ISTANBUL: Hundreds of miles away from the shores of the Mediterranean and Aegean, a mountain lake southeast of Elazığ in eastern Anatolia is attracting dozens and dozens of heat-stricken vacationers looking for places to cool off during the summer.
Located in the Sivrice district about 26 kilometers (16 miles) from the city center, Lake Hazar attracts holidaymakers with its tectonic character as a rift lake and its unique scenery, natural beauties and tourist facilities.
The lake offers several water sports, camping and hiking opportunities at an elevation of 1,250 meters (4,101 feet) above sea level. The lake also has a 56-kilometer-long shoreline that stretches between Mount Hazarbaba and Mastar, creating the perfect grounds for lounging on a sandy beach.
Ibrahim Bahçeci, the owner of a tourist facility around the lake, said about 4,000 people visit the lake daily.
“The fresh air at Lake Hazar, its clear waters and natural beauties attract people. Lake Hazar is really a vital place for the people in the region,” Bahçeci said, adding that the number of visitors has climbed since temperatures have risen.
Şehmuz Altınbap, a visitor who came from Belgium to visit his hometown in southeastern Diyarbakır province, said he comes to the lake on a day trip when he finds the time.
“We visit here twice or thrice a year,” Altınbağ said, adding that they are trying to travel as much as they can to see the natural beauties of Turkey.
Lina Ak, a tourist who visited the lake for the first time, said she really liked the scenery and planned to visit the place again.
Dubbed “the secret sea of the East,” the lake was formerly known as Lake Geoljuk and is one of the notable sources of the Tigris River.
The lake also houses a mysterious 4,000-year-old underwater city, which is thought to have been submerged in the lake’s water since 1830. The Turkish Tourism and Culture Ministry is working to register this historic “Sunken City” on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.