By Muhittin Sandikci
RIZE, Turkiye (AA) – Known as “Turkish Viking” or “Viking from Kackar,” Muco Turkyilmaz swims in a frozen lake, breaks ice with his axe and protects ducks from wolves in the mountains of Black Sea region.
Turkyilmaz, 49, who has been living in the Cat Valley of the northern Rize province for years, started to work as a tour guide after the region became a tourist attraction in his early years.
He spends the whole year in Kackar Mountains National Park, and recently organizes camps for children in a facility established by his family.
Turkyilmaz stays in the facility despite heavy winter and shares his experiences on social media. In the videos, he is seen wading in a frozen lake with Viking clothes donned, without minding the cold.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Turkyilmaz said that he swims in the frozen lake for four times during winter and he thinks this makes him stronger against sickness in summer time.
“People think I get cold when I am in water. You should be in water. Water definitely does not make you feel cold if you know how to touch its heart. If you touch the heart of water, you will not feel cold,” he said.
“Let’s protect nature. We cannot tame nature, we must adapt to it,” he added.
Turkyilmaz said that he usually wades in the lake to protect the ducks from wolves around the mountains.
“When the lake is covered with thick ice, wolves sometimes come. They took one of the ducks last night. I always break the ice covering the lake so that the ducks can stay in the water. Wolves cannot wade in the water. On the ice, however, they can walk and grab (ducks),” he added.
Enjoying the water with a temperature of minus 8 degrees Celsius (17.6 Fahrenheit), Turkyilmaz said: "I like it. My feet are not cold in the ice."
He said that it was Turkish traveler and writer Mutlu Tonbekici who first called him “Viking from Kackar” and the nickname has stuck around.
“Nothing has changed in my life. When I was a kid, I used to go down to the water to save goats when they fell into the water. I have been in the water since childhood.”