For travellers willing to step outside their comfort zone, who don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end. Just the ticket for those aged between 18-35 or anyone young at heart with an open mind, an eye on the budget & a nose for adventure.
Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.
We ask that you read it carefully and that you take the document with you on your holiday. It contains information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, etc, as well as a detailed, day by day itinerary of your trip.
Local leader, accommodation and transport
International flights, arrival & departure transfers, departure taxes, visas, travel insurance (compulsory on all trips), meals (where not listed as included in the itinerary), drinks, optional additional tours or activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature. Entrance fees except for Ephesus and Derinkuyu.
Australians, Americans, British and Canadians require a visa for Turkey. New Zealanders do not currently require a visa for Turkey. For all other nationalities, please reconfirm your visa requirements with your travel agent of the nearest Turkish Consulate or Embassy.
Please note that the process for obtaining a visa for Turkey is due to change on 10 April, 2014.
For travellers due to arrive in Turkey on or before 9 April, 2014, the following will apply:
Both Single and Multiple entry visas are available on arrival and are payable in cash in either US dollars, Euros, or Pounds Sterling in exact change (travellers’ cheques and credit cards are not accepted).
At the time of writing, the cost of a single-entry visa is EUR 45 or US$60 for Australians and Canadians and EUR 15, $20 or GBP 10 for British and US Citizens. Please note that these amounts may change without notice.
For travellers due to arrive in Turkey on or after 10 April, 2014, the following will apply:
Visas will no longer be available to obtain on arrival; an e-visa must be obtained before you go. Please go to https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/ for all the information you need to obtain an e-visa.
Many governments publish up-to-date travel advice for countries around the world. Information is gleaned from both local and international sources as well as ‘friendly’ governments, and the notices are often on the cautious side. Sometimes there will be conflicting information. For example, the Australian, UK and Canadian governments may agree on the nature of the advice; however, frequently they do not. And sometimes the views expressed by a particular government can be coloured by political considerations. We will monitor these travel advisories closely and may alter itineraries or cancel trips as a result. However, it is also your responsibility to stay informed and form a balanced view. We recommend that you visit the websites or contact the departments listed below. Unless otherwise stated, it is not normally the intention of the relevant government travel advice to dissuade you from travelling. Rather, it is to inform you of where and when you should exercise caution to avoid problems. Please also note that, as a responsible tour operator, we maintain constant links with our ground operators and your safety - at all times - is our paramount concern. You can check your government's latest travel advice at one of the links below:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
U.S. Department of State New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended
Vaccination requirements do change, but generally you do not need vaccinations on this trip.
If vaccinations are required, do not leave them until the last minute. Some should be received at least a month before departure. It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return. To find out which, if any, vaccinations are mandatory or recommended for your destination contact your local doctor, immunisation centre or medical centre for up-to-date information.
For travellers from Australia and New Zealand, we strongly recommend Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics to obtain the most up-to-date advice on health risks and vaccinations (see www.traveldoctor.com.au for locations and detailed vaccine information or phone 1300 658 844 for an appointment in Australia). Some vaccines require more than one dose, so arrange for your visit at least 4-6 weeks before you travel. Travellers living outside Australia and New Zealand will need to consult a similar organisation in their own country (please ask your travel agent for recommendations), but can still access the following link for information: www.traveldoctor.com.au/travelreport.
Carry your Certificate
You should be issued with an International Certificate of Vaccination booklet that records each vaccination. Always carry this with you on your travels; it could provide essential information for doctors in the event that you fall ill whilst travelling.
We recommend that you photocopy the main pages of your passport, your airline ticket, itinerary, insurance policy, traveller’s cheques and credit card. Keep one set of photocopies with you, separate from the originals. Leave one set of copies at home with family or friends. It is also worth taking some extra passport photos with you in case of additional visas, permits or other unforeseen paperwork.
If you are joining the special Anzac Day departure you will need to bring a sleeping bag for when you sleep under the stars at Gallipoli.
Remember - the lighter you travel the better! A backpack is the ideal form of luggage. It is recommended that you keep your luggage weight around 15kg and certainly no more than 20kg. A suitcase is also suitable although there will be times when you have to carry them on railway platforms and up and down stairs.
When you pack your clothing, consider the climate at the time of year you are travelling and any specific requirements for your trip as at certain times of the year some of the items suggested in the list that follow may not be necessary. Bear in mind that the weather will vary significantly from place to place. Laundry facilities are available in some destinations.
Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.
It is a good idea to take a small medical kit with you, and you should consider packing the following items:
Antibiotics, Lip-balm, moisturiser, sunscreen, headache tablets, antiseptic (e.g. Betadine), anti-diarrhoea tablets (for changes in diet and water), laxatives, band-aids/moleskin/dressing strips for blisters, small scissors/tweezers. Note that moleskin is particularly good for blisters and can be obtained from any pharmacy.
It is also recommended to carry a letter from your doctor explaining any less common prescribed medications that you may be carrying.
Stomach upsets are not uncommon when travelling through new destinations (usually a 24 - 48 hour 'bug') and this may cause diarrhoea, leading to dehydration. Should you develop a stomach upset you should eat only in moderation and drink plenty of fluids. It is a good idea to carry a couple of sachets of rehydrants with you (such as Gastrolite). We also suggest that you carry one of the common anti-diarrhoea tablets such as Imodium.
It can be quite easy to get sun burnt when you are not accustomed to the sun in new climates. You should take sensible precautions such as wearing a hat and using a good UV sunscreen. Finally, drink plenty of fluids - preferably water.
In general, water is not safe to drink in the areas through which we travel. Bottled Water is widely available and most travellers prefer to drink this. Your guide can assist you in regards to the relative safety of tap water and the availability of bottled water on each tour. When walking, or in hot conditions, you must make a conscious effort to maintain your hydration, drinking as much water/tea as possible to offset fluid loss.
Turkey’s currency is the Yeni Türk Lirasý (New Turkish Lira; YTL). The lira comes in coins of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 kuruþ and a 1 lira coin, and notes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 lira.
Check out www.xe.com for current exchange rates.
You can use ATMs to take Turkish lira from your Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus or Maestro card. Use ATMs which show these logos. ATMs are available in most large towns and most offer instructions in English. Remember to draw out money in larger towns to tide you over when travelling through smaller villages which may not have them. Your tour leader can offer advice on this. US dollars and euros are the easiest currencies to change; however some large banks and exchange office also accept UK pounds. It may be difficult to change Australian dollars and Canadian dollars except for in large banks in major cities. Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted by many hotels, shops and restaurants; although at pensions and local restaurants you are best to have cash. Cash advances at banks and ATMs is possible on credit cards; however please note that American Express credit cards are not widely accepted. Traveller’s cheques are usually a burden to change and you will often be charged a premium to do so. Instead we recommend you take a combination of cards and cash.
Entrance fees are not included in the tour cost.
Clients are responsible for expenses (e.g. meals, transportation or hotel costs) not specified as included in the trip cost but that may be required to get to or from a trip start or end. Other costs to consider are tips, laundry, souvenirs, additional sightseeing and possible delays. It is much better to come with more than you would expect to spend and to end the trip with a surplus, rather than being caught short! It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies, which could happen en route. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the source and reimbursement will be made later by your insurance company. This is the situation where having a credit card may be useful. For meals not included in the itinerary, we recommend around 15-20 Turkish Lira (TRY) for a light lunch and around 25-30 TRY for dinner. On top of this, you should carry extra for drinks, shopping and any optional activities that may be offered during your trip.
In most countries you must pay an airport departure tax. The departure tax for Turkey is included in your air ticket.
Tipping is a part of life in Turkey and although not compulsory, it is customary to tip service providers. Over the years we have found that most of our customers find this constant need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if you don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a very successful tipping kitty system. At the beginning of the tour, your tour leader will suggest collecting a set amount from each tour member. He/she will then distribute all tips along the way, on behalf of the group, to the local guides, porters and anyone else who provides services along the way. We have surveyed thousands of our previous clients and the vast majority clearly prefers this procedure. We hope that this system will also work for you. The amount will vary from trip to trip, but it usually works out to be about the equivalent of 5 Turkish Lira (2 Euro) per person per day. If you are out on your own, for example at a restaurant, you should also leave a tip for the waiter.
Please note that the tipping kitty will NOT include a gratuity for your tour leader.
Tips for leaders and drivers are greatly appreciated, and at your discretion, as a gesture of thanks for their professionalism and leadership during your holiday. We are often asked whether it is appropriate to tip the local leader and driver and what a reasonable amount might be. Although we have considered including such tips in the overall trip cost, we have again and again come back to the belief that recognition for meaningful service is a personal matter. If you feel that your leader and driver have provided an exceptional trip experience, tips are encouraged and appropriate at the trip end. The amount is at your discretion. They work hard for you and if you are happy with their service it is appropriate to tip them as well. Appropriate tipping amounts are 12 Turkish Lira (5 Euros) per person/ per day for your tour leader and 5 Turkish Lira (2 Euro) per person per day for your driver.
Please make your own way to joining hotel unless you have booked an arrival transfer (please refer to your itinerary for joining hotel name and address).
Please ask first if you want to take someone's photograph. This is just a normal courtesy and if you are refused permission please abide by that person's wishes. At certain ancient sites, and in most museums, photography (video or still) may be forbidden, or may incur an extra charge for camera-use. Do not take photos of buildings, structures and personnel of potential military significance (including airports, bridges, and police stations).
Travelling with us can provide you with some really rewarding travel experiences. Our tours visit countries where travel modes and lifestyles are often not as sophisticated as our own. There is also a laid-back attitude amongst workers and there will often seem to be huge amounts of red tape and bureaucracy when doing the simplest things. You will enjoy your trip much more if you slip into the rhythm of local life and are prepared to take things as they come.
In most countries even the smallest quantity of an illegal substance is considered a very serious offence and can carry lengthy jail terms. Avoid any contact with illegal drugs. Don’t put yourself and others at risk and never carry bags or luggage for other people. Any person found to be carrying or using illegal drugs will be asked to leave the trip immediately without the right to any refund.
Eating out in Turkey is relatively inexpensive. Good quality snack foods, such as small pizzas, cheese puffs or doner kebab sandwiches are good for a light lunch, will cost about 2-5 euros. A typical dinner will include mezzes and kebabs and will set you back about 7-10 euros. Soft drinks cost about 1 euro and a beer around 2 euros in shops. In pubs and bars, beer is around 3-4 euros.
The 23 April 2014 departure ties in with ANZAC day at Gallipoli and the night of Day 2 will be spent sleeping under the stars in Anzac Cove instead of a hotel in Istanbul. You will be required to bring a sleeping bag for this night. There will be a surcharge for this departure.
In the case of an on ground issue or problem, Gecko's Istanbul Office can be reached on: +90 532 641 2822
Please note some sites in Istanbul are closed on certain days of the week - the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays, Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) is closed on Mondays and Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays. Please keep this in mind when planning visits to these sites.
Ramadan occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is an exciting (and at times, frustrating) time to travel in Turkey and the Middle East. In the evening there is a celebratory atmosphere as people break their fast, and to witness all this is a real highlight. However, during the day, people must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity, so if you encounter someone who is a bit grumpy, be sympathetic! Tourist sites are generally unaffected although some places may close early, but your leader will plan around this. Most hotels bars and tourist restaurants will remain open. Overall, Ramadan is a really interesting time to visit Turkey and the Middle East, although you do need to be flexible, sympathetic and sensitive. In 2014, Ramadan will start on 28 June and will end on 27 July, and in 2015 it will begin on 18 June and end on 16 July.
Ramadan occurs in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is an exciting (and at times, frustrating) time to travel in Morocco, Turkey and the Middle East. In the evening there is a celebratory atmosphere as people break their fast, and to witness all this is a real highlight. However, during the day, people must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity, so if you encounter someone who is a bit grumpy, be sympathetic! Tourists sites are generally unaffected although some places may close early, but your leader will plan around this. Most hotels bars and tourist restaurants will remain open. Overall, Ramadan is a really interesting time to visit Morocco, Turkey and the Middle East, although you do need to be flexible, sympathetic and sensitive. In 2014, Ramadan will start on 28th June and finish on 27th July. For 2015 Ramadan will start on the 18th June and will end on 17th July.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
We've found accommodation right near the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market (so you won't have to lug your treasures very far). Convenient, no?
Meals included: 1 breakfast
No jokes about Gallipoli. If you choose to take the optional trip to Troy, however, you're free to remember Brad Pitt's terrible accent in the movie and laugh yourself silly.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
We suggest you devote this day to finding the best burek of the trip. Or the best kebab. Or the best baklava. Maybe just devote this day entirely to food. Your local guide can help.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Ephesus is the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world. Antony and Cleopatra lived here for a while, as did the Virgin Mary. These days it would be known as something of a hotspot.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
This place is so pretty Walt Disney would be jealous he didn't invent it. Apparently the thermal waters can cure asthma, but bring your inhaler just in case.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Konya is home to the famous Whirling Dervishes. Please note that most of the whirling takes place behind closed doors. You won't see people spinning randomly on the street.
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Explore Cappadocia, the lunar-like landscape in the interior of the country. Moon boots optional.
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Jess said her favourite part of Istanbul was the Basilica Cistern. After the initial shock of discovering it's not a giant toilet, she described it as "...amazing, creepy, Medusa head, fishy, haunting, lovely". Jess has a way with words.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact us. We are here to help you!
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12th March 2014
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