Mount Ararat Trek Summit climbing tours
Amy Beam, Mount Ararat tour operator and reservations Mount Ararat Trek     
Dogubayazit, Agri, eastern Turkey   
Mountain Climbing ~ Film Expeditions ~ Cultural Tours ~ Searching for Noah's Ark
Home Mountain Treks Cultural Tours Map Contact Warnings! Stories

Warning Against Climbing Mount Ararat!
47 Reasons Not to Climb Mt. Ararat, Agri, Turkey

Revised September 1, 2013 by Mount Ararat Trek

specializing in Mount Ararat summits in eastern Turkey
The list has now grown so long, that I am working on my book Climbing Mount Ararat: Love and Betrayal in Kurdistan. There are many intriguing characters, plots and subplots. The exposure of the discovery of Noah's Ark fraud has got people on four continents now investigating Noah's Ark Ministries International (NAMI) and their media arm, MEDIA Evangelism Limited (ME) in Hong Kong. We are not involved with them except to expose the fraud. We run an honest tourism business and hope you will choose us for your Ararat summit trip.

Disclosure and Disclaimer

  • Liars - There is a difference between a mountaineering guide and a tour organizer (ground handler). The mountaineer guide actually takes people to the summit of Mt. Ararat. The tour organizer hires the guide, cook, horses, tranportation, and also buys the food and does the reservations, gets your government climbing permit, meets you at the airport, issues your tent and crampons, reserves hotels, and plans cultural tours. The tour organizer is not a mountaineering guide! Many website owners advertising trips to summit Mt. Ararat claim to be mountaineer guides. They are not; they are tour organizers, the same as Amy Beam, owner of Mount Ararat Trek. While I, Amy Beam, am very sure I am not a guide, many tour organizers falsely claim to be guides, but they also have to hire guides. On many websites it is impossible to find a name or address of the owner, tour organizer, or guide. Know who you are working with!

  • The Cut Rate Tour - A few people by the bus station claim to be mountain guides. On June 15, 2011, one white-haired Turkish man calling himself Opdu offered a Czech man a price of $300 euro to go to the summit which is simply not possible to do properly for that price or without a very large group to share the cost. The Turkish man had never been to the summit of Mt. Ararat! He led the Czech climber all the way to camp #2 at 3800 meters in one day, arriving exhausted and cold at sunset. The Czech man was properly clothed, but the Turkish "guide" had no tent, only a thin sleeping bag, no proper boots (wet and cold feet), no hat, no gloves, no headlamp, no walking sticks, no ice ax, and no crampons. They arrived with biscuits, but no water. Fortunately, my guide was at camp 2 with my group and was able to take the Czech man to the summit and rescue the Turkish "guide" from freezing to death by sharing his tent. It is common practice for liars in Dogubayazit, Turkey, to say they are mountaineering guides, take money from unsuspecting tourists, get them on the mountain, then bring them down without making the summit.

    One travel agent from Poland contacted me with her misadventure in 2010 with a "guide" she found on the web. When we heard her tale, we and the Governor's office offered her a free trip. She wrote, "I had this strange experience with the guide who didn’t know the way!!!! He was walking follow me, screaming that he is afraid, because 'it is very dangers here'. We had camp II, too low and on the summit day we get out from the tent too late. I tried tell him about this night before, but he didn’t know the English, so he didn’t understand me. On the way up, few times he tried to convince me, that we are already on the summit, but it was not true! Finally, 200-300 m from the summit (it was foggy, so I don’t know exactly where I was; I asked him several times where is the summit, but he didn’t know) he run down and left me alone up there in snowy storm (probably he was really afraid!). When I get to the tents in camp II, he already start to pack up, although we had agreement for 4 days/3 nights , and we have been only 3 days/2nights – so we didn’t even try to go up again next day. I am the woman nearly 50 years old, I climb for more than 30 years now, and I was climbing in a lot of mountains, in all over the world but I newer ewer had such situation! Also, I would like to thank you, that you are interested in my case, because I think, activities of such Agencies like xxxxxx, is really danger for the tourist and climbers going on Mt Ararat."

    There is a common Kurdish saying, "Not everything in life is about money," and that goes for choosing what company you will use for taking your Ararat trip.

  • Imposters and Cheats – The following people claim or have claimed to be owners or partners of Mount Ararat Trek: Hakan Basboga (alias Hakan Ararat) and Mehmet Ceven of Poland (not Uncle Mehmet Ceven). None of them work with or for or have any ownership in Mount Ararat Trek. I had the misfortune of at one time doing business with each of them. Hakan Basboga is a con artist and is saying some very unpleasant untruths about me in blogs (including adding a dozen years to my age...LOL), so I am forced to defend myself, however embarrassing. In 2007 I registered the domain name, chose the name Mount Ararat Trek, and made the website. I own it. Hakan was the mountaineer guide. I managed his email. In 2008, Hakan said his mother was in the hospital and would die without open heart surgery. I contributed. I later learned this was a lie. In 2008 Hakan's business did very well and after the court threatened him with a huge fine, he bought a business license with two partners. I made a loan of US $4500 to Hakan for the business license. When my loan to Hakan came due in 2010, Hakan would not repay it. He owed his partner money, also, so their partnership broke up and back taxes are now owed. I removed Hakan Basboga's name as mountain guide from in February 2010. Hakan Basboga, with financial help from Felicia Nettie of Mowhawk, New York, hired people to blatently copy the pages of Mount Ararat Trek's website word for word. This is clear copyright infringement.

    My next business partner then invited me to be business partners, and so we did a good business together in 2010, sending people to the summit. I did reservations from my home in Barbados. In October 2010, I learned that he had owed the horsemen, guides, and grocery store $18,000 US. He has since paid this debt. That is why now I, Amy Beam - Mount Ararat Trek, collect 100% of your tour payment in advance, to control the money and make sure everyone is paid. In November 2010, Mehmet Ceven, another former partner of Hakan Basboga, asked me to be his business partner. The partnership never got off the ground for 2011, before I learned that Mehmet is involved with the Noah's Ark fraud which you can read about below. I now work in partnership with Solymos Turizm, a licensed Turkish TURSAB travel agency, with over 20 years' experience doing business in tourism. Together we work with local Mount Ararat guides who have been to the summit many times. Think of me as your advocate and protector.

  • Mountain Mafia – Most of the horses, porters and guides come from one extended family who controls Mt. Ararat. They and their ancestors are nomads and were born on Ararat. In order to make sure everyone gets a piece of the action, the senior head of the family, assigns the jobs, giving each boy and man a chance to work by rotating assignments. He is like an employment agency. We go to him to order our horses, porters, and guides. We pay him the money and he pays the support staff. It's a family system of economic survival. Anyone who tries to by-pass or interfer with this system will be run off the mountain. Really, this is a family clan system that works pretty well to ensure every family has food on the table in a country with few social services. The senior leader with whom we work does not speak a word of English, so, as a tourist, you cannot go directly to him to order up your horses and guide. The organization of every Mount Ararat trek follows complex rules and relationships that are unlike those in Europe and North America. The success of Mount Ararat Trek is based on a partnership between an internet and marketing specialist who understands customer expectations and a local partner who is widely respected and can organize the trips. Some customers write and tell us they are macho mountain men and do not need a guide or porter. It is sometimes hard to convince them that their personal skills and experience have nothing to do with whether they will be allowed to climb Mount Ararat by themselves. If you try to sneak and do this, you are inviting trouble.

  • Mobile Phones – The good news is that because of good satellite reception, you can get mobile phone reception on the summit of Mt. Ararat. Mount Ararat Trek asks for your mobile phone numbers in advance so we can communicate with you while traveling in Turkey and while on Mt. Ararat. We are your lifeline in case of emergency. Please key in our mobile phone numbers before you leave home. Please pay for your phone to roam. Once we had a group at 4200 mtrs. in bad weather who needed assistance. They complained we did not care about them because they were not hearing from us. In reality, we tried all nine numbers provided to use, but not one was working. Because they had used the guide’s phone until his battery went dead, it was hard for us to communicate with them. In spite of this, we were able to contact another guide in the same camp who shared his phone with our group. When we have groups on the mountain, I sleep with my mobile phone next to my pillow. I and my partner are your lifeline for help, but please be responsible, take the risk factor seriously, and travel with your mobile phone working for roaming. If you send us an SMS, remember to sign your name so we know who it’s from!

  • No Electricity – The bad news is that there is no electricity on the mountain to charge your phone. You will have to keep it shut off to preserve battery life and open it only periodically to send or receive SMS messages. Let us know if anyone makes a solar-powered mobile phone.

  • Extreme Weather – You will climb from summer to winter temperatures. The snow conditions and temperature on Agri Dagi or Mount Ararat can be very hot (32C) to very cold (-20C). It can rain, hail, snow. You can suffer frost bitten toes and fingers. The wind can blow you down and blow your tent away. You can suffer a lightening storm. The sun can cause heat exhaustion. After mid-September the weather can turn to winter conditions, snowing even lower on the mountain. Dress in layers like a refugee; bring change of socks in case they get wet; wear weather-proof clothing.

  • Heat Exhaustion – Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion often begin suddenly, sometimes after excessive exercise, heavy perspiration, and inadequate fluid or salt intake. Signs and symptoms resemble those of shock and may include: feeling faint or dizzy, nausea, heavy sweating, rapid weak heartbeat, low blood pressure, cool moist pale skin, low-grade fever, heat cramps, headache, fatigue, dark-colored urine. Read the Mayo Clinic's advice on how to treat heat exhaustion

  • Heat Stroke – Heat exhaustion can turn into heatstroke which can be FATAL. For those of you whose first language is not English, FATAL means it can kill you. Heatstroke occurs when your body temperature reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher. Heatstroke can be brought on by high environmental temperatures, by strenuous physical activity or by other conditions that raise your body temperature. You'll need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure, or death. Douse yourself with cold water or put ice under your arm pits to break your fever. Seek medical attention immediately. Well, that’s the advice on the internet. If you are suffering from heat stroke, you won’t be finding ice anywhere handy. If ice is handy, you’ll be on the summit trembling from cold, not heat. Catch 22. Rest, get help, and pray if you’re a believer. Review your Will, ask for your spouse’s indulgence, and say “I love you” before you leave home. You are not going to Disney World.

  • Altitude Sickness – Some people get altitude sickness. This can happen to you even if you are physically fit and have climbed other, higher mountains with no problems. Altitude sickness is common. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, aching, dizziness (vertigo). Do not think statistics won’t apply to you, too. If you feel ill, you must let the guide and your team members know before it becomes a crisis. Do not jeopardize your health or your life or the success of the entire team. One of the most difficult choices you may have to make is to have the courage to abandon your quest for the summit so as not to ruin the chances for the entire group. Don’t leave camp if you feel bad. If someone gets ill, he or she must be taken down to the camp or back to town. You may need to breathe oxygen and have your aching muscles massaged. You should really read more about altitude sickness now (later is usually too late).

  • Aborting the Climb – If you are ill, it is not safe to descend alone because you may collapse. If there is only one guide, this may mean the entire group descends. When a summit is aborted, it typically leaves people frustrated and angry. They want to take it out on someone. This is how it works on the mountain. The environment is hostile. That’s why you are here, for the challenge of overcoming adversity. It’s not like being back in the hotel. Get over it. No one gets sick on purpose, now do they? One of the risks you take in high-altitude climbing is that someone else will get ill causing YOU to not make the summit. Every group Mount Ararat Trek takes up is a team, and you need to be a team member, not a cowboy. If you want your own personal guide, devoted just to you, ask us for a price quotation and we can arrange it. It will more than double your tour price. You get what you pay for, Charlie, so don’t complain that it’s not fair. Life’s not fair. Note from Michael Traynor’s FaceBook photos 2010: “nearing the summit of Mont Blanc (15,782 feet) in Europe at about 8am there was one Japanese climber along the side of the trail unconscious…his team left him there so we took care of him.”

  • No Doctor – Our guides are not doctors, but our Turkish partner (on-the ground operator) is a doctor and also an alpine mountaineering expert. When we pay for your government climbing permit, one of the things it covers is emergency evacuation if necessary. In serious situations such as a broken bone or heart attack, this can include helicopter evacuation, but that is more rare than an albino cardinal. In 2008 the government did airlift a climber who broke his ankle. In May 2011, 3 climbers from another agency were missing near the summit so the jandarma called us to search for them. We found them and had them in the hospital by nightfall. On August 20, 2011, an Armenian climber with another company slid down the ice and cracked his skull open on a rock. Our climbers who witnessed the accident called me for help. We failed to convince the government to send a helicopter, so we sent a rescue team of 8 people who bundled him up and carried him off the mountain. It took seven hours from 4200 metres. The ambulance was waiting. He survived after a stay in the hospital. The guide ran away to avoid jail. We suggest you carry aspirin or something stronger for headache and heart attack, Ibuprofin for aches and swelling, nose spray, something for nausea and diarrhea, and bandaids or bandages for cuts, blisters or a sprained ankle. Some people even carry their own oxygen tank in case they experience altitude sickness. One woman was so safety-conscious, she carried THREE oxygen tanks, thus contributing to her exhaustion. The porters and horses transport your backpack from camp to camp, but each person must carry his or her own day pack. This woman was too tired to carry her pack with three tanks. She had developed a severe headache, but kept it a secret because she so much wanted to get to the summit. We assigned another guide just to her, because she had fallen way behind her group. She made the summit, but felt so weak and sick while descending that the guide had to carry her pack.

  • Getting Lost – When the aforementioned woman with the three oxygen tanks argued with her guide that he was lost at 4500 meters (within sight of camp). He took her to camp 2 at 4200 meters, put her pack down, called us for a replacement guide and left her. We sent two others to get her. She needed oxygen and massaging. Our guides have occasionally been accused of being lost. This stretches our imagination since they are nomads that grew up on this mountain, but stress and altitude sickness may cause fuzzy thinking. You really ought not to pick a fight with the guide or accuse him of being lost, especially when he’s carrying your pack as a favor. Self-control and respect, especially for elders, is a core value in the Kurdish culture. Kurdish people take great offense at being verbally attacked or insulted, so try to BE NICE even when you are under stress and we will do the same.

  • Dangerous – High-altitude mountain climbing is dangerous. Mount Ararat Trek is not liable nor financially responsible if something bad happens to you, including injury, kidnapping, terrorist attack, diarrhea, twisted ankles, broken bones, food poisoning, being kicked by a horse or bitten by a flea, freezing to death in a blizzard, or any other bad thing you can think of. I have to add here that in August 2011, a gnat flew in my ear and refused to come out for 48 hours. Who would have thought a GNAT could ruin my trip? You are climbing Mount Ararat for the personal challenge. Why else would you do such a risky thing when you could take a Caribbean cruise instead? By going with us, you agree not to hold us liable if anything goes wrong, but if it does, we will move heaven and earth to save your ass. A four-wheel drive can get all the way to base camp at 3200 meters.

  • Diarrhea – Your stomach may not be used to the water; it can happen to you. We provide bottled water when starting out, but it is too much to have the horses carry enough for everyone for the entire trip. (If you want to hire an extra horse just to carry water, you can.) We use clean mountain run-off from the melting snow above 3200 meters. We boil water for tea/coffee. It's a good idea to put a package of tissue or toilet paper in your backpack. Even drinking tea from boiled water, you may experience diarrhea.

  • Budget Hotels – When looking on-line at hotel ratings, it is safest to remove one star from the rating. Hotels are typically the equivalent of a 2-star hotel, clean and adequate, but no frills. Budget hotels are not of the same quality as in Europe or North America. You pay more and get a lot less. After a year, I am revisiting this issue, because it is the one that often causes problems. Budget hotels are of a quality that you will not even find in Europe or North America: sometimes they are NO-STAR hotels. In the winter the hotels are empty, but in the summer there are not enough hotel rooms for all the tourists: Economics 101, supply and demand. Please book well in advance! We are not making profit on hotel rooms, they just cost more money than you expect for what you get. A budget hotel has a clean bed and bathroom. There is a bottom sheet, but probably not a top sheet, only a blanket or bedspread. The decor may not match, the room will be tiny, there may not be enough outlets to charge your electronic gadgets, hot water is always promised but sometimes it's cold, and the front desk speaks 10 words of English. However, we have personally stayed in all the budget hotels we use and they are acceptable. Afterall, you will be in a tent on Ararat in a day or two, going behind a rock. If you want a nicer hotel, 3- or 4-star, we offer that, too. Just let us know. In Dogubayazit, we use the nicest hotel in town. It was renovated in 2011.

  • No Toilets – Squatters, otherwise known as holes in the ground, are common in eastern Turkey. They are in fully tiled rooms and pretty clean because you pour a bucket of water on the floor tiles when finished. Some hotels supply plastic slippers. There is a faucet and plastic pail next to the squatter. Carry a packet of tissue in your pocket, because many toilets do not have toilet paper. This is because the customers steal the toilet paper, not because the management does not attempt to keep toilet paper in the toilet. Most bathrooms are fully tiled and the shower head on a length of hose is next to the squatter; pretty handy when you get diarrhea. Start practicing your squats to strengthen your leg muscles; good for preparing for Ararat, also. This page has photos of squatters, but this page is more fun to read. More information than you wanted?

  • No Bathroom – One year the guides erected a wooden structure to serve as a privacy shield for an outhouse. It wasn’t very nice to use. Trekkers preferred to choose their own rock to go behind. You cannot climb more than 5 minutes along the trail before finding a rock at least 4 feet high. That's why Mount Ararat is lovingly called "the rock pile." The rocks are big enough to offer privacy, even for a woman. One man returned from the summit and pounced on me because there are no bathrooms. He expected at least a hole in the ground. This mountain is SOLID ROCK. Not even a weed grows on it. He informed me that going behind a rock was the most humiliating experience he had ever had in his entire life. I thought to myself that he was very lucky to have had such a good life. His girlfriend (or maybe his daughter?) arrived with a hard-sided suitcase on wheels for the horse to carry. Not everyone is cut out for mountain climbing. There was a government plan to build two buildings with 25 beds, toilets, and showers at both the lower and upper camp, in 2010, but when excavation was started, someone burned the backhoe and car, so work was halted. See the "PKK" and "Kurdish problem" below. If you’re still with me, keep reading, it gets better.

  • Overcrowded – July and August are the peak months for climbing Ararat. The mountain is over-crowded. There may be over 100 climbers a day headed for the summit. The two camps are at 3200 and 4200 meters.

  • No Yogurt or Ice Cream – Since there is no electricity, there is no refrigeration on the mountain, so don’t expect yogurt or ice cream for desert. All the food has to be transported by pack animals. We are always amazed that some people demand yogurt each morning for breakfast. Get a grip on it. Remember where you are. Breakfast will consist of coffee, tea, sugar, powdered milk, juice, watermelon, cucumbers, bread, cheese, olives, hard-boiled eggs, and salami. For snacks we give you water, cakes, mixed nuts and raisins, candies, candy bar, an apple, dried apricots and stuff like that. Lunch is cheese, cucumber, salami, tomato, and bread. At dinner we serve you a hot meal that includes soup, pasta, meat. (Please read about the sly fox under the No Food warning.) Because our operation is big enough, in July and August we keep a permanent kitchen tent and chef on the mountain for meals at each camp and send up food regularly.

  • No FoodMount Ararat Trek took a group of 20 Russian CEOs to the summit. Being CEOS who only give directives, but never take them, they were as uncontrollable as scattering ants. Sixteen made it which surprised us, because many were out-of-shape. Actually, they made it because many hired horses from the porters and RODE which then made all the other porters demand more money. (See “The Guilt Trip”.) We are thinking of adding a CEO Special Horseback Trek. Because we wanted to impress so many CEOs, we bought twice as much food as normal. They amazed us and ate it all, leaving no food for their last dinner after descending to base camp from the summit. Fortunately, we were able to purchase a sheep from a villager and prepare a delicious lamb stew. Generously, one of the Russians paid $150 USD for it. With another group, we had sent fresh meat up the night before for dinner after reaching the summit. When the group returned to base camp, they discovered from the cook that a fox had stolen the meat. We doubted the sly fox story, but had to settle for a vegetarian meal. We did try to buy more meat in town that morning, but due to Kurdish protests (see “The Kurdish Problem”), all the shops in Doggy Biscuits were closed in support of the protests. Frankly, when you come down from the summit, you will be exhausted and interested only in sleeping. If you want a holiday for the food, please go to France.

  • No AlcoholMount Ararat Trek does not provide alcoholic drinks in the price of your tour. You can bring your own, but we don’t recommend it. . . . bad for you at high altitudes. If you want us to provide a bottle of Vodka to celebrate your summit, let us know in advance and we will be happy to sell it to you. Some of our trekkers left their six pack of beer to cool in the river and were surprised to find it was stolen upon their return to camp. (See “Petty Thieves” below.) At the nomad tents you may be offered a beer. Beware! It costs 10 Turkish lire. In town a beer costs 5 Turkish lire. Remember, everything on the mountain must be carried up on horses.

  • Petty Thieves – Yes, there are petty thieves in every corner of the world, including in Kurdish mountain villages. Did you think you left the thieves behind in London, New York, Prague, and Moscow? Generally speaking, poor people think anyone who can afford to visit their destination as a tourist has more money than they do. WE know how hard you work for this holiday, but let’s face it, you probably DO earn more than sheep herders and the teenage boys who load the horses and lead them up the mountain trail. Try not to put temptation in the path of someone who has less than you do. If it’s of great value, leave it locked in Dogubeyazit in your hotel or carry it in your day pack. This includes small items such as gloves, sunglasses, headlamps, water bottles, passport, and iPads. Mount Ararat Trek does its best to maintain security at our camp at 3200 meters, but we are not responsible for anything that disappears. Because you may experience swelling of hands and feet, you may want to consider leaving your rings at home.

  • Rocky – At the higher camp at 4200 meters there are probably enough rocks to build a Great Wall to Iran. The entire camp site is on a hill with rocks and boulders. There are small bare spots for tents. It’s crowded and hard to find a spot without rocks. It’s not the Four Seasons Hotel in Istanbul, but along with a free tent, we do provide a mat for under your sleeping bag. You’ll be sleeping in your clothes because it is very cold at night, even in the heat of August. You want a physically challenging adventure, right? You’ve got it at camp site #2.

  • Garbage – We are glad to report that mountain climbers have become environmentally responsible and rarely would think of discarding even a gum wrapper on the ground. Not so with the local guides and nomads on the mountain. In early 2010, the Turkish government did a major clean-up of Mount Ararat and removed four truck loads of garbage. Please do not litter. What goes up with you, must come down.

  • Bird Flu – In 2006, at least four people died from bird flu in and around Dogubeyazit. The government collected and killed all the chickens in the province. Every tour to Mt. Ararat was cancelled that season. Only a French TV station showed up to film chickens. Statistically speaking, I think Dogubeyazit has paid its dues and is out of danger from a repeat event.

  • Hypothermia – September 6, 2006, two Italian climbers froze to death in a blizzard on Mount Ararat when descending from the summit. They were part of an 11-member team climbing Mount Ararat without Turkish government permission. October 20, 2010, Donald MacKenzie, a solo evangelical explorer from Scotland, disappeared while climbing off the trail without a licensed Ararat mountaineer guide. This is why you need a local mountaineer guide who knows the trail. Mount Ararat Trek takes your safety seriously; you should, too.

  • No Airport – Dogubeyazit is a 3-hour drive from Van airport, a 2.5 hour drive from Kars airport (over terrible road), and 1.5 hour drive from Agri airport. Individuals may take a mini-van from the Kars airport to Igdir, then transfer to a bus for Dogubeyazit. From Van airport, you must take a 15-minute taxi ride to the midi-bus station in Van, then get a bus to Dogubeyazit. Buses have limited schedules on national holidays. A taxi costs about 120 euro each way. Mount Ararat Trek can meet groups in a minibus at any airport. If you arrive in the morning in Van you can get a boat tour to Akdamar Island, or if you arrive in the morning to Kars you can get a tour of the Ani ruins before driving to Dogubayazit.

  • Climbing Permits – The government of Turkey requires climbing permits. The cost is $50 US and is included in your tour price. Mount Ararat Trek gets the climbing permit for you. If you don’t have a climbing permit and need to call for medical help, you can forget it. In 2010, about 500 people climbed Mt. Ararat with legal permits, while 3000 went illegally without permits. This is how some guides can offer you a cheaper price. Local companies with a legal company license can get them from the Agri government office instead of through Ankara.

  • The Kurdish “Problem” – Google PKK. You will not find much favorable press for the PKK because it has been labeled a terrorist organization. The European Union is delaying membership by Turkey until it improves conditions and civil liberties for its Kurdish population. There’s been peace in eastern Turkey for a few years, but periodic shootings do occur and in 2011 over 100 Kurds were killed during demonstrations against their government. Word of mouth reported that 13 Kurdish civilians were killed by poison gas while the international media reported some "terrorists" were killed. It is hard to discern the truth. After WWI, the 75 million Kurds residing in the areas that are now eastern Turkey, northern Iran, Iraq and Syria were promised a country called Kurdistan. It was never created, and ever since then Kurds in eastern Turkey have been agitating for an independent Kurdistan. So Mount Ararat is under military control. Here's a little history of the PKK. If you are in Turkey, you probably will not be able to get this website, because the government of Turkey filters websites. The Turkish people who live in eastern Turkey, including Dogubayazit, are Kurdish by ethnicity and speak both Kurdish and Turkish. Turkish is the official language of business and schools. When I visited the Kackar Mountains in the middle part of Turkey (which is not Kurdish), the smallest village schools had a dedicated computer science teacher, a computer in each classroom and a computer lab. In eastern Turkey, the village school I visited did not have indoor toilets or a desk for the teacher in the one-room school house. This and the appearance of other discrepancies in services leave Kurds feeling angry, resentful, and left out by their government.

  • Kidnapping – July 8, 2008, three German climbers were kidnapped from Mount Ararat base camp by the PKK in retaliation for the German government shutting down the Kurdish ROJ TV station broadcast from Germany and beamed into Turkey. (They were not climbing with Mount Ararat Trek.) I liked that station because it played such nice Kurdish music and showed the beautiful scenery of Turkey. But it also romanticized being a Kurdish rebel living in the mountains, with young men and women practicing shooting rifles by day and gathered around campfires by night. The German government maintained the TV station promoted an outlawed terrorist group (PKK). In response to the kidnapping, the local Agri government closed Mount Ararat for several weeks, destroying the economy of eastern Turkey for the entire year. The German government issued a travel advisory against traveling to eastern Turkey. The kidnapped Germans were released unharmed after two weeks. Many local people suffered and went hungry that winter. The TV station ROJ has relocated from Germany to Denmark and reports news of and about Kurds in Turkey to balance the news reporting by the international media.

  • Armenian Genocide – The first genocide of the twentieth century is said to have happened in 1915-1918, when nearly one million Armenian Christians living in the Ottoman Empire (before Turkey became Turkey) were allegedly rounded up and killed. Because of Article 301, discussed below, I have to explain to you this is only alleged history. I was not personally there. Allegedly many were allegedly marched into the Syrian dessert and left to starve to death. The Turkish government adamantly denies there was an Armenian genocide. Read the detailed timeline from 1914 through 1920 and later. Turkey's official denial of the Armenian genocide is one of the issues preventing Turkey from being accepted into the E.U. If you are in Turkey, this site is blocked. US Embassy cable 09ANKARA1472 from the US Embassy in Ankara to the US State Department, dated 2009-10-13, leaked by WikiLeaks, states “Turkey consistently warns that any U.S. determination of the events of 1915 as ‘genocide’ would set off a political firestorm in Turkey, and the devastating effect on our bilateral relationship -- including political, military, and commercial aspects would be unavoidable.” So the official US position is that it's none of their business, but this comes from a country that also maintains waterboarding is not torture.

  • No Armenians – If you have an Armenian name or passport or Armenian connections, the government will deny your climbing permit. Turkey has had its border with Armenia closed for decades and does not officially allow Armenians on Mount Ararat, although Armenians are free to enter the country through other borders, such as Georgia. It is a five-hour drive from the (Posof) Georgia border crossing to Dogubayazit. We can pick people up at the border. Ararat rises from a flat plain and dominates the skyline of Armenia's capital, Yerevan. Since ancient times, Ararat has been revered by the Armenians as their spiritual home. It used to be part of Armenia. Today, it is the national symbol of Armenia. Look at a live webcam view of Mt. Ararat (Agri Dagi) from Yerevan.

  • No Freedom of Speech – Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code makes it illegal to “insult Turkishness”. This apparently includes uttering the words Kurdistan or Armenian Genocide, neither of which are recognized according to official Turkish government doctrine. If you want to make a political statement, we prefer you do it at the UN or EU instead of the summit of Mount Ararat. The Kurdish language used to be illegal to speak, write, or read until 2002. In 1991, a 30-year-old woman was sworn in as a parliamentarian in Turkey’s national assembly. After reciting the oath of allegiance, she added a sentence in Kurdish. As a result, she was removed from the building, stripped of her parliamentary immunity and sentenced to 15 years in prison. She served ten years and is once again re-elected to Parliament. Her name is Leyla Zana.

  • No License – Up until July 2011, the government of Turkey required, in theory, a licensed Turkish climbing guide from the Turkish Mountain Federation. In practice, it could not and did not enforce this because there were only ten licensed climbing guides for Mount Ararat and only two who spoke English. They do not live in Dogubayazit. Most of those licensed guides are over 55 and retired. The Turkish Mountain Federation gave them their licenses for mountaineer guides after 8 separate weeks of training over one year. Because many local people on the street misrepresent themselves as businessmen and trained, licensed alpine guides for Mt. Ararat, the government of Agri, Turkey, took over the training and licensing of guides. After three weeks of intensive classroom training, to be followed by mountain training, the government issued climbing licenses to 27 guides in July 2011. No one else has permission to guide without a license. The Agri government told the Turkish Mountain Federation it no longer has authority to license guides. I heard this new policy was being challenged in court, but I am not sure. Mount Ararat, known in Turkey as Agri Dagi, was established in July 2011 as Agri Dagi National Park, under military control.

  • No English – Half of the local guides on Mount Ararat do not speak English. It's just that simple. Mount Ararat Trek provides local guides who grew up on Mount Ararat and know the mountain. Many of them speak English, but some do not. If you ask a question and they do not understand it, they will always answer "yes," leading to misunderstandings and even fights. If the guide does not speak English, you or he can call my Kurdish business partner to translate for you. When possible, we will provide a guide who speaks a little of your native language, but don't hold your breath. Even many travel agents have great difficulty communicating in English and, thus, making planning very difficult. Communicating with us in English is easy. We will phone you at our expense if you want. We have an orientation meeting with you, in English, the night before the trek.

  • No Noah’s Ark – Over the decades, there have been several claims that Noah’s Ark has been discovered on Mount Ararat. Ron Wyatt discovered a boat-shaped mound in 1977 which the Turkish government established as Noah’s Ark National Park. See Wyatt Musem. A visit to this site is included in Mount Ararat Trek’s cultural tour. Most people think it is an interesting rock formation. It's an enjoyable outing. In 1985, George Jamal perpetrated a Noah’s Ark hoax on major media out of scorn to show how they ran unverified stories as genuine news. It’s good reading. In 2010, a Kurdish guide nick-named Parasut, with a Chinese group, Noah’s Ark Ministries International (NAMI), announced they had discovered some wood in an ice cave that they were 99.9% sure was Noah’s Ark. After being challenged as a hoax by Dr. Randall Price, Ph.D. and Don Patton, Ph.D., they revised it to 90%. Discovering Noah’s Ark would be very good for tourism. We cannot take you to see “Noah’s Ark wood in an ice cave,” nor can anyone else take you there, because its alleged location is being kept secret. Even my former business partner, Mehmet Ceven, the leader of the Parasut team that "discovered" the wood, refused to give me details. He did confess to me he does not believe they found Noah's Ark, which is why our partnership did not survive. Actually, they announced the discovery of the wood four years in a row (check their web site) until they finally organized a big press conference in April 2010 in Hong Kong that got covered by major media. No one is going to take you to any ice cave with wood from Noah's Ark. Donald MacKenzie, a Scottish evangelical explorer searching for Noah's Ark by himself is missing. He was last seen on October 19, 2010, at his campsite. It was rumored two weeks before his disappearance that a missionary was passing out Bibles. . .not a smart thing to do in a Muslim part of the world. The 2010 search for Donald MacKenzie failed to find him, nor has his body been found after the snow melted the next summer.

  • The Customer from Hell - Yes, that's right: the customer from hell! If you are in business long enough, it will happen to you, too. I had the misfortune of having Joel David Klenck as my customer, September 13-17, 2011. Klenck disappeared from camp 2 for 4 or 5 hours and was missing in the dark. We feared he had fallen into the canyon and was injured or dead. We sent a search team, and the other climbers at camp 2 risked their lives looking for him. He had gone in search of Parasut's so-called Noah's Ark excavation site. When we found him, the Turkish Jandarma (military police) ordered my partners to bring him to them. We did, but not before interviewing him on camera. He stated he did not know Parasut (the Turkish guide involved in the Noah's Ark fraud), had never been to eastern Turkey before, and thought the Noah's Ark discovery was a hoax. Several weeks later Klenck began posting his fictitous "press release" stating he was the expert archeologist who had confirmed discovery of Noah's Ark. He appears in the "Days of Noah - Apocalypse II" movie, released by Noah's Ark Ministries Internationl (NAMI) in August 2011, as the expert who verifies the fraudulent discovery of the Ark. He posts his own stories written in glowing terms in third person. Since I have exposed his fraud, he has taken to creating fictitious profiles online and posting libelous and malicious blogs and comments about me, Amy Beam. To show the type of person this Klenck character is, he posted his press release on one website that is virulently anti-Muslim. I suspect he created this blog site himself, two days before he posted his own "press release" on it. He posted a photo of a big, black cow pissing on a pile of garbage, and put my name on it. Nice work, Joel. He also announced that he had found chick peas in the Noah's Ark site. Imagine, 4500 years and the mice didn't eat them! His worst lie about us is that when you lock your belongings up at Murat Camping, we steal money from your backpack. He also wrote that it costs only $250 dollars to climb Mount Ararat. Even the "cut rate tour" (see above) costs at least 400 euro without a permit, horse, tent, or hotel room. The Turkish government has banned Klenck from returning to Turkey.

  • No Insurance – If you are concerned about your luggage not showing up, having a heart attack, missing your plane connection, or having your trip cancelled due to war, suicide bombers, bird flue, or kidnappings, we recommend you buy travel insurance. You might also look into medical travel insurance, as well. We do not provide insurance. In theory, your government climbing permit covers emergency medical evacuation off Mount Ararat to a local hospital. In actuality, the Jandarma often call us to do the evacuation. Do not expect a helicopter to show up. It just won't happen because the PKK might shoot it down. If you need to be brought off the mountain, we will do it come hell or high water. In 2011 when we arranged for 8 people to carry an injured climber (not our customer) down from camp 2 and then take him to Van hospital, his expenses were $1000 USD which was not bad for saving his life.

  • No Fun – Although Turkey is a secular country, over 90% of the population is Muslim. That is mostly because, according to Muslim “law”, the punishment for changing one’s religion is death. You get your religion handed to you at birth, just like your nationality. In eastern Turkey it is frowned upon to dance with the opposite sex, sing, wear makeup, expose your arms or legs (not to mention your bosom), and have sex outside of marriage. If you are a woman, you do not need to wear a scarf. If you ask someone if they “had fun”, you are asking if they had sex. According to the government of Turkey, fornication or homosexuality outside of marriage is not illegal, but according to the Muslim culture, it is not permitted. You won’t be permitted to take a local up to your bedroom. (Hotels are required to turn their guest list into the local police every night.)

  • No Sex – In the Muslim culture a woman’s FLOWER is the most important thing to her, representing the family honor. All the men in her extended family make it their business to protect her flower whether she likes it or not. It’s not really hers, it’s theirs. If she is deflowered (or raped), she risks being killed by her own family, or she might be locked in a room until she commits suicide. Read details. It still happens in villages in eastern Turkey on a monthly basis (and western countries, too). One goes under the ground; one goes to prison (or not). Three of our Russian climbers asked us to procure women for them to celebrate their summit. This was really in bad taste and offensive to our tour operator. Ditto for their request to procure hash for them. So if you want to have fun on your holiday, try Amsterdam or Bangkok.

  • No Single Men – Since the Kurdish culture restricts having fun to married men, you'll find no single mountaineer guides under age 25. The guides are devastatingly handsome and enough to make a woman swoon with their strong, lean muscles and thick, jet black hair. They are gentle, caring, and concerned for all our customers, both male and female. When they sing Kurdish ballads and offer to massage a woman's sore legs under a star lit sky, they can melt your defenses. Some guides deceitfully claim to be single. One female climber told me how sorry she felt for her guide who told her he was lonely, living all summer on the mountain. He professed to be single at age 42 because he was so poor and ugly that no woman would marry him. My customer expressed a great deal of sympathy for his dilemma. She willingly agreed to share his tent to spare him the effort of putting up an extra tent for her. When I gently informed her that this guide was married with five children and had a very nice house in town to which he returned after every trip, it looked like a horse had kicked her in the stomach. She protested that it could not be true! "It worked, didn't it?" I asked. She could not raise her head to look me in the eye. We do not hire that guide anymore. After being in the tourism business for some years, I must regrettably admit that it is not only men who go on holiday looking to have a little fun. You can have all the fun you want (we are not the morality police), but, Ladies, you've been warned.

  • Lost Luggage – On international flights, and especially intercontinental ones, your airlines might not transfer your luggage in Istanbul to Van. On one tour in 2010 the batting average was two for two: two Americans on two different British Airways flights on two different days arrived in Van with no luggage. One man went shopping on his own in Van and bought boots more appropriate to a fireman. That was an example of a Hobson’s Choice: this or nothing. He found he could not hike in them and had to descend after reaching base camp. The other man proceeded to Dogubeyazit where one of our team took him around to rent, borrow, and buy the necessary gear. He was able to reach the summit and was grateful for our assistance in responding to his lost luggage dilemma. In 2011, about once every ten days, we had climbers whose luggage did not arrive for 1-2 days. I’m thinking maybe you should WEAR your boots and down jacket while traveling.

  • Jet Lag – While everyone is concerned about a day for altitude acclimatization, few people allow for recovery from jet lag. If you are traveling from half-way around the world (22 hours not uncommon), we recommend you add at least 1 or 2 extra days to recover from jet lag. Not only did the man in the firemen’s boots lose his luggage, he was weak and feverish on the mountain due to stress and exhaustion from traveling with no recovery time. If you are doing this sort of adventure travel which is dependent upon so many factors, you should build in extra days for flexibility. Start the trek well rested, please.

  • The Guilt Trip – We pay all our support team: cook, cook’s assistant, driver, porters and guides. Our climbing guides receive the going rate which is above average daily labor rates for eastern Turkey, but they need this income to survive through the winter months and feed their families. It’s a world-wide scam for workers in the tourism industry to play on visitors’ guilt and tell you they are poor and underpaid. That way you can get righteously indignant at us for cheating them and give them a big tip that is even bigger than their pay. Please believe us: we pay everyone fairly and frown upon slavery. We encourage you to tip according to your own satisfaction just as if you were tipping someone back home. Please do not think any of us or our support team work for slave wages. Wages in Turkey are not like wages in India, and neither should your tip be a stingy dollar or two (provided you are happy with the trek). On the other hand, when you are offered tea or "chi" you are not expected to pay for it. In a restaurant if you order it yourself, chi costs 1 Turkish lire.

  • No Guarantees – Not everyone who seeks succeeds. Feeling lousy, a twisted ankle, frostbite, bad weather, bad luck, or Hobson’s Choice may prevent you from reaching the summit. We do our best to get you there. We will extend your trek from three nights to four nights to get you there if the weather makes it necessary. We commit our heart and energy to getting you to the summit, but we do not guarantee you will make it. On average, 93% of climbers reach the summit. Of those who do not reach the summit, the cause for half is due to altitude sickness; the other half due to rain, hail, or blizzard. If you want to try again next year, we will offer you a discount.

  • No Refunds – We give refunds (minus any expenses already incurred) only if you cancel at least four weeks before your start date, or if the government closes the mountain. You can add people to your group and change dates without a penalty. If you want to sue us, we don’t have enough money to cover your legal fees. If we were rich, we would be in a different business, because mounting a high-altitude adventure takes a lot of effort. We run this business because we like helping people have this adventure. If we wanted to be rich, we could be smuggling people, gas, or alcohol across the border instead of risking our safety summitting Mount Ararat. If you descend early ahead of your group, you will be responsible for any extra guide, horse, and the transportation cost, and any additional nights in the hotel, and extra meals when not on the mountain. We do not issue vouchers. So if you are one of those litigious Americans, a whanker, or whiner, please check out our competition. We can recommend some of the less reputable ones.
So, if you are still game for the challenge, we look forward to taking you climbing on Mount Ararat which will surely be a lifetime experience for you! It is not for the weak or timid traveler. We are not a big, anonymous travel agency. We become friends with each climber, and we are always available to talk with you. We offer you honesty, integrity, training, experience,and competence.

2011, 2012, 2013 Copyright by
Amy L. Beam, Ed.D.
email us
skype: amyLbeam