sazlik1South of Kayseri at Ovaçiftliği near Yahyalı the Sultan Marshes are a 21,000-hectare expanse of wetlands that attract a wide range of birdlife - 301 different species at the last count.

This is one of the best places to go birdwatching in Turkey helped by the fact that the guides based at the pension across from the site entrance can loan visitors excellent binoculars as well as show them the birds through a powerful telescope and in a Turkish guide to birds. 

The big selling point is the chance to see flamingoes who arrive here to nest on their way back from Africa every spring. In reality, though, you are unlikely to see the flamingoes unless you have a lot of time at your disposal. 

No matter because the wide range of wading birds, ducks, terns, and marsh-loving shrikes and harriers is excellent - you are unlikely to leave without seeing any interesting birds at all. With luck you will also see a gelengi, a burrowing ground squirrel, and/or a sansar (marten).

The site is especially beautiful because it sits in front of Erciyes Dağı (Mt Erciyes) which is snowcapped for much of the year.

With your own transport you can drive out into the marshes yourself although unless you have good equipment of your own this is unlikely to be a very rewarding experience.

Alternatively you can take a boat trip onto the saline lake here or a jeep ride into the marshes. Expect to pay around 150 euros for two hours with transport and a guide. 

Officially there is a visitor centre at the site but when I visited it was being used for official meetings and had no information on the marshes or the birds. Behind it a wooden viewing tower stands on a walkway for those who don't have time for a proper tour.

The tepee-shaped "haystacks" near the hide and in the village gardens are actually cut reeds which are exported to Europe for use as thatching. sazlik2


Right opposite the official entrance to the marshes the Sultan Pansiyon (Tel: 0352-658 5549) offers comfortable if not especially beautiful doubles and one single to birdwatchers who want to be up with the lark to have the best chance of seeing the birds.

There's a ground-floor dining room and tables set out on the porch where you can also relax in wicker chairs in the evening. 

Transport info

Hourly buses from Kayseri skirt the village. You'll need to walk about one km from the road to the pension.

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