Spring Just Sprung In Eastern Turkey – And We’re Loving It!

At the moment, we’re on the final leg of a bit of a trek around Turkey. If you remember when we wrote about our Turkey travel plans (so far) for 2013, we said we would go north from Fethiye by bus up to Eskişehir, across to Ankara by high speed train and then we would take the overnight Van Gölü Express train from Ankara to Lake Van in the east of Turkey.

A few train issues later, we persevered and finally got a train to take us east to visit our friend who is currently teaching in the town of Patnos, just north of Lake Van (we’ve got blog posts coming up on all of this in the future). Patnos, like many other places in central Eastern Turkey has a harsh winter and it’s still cold – but the weather is on the turn. We’ve only been here a few days and the scenery has already changed dramatically.

Poppies Near Iğdır, Eastern Turkey

View through the windscreen – note the crack

This is our friend’s first year of teaching in the east and she said that when she arrived for the start of term last September, all you could see was scorched brown hills, after the dry summer. Scorched brown hills became white as the snow started to fall over winter. And now we’re here in springtime and the white – still topping the higher hills and mountains – is turning green. And it’s getting noticeably greener by the day – really special to watch. It’s the first time she’s witnessed the greenery, too.

But what’s more special is the red you can see in the photo. This is a sure sign spring has arrived to the eastern side of Turkey. We’ve just completed a mini road trip of the area – and on early Saturday evening we drove into the town of Iğdır to stay the night for a rest. Today, on the way back to Patnos, we again drove along the same road, out of Iğdır, and from half a mile or so away, we could see a carpet of red that wasn’t there a couple of days before.

Iğdır Scenery, Eastern Turkey

Poppies flooding the plateaus of Eastern Turkey

We decided it might be poppies (I was really hoping it would be poppies) so we decided to make a quick stop when we reached the area. For years, we’ve looked at photos of the region around Lake Van and read about the masses of spring flowers, and to be honest, we hadn’t seen too many until we were driving back today. This must be the time of year they appear and it’s as though they’ve sprung to life overnight.

Iğdır Scenery, Eastern Turkey

Iğdır Scenery, Eastern Turkey

It was poppies! Happy days. We were travelling in convoy with friends in another car so we all pulled over to get out and go over to take photos. It’s impossible to describe the vast open areas, the immense space, the mountains, plateaus, rivers and streams around Eastern Turkey – we’ll let our hundreds of photos do that for us over the coming weeks – and this mass of poppies was a real sight.

Caterpillar, Eastern Turkey

Do you know what type of caterpillar this is?

And if you read this blog a lot, you’ll be aware that our knowledge of flora and fauna is sadly lacking and, apart from finding out the names of a couple of the wildflowers around Kayaköy, doesn’t stretch much past the wonder that is the poppy. So again, we’re not sure what these yellow wildflowers are, but these too have burst onto the scene in abundance, lining the roadsides and occasionally partitioning the crowds of red.

We set about photographing these too, getting up close and personal – and then one of our group pointed out the caterpillars that were all over them. Unlike the processionary caterpillar we see in Fethiye, a quick search online hasn’t given us any information about this little being, so we have no idea if it’s dangerous. A quick couple of photos was enough for us before we left them to get on with life…and if they all become butterflies around the same time, imagine what a sight that would be.

As usual, if you know anything about either the yellow wildflowers or the caterpillars that so enjoy them, we’d love to hear from you. Thanks!

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  1. Love it! It is amazing to see spring just pop up like this. Your fat caterpillar reminds me of a butterfly one. Where’s Alan to identify it all? 😉

  2. Anonymous says

    Not sure of the caterpillar but the flower looks like a type of Euphorbia (common name Spurge). They have sap which you don’t want to get on your skin so be careful if you are in the fields in bare legs. -CD

  3. Looks dangerous to me! I love the way Turkey seems to turn green overnight.

  4. Aww, loved the poppy scene and that amazing caterpillar, what a shot Julia! I have no idea of the type I am afraid, we all await for Alan to come back with an answer 🙂 Enjoy the travels, and have plenty of that Turkish breakfast in Van, especially otlu peynir for me please : )

  5. Alan’s here Joy 🙂 Anon has it right with Euphorbia – as for the caterpillar it has the markings for the Surge Hawk-moth (Hyles euphorbiae) but the colouring is wrong. Whatever, it is definitely a Hawk-moth of some sort and the colouring could be due to mineral content of the area.
    Now you are seeing why J and I love the east of the country – I think you’ll be back.

  6. @Joy: It was such a surprise – a lovely one of course – to see all the red. Alan has popped up below it seems. 😉

    @ Anonymous: Thanks for that. No bare legs for us in Eastern Turkey. 🙂

  7. @ Jack Scott: Whenever I see any type of insect or animal, I always think of the danger factoe first. 😉

    @ Ozlem’s Turkish Table: The poppy scene made us all excited. 🙂 Will be going to Van soon and are looking forward to the Van breakfast. Look out for it in the G+ Turkish Food Community.:)

  8. @ Alan: Ha ha. We’re already thinking of when to come back. This is our friend’s first year here teaching and she potentially has 5 years here. We wouldn’t be good friends if we didn’t come to see her again. 🙂 Interesting about the caterpillar colours and mineral content of the soil.

  9. I think we should all take Alan with us wherever we travel. (Failing that – his book)

  10. @ Back to Bodrum – Good point. 😉

  11. . . with my failing memory that’s an awful lot of reference books!!

  12. @ Alan: Well you’ll just have to use your fabulous internet connection to upload all your info and have it all online. 😉

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