Mt. Nemrut is one of those places that’s all about the journey, not the destination. Sure, it’s pretty cool to stumble upon some 2000 year old mausoleum at the top of the mountain, where an assembly of throned figures with their stone heads laying at their feet await you. But the truth is that you would never stumble across this place, or the top of any other mountain, without actually trying to get there.
For my sister and me, the trip started in Cappadochia, and Mt. Nemrut was a pit stop on our track to head further east into Turkey. At some point on this leg, Emily remarked that most of Turkey is mountainous, and I think that my posts for the next week or so will definitely demonstrate this. So, for all of you friends that still think I live in a desesrt full of camels, get ready to see some big green mountains!
Because our ultimate destination was northwest Turkey, we decided to stay on the northern side of Mt. Nemrut. The national park is still pretty new. You approach it from the north or south face of the mountain but can’t drive between as there is no accessible road to pass over. Either way, you have to drive all the way up the mountain and hike a bit more to see the jewel at the top.
The drive up the mountain is a bit harrowing with all the pinturns and steep drops but absolutely gorgeous . Although my car seemed a little tired and perhaps overheated by the time we got to the park, I think it was well worth the drive.
Once you get to the top of the mountain you see the stone ruins and then what?
We had heard that sunrise and sunsest were spectacular, so we decided to hang around for a couple of hours to wait for the view. We had a snack, hiked to the other side and back, and then just found some rocks to chill on away from the growing mass of tourists. Emily made wildflower crowns while I played with my camera settings.
Finally the sun started dropping and we headed back to the peak. There were people everywhere and they had all taken the plum viewing spots. We didn’t spend much time with the masses, but still managed to get a few shots of the setting sun. Even more impressive, for me, was the view to the eastern side of the mountain. The sky was pink with rain descending from the cloud layer and smoke reaching up. I really wanted to stay and savor the beautiful sky, but the wind picked up so much that it was difficult to stand up straight.
Hotel options are limited on both sides of Mt. Nemrut. We stayed at the Guneş Hotel which got pretty bad reviews on TripAdvisor but is located directly across from the park entrance. Our room was bare bones and uncomfortably pink but the food was decent. They even accomodated a vegetarian with a hot meal, which rarely happens in Turkey. The downside was that at 4 a.m. the staff banged, unsolicited, on every room door to wake up the guests for the sunrise trip to the mountain. We weren’t interested and tried to roll over and ignore the noise, but they kept pounding on the door until I actually got out of bed to inform them.