Mahya Dağı in the Turkish Strandja Mountains is probably the only mountain in the project European Peaks where I didn’t like my stay and I was looking forward to leave. At the top there is a base of the Turkish army and they don’t like to be spied on or even photographed. I would like to mention something positive about climbing the top of Mahya Dağı, but unfortunately there is no such thing. You can reach the summit by car and there is a nice view but nothing remarkable. Anyway, this is your guide how to reach the highest point of European side of Turkey including my personal experience.
Important information for visiting the highest point of of European side of Turkey – Mahya Dagi
Short description of the ascent: Short easy walk Essential equipment: Nothing special, it's a short walk Best time to visit: All year round Fees or restrictions: No Camping allowed: Yes Height of the peak: 1,031 m Hiking distance: 0 m - you can park just next to the highest point (If you want to walk to the highest point there is a heliport nearby the peak and you can park next to it) Time to ascend: 0 minutes (you can park just next to the highest point) Difficulty level: * (6 stars maximum) Personal rating of the mountain: * (6 stars maximum) Beer on the peak: Efes lager ** (6 stars maximum)
Map of the position of Mahya Dagi
My story of reaching Mahya Dagi with personal tips
I climbed the highest point of European side of Turkey as a part of my project European Peaks during which I climbed the highest peak of every European country. Mahya Dağı with an elevation of 1,031 m is the highest point of the European part of Turkey only. The highest absolute point in Turkey is Mount Ararat with a height of 5,137 meters. However, it is located in the Asian part of the country, so it isn’t included in this project.
I visited Turkey by myself. It was actually just a 24 hour stopover on the way to Russia to climb Elbrus, the highest point of Europe. I landed at Istanbul airport, picked up my rental car and drove to the west.
Crazy Istanbul traffic
Soon I discovered the main obstacle on the way to Mahya Dağı – transport. Istanbul is Europe’s largest city, so it isn’t surprising that it is known for traffic jams. Since I landed in the Asian part of Istanbul I had to drive through the whole city. It was rush hour so I had fun being stuck in traffic.
My goal was to stay as close as possible to Mahya Daği so that I could get up early in the morning and climb the summit during sunrise. The mountain isn’t a popular tourist destination so there weren’t many possibilities. In the end I stayed at a hotel in the village Saray about one hour’s drive from Mahya Daği.
Due to the traffic jams I arrived at the hotel very late. I was surprised how lively the local restaurant was. Why is everyone so happy? I realized it when I got to my room. It was Ramadan. Muslims came to life after dark. I was tired though and didn’t join the festivities. Instead I went to sleep to wake up for sunrise at Mahya Daği.
I woke up at 4:30. It was tough to get out of bed but it was worth it. The advantage of traveling early was that the roads were completely empty. I reached the summit of Mahya Daği exactly at sunrise. I stopped about 300 meters below the mountain with a nice view on the summit to take some pictures.
After picture time, I continued up. Since there is a military base and since it is strictly prohibited to photograph on Mahya Daği (I had read from previous visitors that there is even a risk of an arrest because of taking photos) I drove as quietly as possible not to disturb the potential security on the top. I needed at least one photo from there.
I parked at an old heliport just below the summit. I had a nice view of the morning shadow of the mountain. It was obvious that Mahya Daği isn’t that small of a hill. I walked the last hundred meters to the summit in silence. I must say I felt respect. Barbed wires, huge photo-prohibiting signs, and a frightening-looking radar suggested that the Turkish armed forces would really get rid of the photo shooting Jarda quickly. Being arrested in Turkey has never been one of my dreams so I secretly took only one decent selfie and returned to my car. Overall, it was my shortest visit of all the European mountains.
My mission was complete. I still had a half day before my flight to Russia so I took advantage of it and discovered Istanbul. I mostly liked the Grand Bazaar which is visited by over a quarter of a million people every day. You’ll find everything there. I bought the perfect energy supplies for Elbrus in the form of dried fruit and Turkish delight.
My tips for climbing the mountain Mahya Dağı:
- Mahya Dağı isn’t a very interesting place. However, adrenaline enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the summit. Where else in Europe can you be arrested for just taking a photo?
- Avoid rush hour.