By Meltem Yilmaz
TRABZON, Turkey (AA) – Steep cliffs lining the Kizilirmak River in northeastern Turkey have become a major stop for rock climbers and nature enthusiasts.
Trabzon province is home to Sahinkaya Canyon, a natural wonder featuring mesmerizing castle-like landscape, dense pine forests and climbing and trekking routes to push the limits of adventure.
Sahinkaya has recently caught international attention as ever more local and foreign tourists flock to the stone bluffs, hundreds of meters high.
A group of leading Turkish rock climbers led by Swiss climber Michel Piola recently opened new routes along Sahinkaya in preparation of the Third International Rock Climbing Festival slated for late August.
The festival will involve a variety of activities with many foreign climbers taking part. Apart from rock climbing, Sahinkaya National Park is also available for camping options for those looking to embrace mother nature.
On top of sports options, the unique scenery in Sahinkaya Canyon is a must-visit location for eager photographers.
"With its rock texture and easy transportation, Sahinkaya has come to the forefront in the past few years and became the first stop for adrenaline seekers," said Ali Ayvazoglu, the provincial director for culture and tourism.
Ayvazoglu said the canyon offered 45 officially registered routes, with different degrees of difficulty, in addition to many traditional routes.
He went on to say that Sahinkaya has become the center for climbing sports with its new routes and growing potential.
Zeynep Bayoglu, the head of TEDAK — an adrenaline sports club in Trabzon province — said she has completed many climbing events and organized activities in Sahinkaya Canyon.
Expressing that Sahinkaya first began emerging as a prime location in 2008 with its eight routes, Bayoglu said interest towards this natural wonder grew with the opening of new routes.
"At its current level, Sahinkaya has begun to host international events," she added.
*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas