're staying in Borçka in northeastern Turkey and have a car you might want to attempt to get to the third of three local Karagöls (Black Lakes), which lies to the southwest near the small town of Murgul.

Here you're passing from the realms of the most basic touristic development and into the realms of adventure. 

The closest you can get to this lovely small lake by public transport is the dreary industrial settlement of Damar (Maden), itself accessible by infrequent dolmuş from Murgul. From here the road disintegrates into 4WD territory, switchbacking up into the mountains until you begin to wonder whether the pictures you think you’ve seen of the lake must be fantasy.

Then suddenly the road opens out and you can pull up and gaze down into a deep pool of dark blue water, its shores highlighted with patches of red, purple and white rhododendrons.murg2 

Here, too, you’ll spot yellow rhododendrons with a scent as sweet as jasmine that can produce a honey (“deli bal” – mad honey) that drives people insane, as recorded by Xenophon amongst others. The effects are usually temporary, which is just as well given the state of the local roads.

As for poor old Damar (Maden), despite its spectacular mountain setting it will remind British visitors of an especially benighted council estate of semi-abandoned high-rises. These originally housed the workers at the local copper mine (maden).


There's nowhere to sleep at the lake itself and the hotels in Borçka are best avoided if at all possible. Artvin offers slightly better options.

Transport info

There are infrequent dolmuşes from Borçka otogar to Murgul where you may be able to find an onward dolmuş to Damar.

From there it's still a long drive along an unmarked road. Definitely a trip best done with a private car and a local guide.

murg3Hmmm, what have we here?

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