The eastern Black Sea region of Turkey is growing ever more popular with tourists from Gulf Arab states, in search of cooler summer climes. They now arrive in great numbers from Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, descending on Trabzon and Rize for both relaxation and adventure.
As well as visiting historical landmarks and taking in the beautiful natural beauty of the region, these tourist are increasingly drawn to audacious activities such as white water rafting, zip wire, paragliding and mountaineering.
It is now not uncommon to see Muslim women, wearing black abaya and niqab, donning helmets and life jackets, before embarking on the rough waters of the region’s rivers in bright yellow rubber dinghies. In Rize, niqabi women paddle 5 km up the Firtina river with family and friends, negotiating dangerous boulders and rapids, returning to land soaked through. It is an adrenaline rush that causes them to return time and again.
None of them, it seems, can resist the lure of adventure — or the coolness of the boisterous waters, so far removed from the Gulf heat they have grown so used to.