Erzurum – for the Kaçkar (South side) and Çoruh. Erzurum airport is mainly a domestic airport and is closed at night. It is 15km from the city, with a municipal bus service between the city, bus terminal and airport. Trabzon – for the Kaçkar (North side). Trabzon has domestic and international terminals and is only about 5km E of the city. Frequent coast-road buses to Rize and points east pass the airport gate.
- Turkish Airlines/Anadolu Jet (THY): The national carrier; excellent service but not the cheapest. International flights from many cities on all continents to Istanbul or Ankara; onward flights to all internal airports.
- Pegasus Airlines: International flights from European and Russian destinations including to Istanbul; Europe and Georgia to Trabzon. Connecting internal flights to 18 different airports.
- Sun Express: International flights from Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria (all year around), Norway, Sweden to Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir. Internal flights to Erzurum and Trabzon from Istanbul and İzmir.
- Onur Air: Internal flights from Istanbul to Trabzon and Erzurum.
In general, Turkish trains are very cheap, but the routes are circuitous and the journey takes much longer than buses. Istanbul trains start from Haydarapaşa railway station on the Asian side and go to Ankara, Erzincan and Erzurum. Sleepers are very comfortable and give you a chance to look at the countryside. Sleeping places are normally in 4-bunk compartments, with pillow and sheet provided. Women will certainly not have to share with strange men. Even the reclining seats are quite comfortable. Long-distance trains have a dining car with cheap but good meals and sometimes beer. Currently, it’s almost impossible to buy a ticket over the internet; get tickets at the station before you travel.
The overnight and all-day intercity buses are clean and well serviced and are comparatively cheap. Trabzon, Erzurum and Artvin all have bus terminals, usually outside the city proper. Small city-centre shops sell tickets and offer a shuttle bus to the terminal. Normally you can get a ticket at the last minute, but around public holidays or in the peak season buses can book up. The buses stop every 4 hours at service stations where you can buy food; light refreshments and water are served on the bus. Many companies have easy-to-use websites. Just type your start and ending places into Google.
All these bus times are for the summer season; for off-season, check first.
South side: Erzurum (Şükrüpaşa Semt Garaj) – Yusufeli. 4 Yeşil Artvin buses daily, 6am – 4pm. The following run from Yusufeli otogar: – Yusufeli – Barhal dolmuşes 2 from Barhal at 7am; returning to Barhal in afternoon. – Yusufeli – Yaylalar or Olgunlar dolmuşes depart 6 or 6.30 am and return during the afternoon/evening. They will take you to Mikelis, Karamolla or Olgunlar. – Yusufeli – Tekkale – Kılıçkaya or Güngören dolmuşes run several times per day. – Yusufeli – Peterek/Çevreli dolmuşes run about 6am and return in the afternoon; Kılıçkaya buses cross the Peterek bridge. Barhal – Amanesket or other trails. Local dolmuşes run to Naznara/Amanesket for Karagöl. Check with your pension owner.
North side: Trabzon (terminal / airport) – Pazar – Ayder runs from Prenskale office on N side of road to Pazar, 100m E. Also a stop for (slower) Pazar dolmuşes opposite the airport exit. Pazar – Çamlıhemşin – Ayder dolmuşes runs from a signed bus stop on Pazar high street; 4-5 times per day in season, less in winter. Çamlıhemşin – Ayder dolmuşes run frequently until 5pm. Ardeşen – Çamlıhemşin – Çat – Elevit – Tirovit dolmuşes run early am and return from mid-afternoon onwards. Ardeşen – Çamlıhemşin – Başyayla dolmuşes run on Saturday in season and return on Sunday. Ardeşen – Ayder – Avusör dolmuş passes through Ayder at 9am and returns from Avusor at 3 pm. Ayder – Kaler Düzü – Yukarı Kavron dolmuşes run several times a day according to demand, starting 9am. The last return is at 5pm. For transport for groups to other trails, ask at the dolmuş office/stop in central Ayder.