Directly east of the city of Konya along the highway to Adana lays the small agricultural town of Karapınar. While the history of the area contained settlements from the Proto-Hittites onward and there are nearly forty city mounds in the area archeology and history tourism doesn’t seem to have caught on yet. The town itself has an old caravanserai (a combination of inn and shops for caravans) that has been well restored and is in regular use as shop space. As was customary the caravanserai is flanked by a mosque and Turkish Bath of similar age though the bath is not open, and the mosque is built in a standard Ottoman provincial style; rather plain and small though over 500 years old. That being said, the town is not the attraction for visitors, rather Karapınar is home to a number of very unique sites of natural beauty, namely mountains, sink-hole lakes, and volcanic lakes.
Meke Gölü is a lake formed by a volcanic eruption with the cone of a later volcano rising out of the middle of it. The black and red patchwork of lava rock rising in a strange cone seems other-worldly in contrast to the flat green plains that surround the lake. While years ago the lake completely surrounded the inner cone, leading to people refering to it as the ‘mavi boncuk’ (the evil eye bead) of nature, the water level has dropped drastically connecting the inner cone to the shore. While this is a shame in some regards it has also brought about another level of strangeness to the site. For whatever reason, the smaller ponds that are now left over are all different colours and would even seem to have different mineral make-up. When I last visited there were deep brown, pink, and white pools. Some stank while others didn’t. Some were so full of minerals that the waters edge was covered in crystals and any tuft of grass or stick that was in the water would become coated with crystals. Make sure to drive around the lake and view it from the edge of the crater and also go down to the waters edge and explore before climbing the martian landscape of the cone!
Despite being just a couple kilometres away from Meke Gölü, Acı Gölü looks completely different. Rather than lava rocks of red and white, the lake is ringed by strangely brittle cliffs of black and white zebra stripes set in a wide and low circular crater of tumbled boulders and green scrubland popular with grazing herds. From what we could see, people come here to swim though I have no idea if the strange mineral rich waters that leave behind black and white striped mineral cliffs are safe to enter. Personally we were totally satisfied to stay out of the water and just take in the amazing landscape that we found ourselves in!
Besides these two lakes there are a number of other sites that may be worth visiting though information is very limited. There appears to be a small patch of desert-like sand dunes as well as a number of other interesting sink-hole and crater lakes. Beyond this the local government has posted a list of ancient city-mounds with nearly forty entries! If you find any more information about these places or anything else you think we should see we’d love to hear from you!
How To Get There
Any bus traveling east-west between Adana and Konya will pass this town. However, if you plan on seeing any of the sights around the town you will need your own transport.
The most famous lakes of this area are just to the east of the town of Karapınar which sits along the Konya-Adana highway (D330), 97 kms from Konya, 151 kms from Niğde, and 247 kms from Adana. Heading east out of Karapınar along the Konya-Adana highway you will come across brown signs marked for Meke Gölü, Acı Gölü etc.
For more about car rental and driving in Turkey make sure to read our full drivers guide.
The best way by far to get to and see Karapınar is by rental car. Whether you fly to a nearby city and drive from there or drive all the way, once you’re in Karapınar a personal car will be the best way to see most if not all of what Karapınar has to offer.
Where To Stay
In Karapınar there are four hotels:
Koçaklar Oteli, Düntaş Otel, Sezer Oteli, and Dündarhan Oteli are all on or very near the main street in the center of town and their prices should be fairly reasonable though I haven’t personally stayed at any of these.
Just north from the town center is Gider Pansiyon. The owner and manager, Alaettin Gider, was great and extremely helpful, even offering to take us around to wherever we would want to visit. The building, food and washrooms were all standard for the 35TL per head per night cost. The beds, however, were probably the best I’ve had even from some of the pricier hotels. Turkish hotel beds tend to be rock hard even at seaside all-inclusives so the soft bed at Gider was a welcome surprise!
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Planning on visiting Karapınar? Make sure to check out what other sights are in the area!
Have any tips or info to add? Spot any mistakes? We’d love to hear about it.