By Yilmaz Kazandioglu
HAKKARI, Turkey (AA) - Cleared of terrorism, the picturesque mountains and highlands of Hakkari, in Turkey's southeast, are enjoying a surge in tourism to the peaceful, Instagram-ready region.
Bordering Iran and Iraq, in days past Hakkari was one of the areas hardest hit by terrorist group PKK.
But now, areas untouched by visitors for years are welcoming visitors from various regions of Turkey.
A group of 13 tourists -- including doctors, engineers, and retired teachers -- visiting from Izmir, in Turkey’s Aegean, told Anadolu Agency that they were impressed by the geography of Hakkari when they came for a cultural tour.
The tourists trekked through the area of Mt. Cilo -- the country’s second-highest mountain, reaching an altitude of 4,136 meters -- and the grassy highlands, where they met up with local people.
"We feel like we’re out in the Swiss Alps," said Resmiye Dinlenmez, who headed the tour group.
“It’s an incredibly rich region for alternative tourism.”
The highlands made the visitors "feel at peace," she added.
Sukran Laleoglu said the area has an "incredibly rich geography," adding: "I believe Hakkari will find the place it deserves in tourism, even if belatedly. Anyone can come here safely."
Ibrahim Fidanoglu, also among the visitors, said he was impressed by both the nature of the region and people's warm hospitality.
"We saw a peaceful, serene environment here. We want this to continue."
Over the last three decades, the terrorist PKK has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, but in recent months Turkish officials have said its numbers are dwindling, with the group seemingly on its last legs.
* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev