20-Mar-2005 -- We originally planned to visit a Confluence north east of Ankara but as the weekend weather forecast predicted snow for northern Turkey, we decided to look for points to the South where milder, although wet, weather was expected. 38N 33E is one of those points we had thought about for a few weeks but wondered why confluence hunters had by-passed this area as the three points immediately North, East, and West of 38N 33E had all been successfully visited.
Undaunted, we set off from Ankara on Saturday afternoon for the 250 km trip down the Konya road skirting Tuz Gölü (Salt Lake), the second largest lake in Turkey (Lake Van being the largest). Rather than driving through Konya and then connecting to the Aksaray road, we decided to turn off the Konya road at Yazıbelen and cut diagonally across country to the Aksaray road. A friendly local inhabitant advised us that the road was blocked to traffic and so we proceeded further and turned off in the direction of Eğribayat, and then southeast through farmland to Kızılcakuyu and onto the Aksaray road. From here we planned to drive east to about 33E and then attempt a turn south towards the confluence point. Unfortunately, this plan did not prove to be too promising due to the lack of tracks and the number of fenced-off areas. As it was now late afternoon, the 9 km hike to the point was not possible.
We then decided to recce another route and proceeded to Divanlar (37° 58.998'N 32° 54.079'E) via Zincirli. Both Zincirli and Divanlar are small villages and the 5 km that separates them is mainly farmland. Upon reaching Divanlar, we could see that the point lay somewhere over the Hodulbaba Mountains which are located a few km east of the village. Initially, we thought that it would not be possible to cross the mountains and so drove south past Divanlar to see if we could attack the point from the East; however this did not seem possible and we abandoned the idea.
As night was now falling, we decided to head for a hotel in Konya and plan the next day. Konya is a very old city and Çatalhöyük 50 km to the southeast boasts settlements dating to 6800 BC, which are thought to be some of the oldest known human communities. Konya was also the home of the 13th century philosopher Celaleddin Rumi who founded the Mevlevi Sect which is well known for the "dance" of the Whirling Dervishes.
On Sunday morning, we headed straight for Divanlar and on entering the village met a friendly shepherd who advised us that there was a track up the mountain. Upon exiting the village, we met another villager who confirmed the route we should take. All the villagers we met have proved to be very helpful and friendly although quizzical of what we were doing. Unfortunately, this friendliness does not extend to the village dogs that are fiercely protective of their area and will attack your car as they "encourage" you to leave their property.
We headed east from Divanlar for a few km to the base of the mountains and them ascended up a surprisingly easy climb (although a four-wheel-drive vehicle was helpful). We continued along the track, stopping a few times to view the scenery across the plains towards Konya. The tracks took us further east, although on a few occasions we decided to walk to the point only to realise that we could drive the car a bit further. After a few drive/walk/drive excursions, we managed to drive all the way to the point.
The area around the point proved to be very barren and devoid of all trees. The ground was quite rocky and the small amount of grass would not give much of a meal to the sheep that came to graze a few hundred metres from the point, although during the summer it is expected that the sheep make regular visits to this area as evidenced by the two sheep shelters close to the point which were the only man-made buildings to be seen. As the rain clouds began to appear, we quickly took our photographs and re-treated back to Divanlar and gave the dogs a chance to say their final farewell.