The Hemsin Region, Rize, Turkey.

The Hemsin region, a region of outstanding natural beauty with a unique eco-system and highly distinctive vernacular architecture, is in north-east Turkey not far from the Black Sea coast. Three valleys penetrate into the mountains to the south of the Black Sea, the valley of the River Firtina being the most famous. Other than to the town of Ayder, where most of the region’s tourist facilities exist, public transport and easily negotiated roads are rarely encountered. This said, it is well worth visiting the more remote and highest yaylas, or summer pastures, because the scenery is remarkable. During the relatively short summer season from mid-June to mid-September, accommodation of a basic nature exists in some of the distant hamlets. Moreover, trekking across the mountains is now a popular pastime, so visitors are not the rarity they once were.

Must-see things in the valleys include waterfalls, high-arched stone bridges, large houses built of wood and stone, beautiful wooden serenders (food stores raised on stilts), deciduous forests, summer meadows covered with wild flowers, snow-capped mountains and at least one extraordinary castle. The local fauna includes bears. Many villages and hamlets have been built high on the valley walls. The Hemsin region has rain at all times of the year and the villages and the hamlets are often seen above the low cloud and the mist that gathers along the valley floors.

Do not leave the region without trying the excellent local honey, which is very strong in flavour.

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