The Van-Bahçesaray road in 2005

The main road from Van to Bahçesaray leads over Turkey's highest mountain pass, locally known as Karapet Pass (3000 m.) This route became only popular in the 20th century. Earlier travellers to Bahçesaray took a shorter route from the north, stopping for the night at the monastery annex kervansaray of Haneputye.

We took the Karapet road for the first time in 2005, shortly after the snow melted sufficiently to allow traffic. We were not aware that we were among the first visitors of the season. Parts of the road were then still unpaved. Particularly the descent into the deep valleys of Bahçesaray was perilous. Actually the last part of the road was so steep, that we were obliged to return to Van with a long detour via Hizan district (Bitlis).

In 2009 the Karapet road was broadened and paved, in principle allowing for traffic all year around, although in practice heavy snowfall made the road occasionally impassable. Moreover there was a danger of avalanches. Recently a snow tunnel was constructed on the pass height.

The photos were taken only 14 years ago but already show history. Not even is the road much better than now, the physical aspect of the villages along the road also changed.

For pictures of the renewed road in winter, see the links below.

Yukarınarlıca (Yukarıdarnis)

The second of only two villages on the road to Bahçesaray, 20 km before the pass.

Çatak - Bahçesaray, 2005

Pass height (3000 m)

Çatak - Bahçesaray, 2005
Çatak - Bahçesaray, 2005

Descent into the green valleys of Bahçesaray

Çatak - Bahçesaray, 2005
Çatak - Bahçesaray, 2005
Çatak - Bahçesaray, 2005

and arrival at dusk

Çatak - Bahçesaray, 2005
Çatak - Bahçesaray, 2005

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