Watch horse-drawn sleighs glide down this magical Turkish lake
Located between the eastern provinces of Kars and Ardahan, Turkey Lake Çıldır provides an icy backdrop for winter festivities in the heart of the Caucasus mountain range.
As the lake freezes over, tourists take advantage of its frosty surface to take horse-drawn sleigh rides through the dramatic landscape.
And for the locals, it is an opportunity to introduce their customs to a foreign public.
“Here we keep our culture alive, our traditions from the past,” says Orhan Goller, seasonal sled driver on the lake.
“We show them to visitors, we explain them and show them the way of life we have here.”
Çıldır is the second largest lake in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey, covering an area of over 123 square kilometers.
Those visit the neighborhood You can enjoy a number of traditional activities organized by the local community, including horseback riding, javelin throwing and even a Turkish ‘halay’ line dance.
But sleigh rides are by far the most popular activity, with visitors eager to claim their place in one of the traditional Russian troikas.
“These cars are our means of transportation,” says Goller.
“In the past, our grandparents, our ancestors used them to go to the hospital, to travel to other villages in the region. And these days people are curious about them, so we take them.”
Located at 1,959 meters above sea level, Cıldır Lake begins to freeze in early winter when the temperature drops to minus ten degrees Celsius at night.
Every year, locals patiently wait for the lake’s icy surface to reach 40 to 45 centimeters thick before starting their activities.
“The lake freezes from December, it will start melting again in March and in April it will have thawed completely,” says Goller.
But the festivities don’t stop there.
As spring arrives, Lake Çıldır hosts the annual Lovers’ Festival – a colorful celebration attract visitors from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan to the beautiful mountainous region.
Watch the video above to learn more.