|Destination:||Australia & The Pacific, Middle East, Turkey|
Experience the stunning sights and tantalising tastes of Turkey on this two-week adventure that takes in all the highlights and then some. Become acquainted with illustrious Istanbul, behold landscapes like no other around Cappadocia, and sail the all-too-pretty islands off Kekova. Marvel at the ancient ruins of Ephesus, settle in for a spectacular soaking in Pamukkales thermal hot springs, and reflect on the tragedies and gallantries that took place along Gallipolis windswept peninsula. Brimming with history, bustling with progress and bursting with flavour, Turkey intrigues and delights at every turn of this perfectly paced small group adventure.
Day 1 Istanbul
Welcome to Turkey. This adventures kicks off in Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have called home. . You have the whole day free to explore the capital until a Welcome Meeting at 6pm make sure you have all your important documents and details for your leader. Double check with the hotel reception or the noticeboard for meeting confirmations. Until then, maybe get out and explore the frenetic streets of Turkey’s crown-jewel metropolis. After the meeting, maybe gather together your new friends and seek out some Turkish cuisine in a street-side cafe.
Notes: If you can’t arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early, so you’re able to attend. We’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you’re going to be late, please contact the hotel reception. For Monday departures we recommend you visit the magnificent opulence of Topkapi Palace on Day 1 as it is closed on Tuesday.
Day 2 Beypazari
Kick start the day with a leisurely guided walk and discover some of Istanbuls hidden charms. Visit the 17th-century Blue Mosque and learn more about its one-of-a-kind architecture, with its six minarets and 20,000 dazzling handmade Iznik tiles. Next, head to the ancient Hippodrome, with its intriguing monuments, like the Obelisk of Theodosius, Snake Pillar and German Fountain of Wilhelm II. Later this morning, take a private minivan to the beautiful rural town of Beypazari. Located approximately 100 kilometres from Turkeys capital of Ankara, Beypazaris historic houses and welcoming community reflects the essence of the Turkish Culture. On arrival, enjoy free time at leisure to explore the streets of this quaint town.
Day 3 Goreme
Spend your morning visiting the Living Museum of Beypazari, which offers re-enactments and interactive experiences that allow you to gauge a deeper understanding into traditional Turkish folk culture. Afterwards, board a minibus and make your way to the town of Goreme in Cappadocia (approximately 4 hours). Goreme lies in a beautifully diverse landscape of cones, needles and columns, fashioned by nature from the soft volcanic tuff rock. Its unique, honeycombed terrain consists of a network of caves, scooped out to make churches and dwellings, known as fairy chimneys and castles. In times of peace, the people in this region lived on the land, but in times of war or persecution they took to living underground. With no activities planned for the rest of the day, youre free to explore this intriguing town at your own pace.
Day 4 Goreme
For early birds, a hot air balloon ride over the majestic landscape is a highly recommended experience, otherwise, enjoy a sleep in before heading to the Goreme Open Air Museum, a monastic complex and Christian sanctuary of carved houses, churches and monasteries. The museum was one of the earliest centres for religious education and there are at least ten churches and chapels in the complex, dating between AD900 and 1200. Enter the cave chapels and witness the exquisite colour of the biblical frescoes found within, followed by a free afternoon perhaps consider a sunset hike, ask your leader for the best places.
Day 5 Goreme
After breakfast this morning, head out on a walk of the surrounding valley and witness the fascinating rock formations and fairy chimneys, as well as manmade cave chapels from early Christian times. Later in the afternoon, visit the red river of Cappadocia famous for its clay which is still used to make magnificent pieces of Art. Meet a local potter and learn about this ancient craft and perhaps take the opportunity to purchase a hand-crafted souvenir. Continue your journey into the valleys of Cappadocia, stopping at Pasabag (Monks Valley) and Devrent (Imaginary Valley), both with unique fairy chimneys. After a day of exploration, enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.
Day 6 Konya
After breakfast, spend your last morning in Cappadocia exploring the Underground City of Derinkuyum an ancient metropolis made up of subterranean labyrinths and dwellings, some of them extending as deep as seven levels underground. Later this afternoon, travel to the city of Konya, where the mystic Sufi practice of ‘whirling’ originates. On arrival, enjoy an orientation walk of the town followed by a guided tour of the Mevlana Museum, where youll get a fascinating insight into the history of Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes.
Day 7 Antalya
This morning, drive across the magnificent Taurus Mountains to reach one of Turkey’s true coastal gems, Antalya. Your leader will introduce you to the delights of the Old City with an orientation walk along its cobblestone streets. Visit the clock tower, Hadrians gate and the old Roman Harbour before venturing to the historical zone of Kaleici an area within Antalyas historic centre thats protected from modern development, and home to relics of Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman occupation. Afterwards, feel free to swim, relax and enjoy stellar views overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean.
Day 8 Kas
Today youll enjoy a guided tour of the Antalya Museum, home to an excellent collection of Turkeys archaeological treasures. The beautifully preserved statues in the Hall of Gods, Heracles now among them, are not to be missed. After lunch, continue to the seaside village of Kas its whitewashed houses adorned with bougainvillea, as well as an ancient Greek theatre, makes this a great place to be explored on foot. If you feel like cooling off with a refreshing dip, why not head to one of the waterfront restaurants which often have their own private water access for the price of an occasional drink, you get your own deck chair, umbrella and unbeatable views. When the sun goes down theres the chance to explore the handicraft markets, where you can find beautiful handmade wares with a distinctly Turkish twist. For dinner this evening, make sure you sample the delicious local cuisine in the fishing village.
Day 9 Kas
Today youll drive to Kekova where youll board a local boat and take a relaxing cruise through a series of peaceful and picturesque islands, each with distinctive rock formations keep your eyes peeled for the ancient houses submerged in the clear water. For lunch, enjoy a homemade Turkish meal onboard before arriving in the settlement of Ucagiz, a township of stone houses draped in colourful flowers. Explore this quaint township before continuing to cruise to beautiful protected inlets perfect for a refreshing dip just off the boat. Return to Kas for the evening.
Day 10 Pamukkale
After breakfast make your way to Pamukkale, stopping enroute to enjoy some local home-cooked fare prepared by a group of inspiring women who are changing the face of tourism in Turkey. Hear their stories over some delicious Turkish dishes before continuing to Pamukkale. Renowned as one of the most photographed spots in Turkey, Pamukkale is home to spectacular natural hot springs of high calcium bicarbonate content, which cascade over the edge of the cliffs, leaving bright white deposit terraces. These pools have been used as a spa since 200 BC and although you won’t be able to bathe in these travertines, you can take a walk through them (after removing your shoes). Afterwards, take some time to visit the nearby ancient city of Hierapolis and take a dip in what used to be Cleopatras old pool sculpted as a gift from Mark Antony. You can also check out the other ruins of the city, Hierapolis is known for its abundance of temples and religious structures, vast necropolis and strange tombs, and the amphitheatre shouldnt be missed. After exploring these extensive ruins, return to Pamukkale for the night.
Day 11 Selcuk
Its an early start this morning as you make your way to Selcuk, your base for visiting Ephesus. Selcuk itself is culturally rich and retains many Turkish traditions, and its relatively undisturbed nature means this is an opportunity to experience the real Turkey. On the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill lie several historical buildings youll see the Isa Bey Mosque and the imposing Byzantine citadel of the Grand Fortress. Just below the fortress are the ruins of the Basilica of St John, built over the supposed burial site of the saint. Just a short distance out of Selcuk is one of the ancient world’s Seven Wonders, the Temple of Artemis, although, sadly, only a single column (of 127 originally) remains. The Temple of Artemis was unfortunately destroyed in AD 401, after being successively damaged by floods, a Greek arsonist seeking notoriety, and the Goths. Youll arrive in Selcuk with enough time to check in to the guesthouse and then take a leader-led orientation walk of the town.
Day 12 Selcuk
Today you’ll visit Ephesus, one of Turkey’s most important ancient sites. Explore this beautifully preserved classical city with your local guide who will bring its colourful 1500-year history to life. Watch in awe as the sophistication of this former metropolis reveals itself: it had running water, public toilets, a renowned medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is well-preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but the marvellous library might just be the highlight. Later you will stop for lunch at a family-run restaurant, where youll feast on gozleme the famous and very popular Turkish pancake made fresh before your eyes.
This afternoon there is an opportunity to visit Sultankoy. This small village is dedicated to carpet weaving, and here you can discover all about this traditional art form, from dying the wool to traditional weaving on wooden looms. Regardless if you are in the market for a new rug or not this is an opportunity to support local weavers enjoy some Turkish hospitality, and discover the beauty of Turkish Rug Making.
Day 13 Canakkale
This morning, travel to the waterside town of Canakkale, where on arrival, youll join your leader for an orientation walk of this exciting university city perched on the Dardanelles. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you please. You might like to see the Trojan horse used in the film Troy in 2004, which was later gifted to the city. Canakkale has a great range of dining options ask your leader for some recommendations. Afterwards, why not take a stroll along the waterfront and sample some dondurma, a type of Turkish ice-cream.
Day 14 Gallipoli – Istanbul
Today youll cross the Dardanelles and head to the Gallipoli Peninsula, a place of enormous significance to Australians and New Zealanders. Turkey’s most westerly point may feel serene; however, this coastal point was once a major backdrop of the Great War. Visit the beach and cemeteries of Anzac Cove, then head up the hill to pay homage at the Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair memorials. From the Ataturk Memorial you can look down on the blue waters of the Dardanelles and see them in a more sombre light, you’ll also find the remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers around this area. After touring the former battlefields, head back to Istanbul where your journey began, arriving late afternoon or early evening. Perhaps join your fellow travellers for a group dinner to toast to your journey.
Day 15 Istanbul
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast and there are no further activities planned.