As we skirted along the Black Sea, we decided to take a detour near Samsun to check out Şahinkaya Canyon. This journey did not lack in scenery!
After passing miles of tobacco and sunflower fields, we entered the district of Vezirköprü, named after an Ottoman of Albanian descent. The town center is a historical Bedesten, with four gates and 110 shops inside the Bedesten once used as a caravanserai. Outside is a covered bazaar lined with merchants selling everything imaginable.
Not far from the historical Bedesten is the Clock Tower, built by District Governor Ahmed Resit Efendi. The first tower is rumored to have been built in 1094. After seeing the Clock Tower, head over to the Köprülü Mehmet Paşa Mosque. The inside walls of the mosque are filled with artistic details worth viewing.
More history can be learned about this region of Turkey by visiting Adbulla Derici Konagi Mansion. For many years the mansion offered a free place to stay until 2015, when the city restored the building and turned it into a museum. You can find the mansion among other historic houses, which is free to visit between 8:30 -17:30, 6 days a week, except Mondays.
After a short stop in Vezirköprü, we continued our journey to the Şahinkaya Canyon. The winding road through the hills filled with colorful pine trees and stunning views made the drive enjoyable.
One of Turkey’s undiscovered gems, approximately 17km northwest of Vezirköprü and 125 km from Samsun, is Şahinkaya Canyon. Here, you will find Turkey’s longest river, The Red River (or, in Turkish, Kizilirmak).
To reach the canyon, you must enter the Şahinkaya National Park. The park offers many outdoor activities from canoeing, camping, picnic, nature walk, photography, boat tours, and amateur fishing. Here you will discover natural caves consisting of limestone bedrocks in the canyon are among the other resource values of the area.
Şahinkaya Canyon is the narrowest and longest passage on Kızılırmak. It is a 2.5 km long canyon formed because of mountain formation (Orogeny) and river erosion.
Şahinkaya Canyon, located in the Altınkaya Dam Lake in the Vezirköprü District, is the center of attention of local and foreign tourists coming to the city. The depth of the water is 106 meters, and the canyon height is 340 meters in the canyon with a length of 3 thousand 250 meters. Therefore, Şahinkaya Canyon was declared a tourism region in 2012.
As we made our way down to the boat dock, we did not make any prearrangements for a boat tour. There are many boat tours to choose from at the pier. We selected Aileye Ozel Tur, who was very friendly and eager to show us the lake. On the day of our visit, the water looked like glass. The boat tour glided through the canyon as we admired the beauty in front of us. The landscape that skirted along the water’s edge was stunning. Our boat ride took about an hour, seeing a few birds, and appreciating the canyon rocks carved by water over time.
I am so happy we decided to take this detour from Samsun and see the Şahinkaya National Park. Spending a full day in the park, exploring the lake on a boat tour, and cooling off with a swim is an excellent way to spend the day.
- Şahinkaya National Park Admission: 24TL per car
- Boat Tours: 40TL per person