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YUSUFELİ

Turkey's first white-water rafting town                           Population: 6,500

YusufMarket day: Saturday

In a stunning mountain location on the banks of the Çoruh river with craggy rocks leering down on all sides, Yusufeli is rather a sad little town that has had its future mortgaged to the needs of the vast Artvin dam project. The result has been to put the brake on development here since it looks unlikely that the popular Çoruh white-water rafting businesses can survive once the valley is flooded. 

That said, after many years in which nothing at all happened here except that the little old hotels fell more and more behind the times, the last few years have seen the arrival of some more upmarket places to stay. If you can afford it, the Hotel Barcelona must be the first choice because of its quiet location, but the new Hotel Almatur is also surprisingly pleasant if you can forgive the excessive external branding. 

A quick stroll around town will assure you that Yusufeli itself has no sights to see. It is, however, a good base for visiting several ancient Georgian churches in the surrounding valleys. 

Forget any hope of fine dining here although drinking tea with the locals at the Köprübaşı and Mahzen tea houses, facing each other across a Çoruh suspension bridge, should pass the time nicely. 

Sleeping

Yusufeli still has a lot of very basic unstarred places to stay. The best is probably the Baraka facing the Köprübaşı tea house.

Hotel Almatur

Hotel Barcelona. Great location on the quiet outskirts of Yusufeli and with an on-site pool. Tel: 0466-811 2627

Travel info

There are regular minibuses from Erzurum and Artvin to Yusufeli although the last ones leave around 5pm.

In Sept 2012 minibuses to Yusufeli were leaving from a temporary stand midway up the hill at Artvin. By the time you read this they may be leaving from the new otogar at the foot of the hill.

Yusufeli itself is something of a transport blackspot with the last bus to Erzurum leaving at 11am and the last to Artvin at 2pm. The dolmuş to Barhal leaves at an uncertain time in early afternoon and the dolmuş to İşhan departs as and when the driver feels like it.

To get to Erzurum later in the day you can take one of the Artvin buses to the junction with the main road and wait for a passing bus at the petrol station, but you might have a very long wait.

Day trip destinations

Barhal

Dörtkilise

Georgian Valleys

Tekkale

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