Fez Bus Tour - Mount Nemrut

Adiyaman Travel Blog

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Caravanserai

Although we were excited about Nemrut, it was sad to think that our amazing trip was almost over. The Nemrut tour didn’t start off so well. There was a lot of confusion, starting with our tour guide. We had one, but he ended up leaving us at some awful road-side restaurant for another tour guide. There was no information about our lunch here – was it included or extra? They told us we could choose from a set menu, but not whether we had one choice – only rice or chicken kebab with rice? We sat down in this fly-infested, dank place and the waiters brought me a lovely chicken kebab. But as I tried to bite into it, it was all bones. I’d had close to about 600 chicken kebabs while in Turkey but NEVER, EVER had I been served bone kebab.

It was going to take a while to drive to Nemrut, but not because of the distance as much as the infrastructure.

Sunrise over the Euphrates
Once out of Cappadocia, you really felt like you were leaving civilization behind. A highway would start off paved, only to disintegrate into gravel and dirt for several miles, then back to pavement. There wasn’t a sign of a tourist trap bus stop where you could buy overpriced water and Turkish knick knacks. But perhaps the biggest change was the complete absence of the “modern” toilet. I cringed upon entering bathrooms with nothing but a hole in the ground, and usually avoided using them. Here, there was no alternative.

We made a quick stop at another caravanserai, and then continued on to the foot of Nemrut. We learned from our tour guide that we would be visiting the mountain before dawn in order to see the sunrise.
The tumulus
That was a wonderful idea, but the thought of leaving the hotel at 4AM wasn’t so appealing. The hotel was the closest to the site, and apparently they felt this was enough of an amenity and that they could have shabby rooms with no ventilation and no one would complain. What a dump. The funniest part of it was that this was an actual hotel, and we had been staying at $25/night hostels that put this place to shame.

A knock on the door at 3:30AM woke us out of our not-so-restful sleep. Despite the fact that we were halfway up a mountain, and that there was an abundance of cool nighttime mountain air just outside our window, none of it seemed to penetrate into our stuffy, overheated room. Grouchy, hungry and exhausted, we trudged from our despised room to the waiting minivan.
It was too dark to see much, which I was thankful for because of my fear of heights. The less I saw of how far from the ground we were, the better.

We got to the gates and it was still pitch black. However, from the gates we were told that there was a 15-20 minute “climb” up to the actual site. They told us to be careful because the air was much thinner 6,000 feet up and that we could lose our breath more easily. The path was also not paved, but just lots of rocky gravel, which was difficult enough to walk on, much more so in the complete darkness. Heights are one of my main irrational fears and I was close to terrified as we made our way slowly up the mountain. Luckily the path was wide, at least until we reached the summit, where you had to hop over this narrow part with (what I imagined to be) a sheer drop just beside it.
Legs shaking, I managed to make it over and was treated with my first glimpse of the magnificent Nemrut.

Were the heads really that small? I felt a bit of disappointment at first. While it was still a really interesting site, I remembered looking at pictures of the “giant” heads on the menu of the Turkish restaurant in Granada – named Nemrut of course – and they had appeared so much bigger. So, after this underwhelming first impression, I took a seat on one of the rocks, peered out over the Euphrates River and waited for the sunrise.

It was a beautiful sight to behold, but it did take a long time! I don’t really know why we had to be woken up at such an early hour only to wait around for another hour for the sun to come up. But, in hindsight as I write in my heated, sun-lit house, I am glad I braved the cold and the height to see it.


Our guide began to tell us a bit about the site. It was the tumulus of King Antiochus, blah blah blah and then he mentioned something about another terrace, where ANOTHER identical but larger sculpture was. This is when my disappointment began to dissipate and I realized the true magnificence of the place. The smaller side we were on was impressive after the initial viewing, but to learn that there were TWO sides was what made it unforgettable.

We walked along another gravelly path to the western terrace and – behold! – there were the larger than life heads I had gazed at while eating doner kebabs in Granada! Unfortunately it had gotten a bit more crowded now that the sun was up and some rude tourist got in my way as I was trying to photograph the heads.
Selcuk bridge
So unfortunately, the shot of me and the head didn’t work. But here is the next best one, although the scale is difficult to make out from the picture alone. It was about the same size as me.

With more bad luck after the rude tourist, my camera battery, purchased just two days before, had started to die. I was able to get a few shots of the remainder of our day. There was a cool old bridge built by the Seljuk Turks,another cool bridge built by the Romans and still in use today (!) and the impressive Ataturk Dam, one of the biggest in the world.

The next part of our trip was the strangest, the most interesting, the scariest and the most memorable. This is when the camera decided to die completely, so unfortunately, I have no pictures of the intriguing city of SanliUrfa, the next and final blog of my Fez Bus tour…

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Caravanserai
Caravanserai
Sunrise over the Euphrates
Sunrise over the Euphrates
The tumulus
The tumulus
Selcuk bridge
Selcuk bridge
Roman bridge
Roman bridge
Ataturk Dam
Ataturk Dam
Adiyaman
photo by: Memo