After that we took
a day off and then ran the middle Barhal.
You can see a lot of this from the road as you drive up to
Parhal. If you don't feel confident, don't get on ! 10km of
eddy to eddy work with a severe tree risk. When we went back
a day later it had risen six inches in town but a full grade
to V-VI and definitely not our cup of tea anymore. Adding
the 18km run back to town made for a full day enjoyed by all,
especially those who got free raki from the locals on the
A couple of repeat sections and a quick
jaunt up the Altu Cayi rounded off the paddling,
215km in all ran in 9 days on the river.
To relax we hired a local guide and went walking into the
mountains, reaching nearly 10,000 feet by kicking steps. Unfortunately
the crater lakes were still frozen but the views were stunning.
Two days seeing the sights in Istanbul completed the holiday.
This early in the season things were quite high and lots of
the Coruh was big water grade IV. As we all tend to class
ourselves as river runners rather than playboaters this was
fine but the quality of the playing is supposed to be better
in July. In May the tributaries were running and lots of fun,
could easily be quite dry later in the season. Really there
is only a weeks worth of paddling out of Yusufeli but you'll
want to repeat many of the sections and get in local sight
seeing as well, so a couple of weeks is probably the ideal
We flew to Erzurum from London Heathrow via Istanbul and Ankara
Airlines. They proved to be incredibly kayak friendly
and helpful, despite seeming to be the only carrier on the
final leg of the flights. Coming back we stayed an extra couple
of nights in Istanbul and had no problems storing our boats
at the airport.
For local transport we hired minibuses as required. This
proved to be cheaper than hiring a bus plus a driver permanently
but bigger groups might want to consider it. Most of the runs
are centred in Yusufeli. We took our own straps and these
proved to be very useful for tying boats onto the top of buses
without having to use the frayed bit of string.
A self-supported trip to this region of Turkey is easy. The
locals are incredibly helpful and nowhere near as pushy as
those sometimes found selling carpets in touristy areas. Very
few speak English but this isn't a problem, learn to count
to five and point at things and you are away.
Kit wise, we all paddled in drycags, light thermals and shorts
with empty boats as we planned to return to town each evening.
This never proved difficult. In practice we had sleeping bags
but these were only used for dossing at Ankara airport on
the way out. Air temperatures were warm, high twenties, and
water temperatures were a little below allowing a shortie
(but then it was early season).
Unfortunately we left all ours neatly tucked into the back
of an airline seat, not that that proved to be much of a problem.
On the Coruh you just get on wherever you like and get off
when you get tired. The road runs along the side for large
portions of the route, although scrambling up the scree can
be scary. Drop in on Dave
Manby at Gemil's Pension in Dortkilise if you need additional
local info. Map wise, all the ones we took with us (including
some prettily coloured topographic ones) proved to be useless
for river running. The roads (where marked at all) are often
on the wrong bank and bridge placements are therefore arbitrary.
Try comparing any two you may happen to have in detail.
Further useful links:
article on the Coruh
Canoeist article on the Barhal