Treasures of Turkey Trip Notes

 

 

At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.

Trip code : PETT
Trip length : 15
Trip starts in : Istanbul
Trip ends in : Istanbul
Maximum group size : maximum 15

highlights

  • The surreal rock formations and valleys of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cappadocia
  • UNESCO World Heritage-listed archaeological site of Troy
  • The First World War history of Gallipoli
  • Gulet cruise on the Mediterranean to a sunken Lycian city near Kekova

 

The more you see of Turkey, the more you realise you have yet to see. From the cosmopolitan delights of Istanbul to the Roman remains of Ephesus, you’ll discover a country of fascinating contrasts. You’ll cover a lot of ground in 15 days but still have plenty of time to stroll, shop and relax with a pot of apple tea.

itin

Day
1

Arrive Istanbul

If arriving at Istanbul's Atakurk International Airport (IST) you will be met and transferred to your starting hotel. If arriving at Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) airport please make your own way to the hotel (unless you have booked a transfer). As today is an arrival day, there is no formal sightseeing planned. Istanbul is one of the great cities of the world, with a history spanning thousands of years. It has been through several incarnations, firstly as Byzantium, then Constantinople and finally Istanbul. The city today is bustling and its streets are crowded with locals busily going about their daily lives. If you arrive early enough, you can wander and absorb the vibrancy of this exciting city that links Europe and Asia. In the evening there will be a Welcome Meeting (please check noticeboard for exact time) held in the hotel, where you will meet your tour leader and fellow travel companions.

Day
2

Istanbul - Ankara

This morning our guide introduces us to the treasure trove of the historic old town. We visit the iconic 17th century Blue Mosque, built for Sultan Ahmet I and a unique piece of architecture because of its six minarets rather than the usual four found across the rest of the Muslim world. Another striking feature is its 20,000 beautiful Iznik tiles. The ancient Hippodrome with Obelisk of Theodosius, Snake Pillar and German Fountain of Wilhelm II are also visited. At around midday , we farewell Istanbul and take a private minibus to Ankara, Turkey's capital, where we spend the evening.

Day
3

Ankara - Cappadocia - Goreme

We spend the morning visiting the Anatolian Civilisation Museum of Ankara exhibiting a rich collection of archeological objects found during excavations in Anatolia. We then depart in our minibus for a four hour journey to Cappadocia. We travel through the Anatolian landscape via a salt lake (tuz gölü), one of the richest salt beds in the world. Approximately 300,000 tons of salt per year (60% of total salt production in Turkey) is produced by this lake. Before arriving to Göreme in the heart of Cappadocia we stop to visit 13th century Agzikarahan Caravanserai, which was built by the Seljuk sultan, Alaettin Keykubad I. 'Caravanserais,' were developed along old trade routes to provide shelters and protection to nomadic traders. These centuries-old buildings were built of stone and housed Caravaneers and their cargos plus their horses, donkeys and even camels as they made their way along the old Silk Road trading route that stretched all the way from China.Don't forget to pack sturdy, well worn in, walking shoes or boots and a comfy daypack . We end the day at our hotel in Goreme.

Day
4

Cappadocia - Goreme

This morning we visit the Göreme Open Air museum: The people of Göreme, at the heart of the Cappadocia Region, realised that the soft rocks of the area could be easily carved out to form houses, churches, monasteries. This Christian sanctuary contains many examples of Byzantine art from the post-iconoclastic period. These frescoes are a unique artistic achievement from the 10th - 12th centuries. There are several Byzantine cave chapels to explore, most of them decorated with exquisite and colourful biblical frescoes. In the afternoon we discover the local handcraft of the region and visit a carpet workshop, a tradition that reveals the nomadic origins of the Turkish people. Later in the afternoon we embark on a short walk through the unusual 'Love Valley' before heading back to our hotel in Goreme. There is the option of enjoying a traditional Turkish bath to unwind from the day's activities.

Day
5

Cappadocia - Goreme

After a relaxing breakfast we take a walk toward Kizilcukur (Red Valley), where its magnificently sculptured, red rock formations have created arguably the most beautiful valley in Cappadocia. Small valleys, cones, peaks and fairy chimneys blend harmoniously with fascinating cave chapels that date back to the early Christian period. In the afternoon we drive to the unique Pasabaglari Valley, where multiple fairy chimneys hewn from the earth and shaped by centuries of erosion lend a moon-like landscape and atmosphere to the valley. A chapel dedicated to St. Simeon and a hermit's shelter are built into one of the fairy chimneys, which appears to have three heads! We walk today for a total of about three hours. In the afternoon we will take the opportunity to discover the local handcraft of pottery. Returning to Goreme, we have a night at leisure. We may have an opportunity to attend a folk dance show or witness an original Whirling Dervish 'Sema' performance.

Day
6

Ihlara - Konya

We start the morning with a visit to the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu, with some dwellings containing rooms expanding seven levels beneath ground levelFor early birds, there is the possibility of rising before dawn to take an awe-inspiring optional hot-air balloon ride over the 'other-worldly' Cappadocia landscape and witness an amazing sunrise in the process. Those preferring a more leisurely start to the day can relax over breakfast before leaving the fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia behind and driving to the village of Belisirma in the Valley of Ihlara on the slopes of Mount Hasan, one of the volcanos responsible for the forming of Cappadocia. From here we embark on a wonderful walk along the Melendiz River and experience traditional village life, as we walk through the beautiful Ihlara Valley to Ihlara village. There are dozens of Byzantine cave chapels to explore along the way and most of them are decorated with exquisite biblical frescoes (1.5 hour walk). We then leave the area of Cappadocia behind and drive to Konya, our stop for the night. Please note that Konya is a very religious town, so it is best that we dress conservatively during our time here.

Day
7

Aspendos - Antalya

Konya, known as 'Iconium' in Roman times, was also the capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to 13th Centuries and home of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, who founded a mystic Sufi order popularly known as the 'Whirling Dervishes'. We visit Mevlana's Mausoleum and the museum housing manuscripts of his works, as well as various artefacts relating to the mystic sect that he founded. We then take a five hour drive to the coastal city of Antalya one of the best-known classical sites in Turkey. A highlight here is the beautifully preserved theatre at Aspendos - one of the finest in the ancient world.

Day
8

Antalya - Phaselis - Kas

After breakfast we stop at the Lycian city of Phaselis, which was founded in the 7th Century BC and flourished as a commercial trading centre where anything could be bought and sold, including citizenships for 100 drachmas! The Phaselians were more concerned about preserving the affluence of their commerce than with staking any political independence, so they pragmatically accepted any conquerors that came their way. The city thrived until the 12th Century when it was superceded in importance by the nearby ports of Antalya and Alanya. The beauty of Phaselis is in its picture postcard setting. It is built around three small bays, each with its own beach, surrounded by fragrant woods and mountains. We continue on to the beautiful seaside village of Kas (pronounced 'karsh'). This has charming whitewashed houses graced with bougainvilleas as well as an ancient Greek theatre. This fishing village is a wonderful place to sample the local cuisine and we have a two nights here to soak up the atmosphere in the quaint town centre.

Day
9

Kekova Boat Cruise - Kas

This morning we drive to Kekova, where we will board our local boat for a relaxing cruise through a series of peaceful and picturesque islands, all with very distinctive rock formations. Look out for some ancient houses that are submerged under the clear water! On board we are cooked a home made Turkish meal by our host family for the day. Our cruise also takes us to the settlement of Ucagiz and also the quaint village of Simena, with its stone houses covered in bougainvilleas. We can enjoy a spectacular view from the castle. We also sail from large bays to beautiful protected inlets, where we have the opportunity to enjoy a swim off our boat. All in all a day of relaxation and beautiful vistas. We return to Kas for the evening.

Day
10

Fethiye

This morning we visit the Lycian site of Xanthos, which was once the capital city of the Lycian Federation. Because of its remoteness, Xanthos is usually not overcrowded with tourists and the place has retained a tranquil atmosphere. We continue from here through pine trees and over a mountain, which commands breathtaking views, before arriving at the Greek ghost town of Kayakoy. It was a thriving township with a population of 3,500 until 1923 when Ataturk instituted the exchange program with Greece, where itinerant Greek and Turkish populations were repatriated to country of origin. Kayakoy is seemingly an instant, became a derelict town and was further destroyed by ensuing earthquakes. Today, only a few Turkish families inhabit houses at the bottom of the town's rolling hills and the whole place has a marvelously eerie feel. We have time to relax and enjoy the area before driving to the culturally rich town of Fethiye, situated on a bay surrounded by pine forests and full of islands. We have a free evening to enjoy a meal and the views from a waterfront restaurant.

Day
11

Pamukkale

After breakfast this morning we drive to Pamukkale, also known as 'Cotton Castle' and a truly unique sight. This magical and spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits from thermal waters that cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years, forming a myriad of pools and terraces. As the water overflows from the pools, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that, from afar, resemble cotton or snow. The pools are filled with hot spring waters that supposedly have healing properties for a person's circulation and digestive systems. Close to Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis, which was founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BC and by the 2nd Century AD it had become an important Roman bath centre. The extensive ruins of Hierapolis are well worth exploring and include a theatre, temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica and necropolis. We spend our night in a hotel in Pamukkale.

Day
12

Ephesus - Selçuk

After breakfast we make an early start for a drive of about four hours to Selçuk, which is our base for visiting Ephesus - one of the best-preserved classical cities in the eastern Mediterranean and a great example of Roman architecture. We drive to Ephesus, possibly the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world and definitely a highlight of your trip! Always an important religious centre, Ephesus was founded by Ionian Greeks in the 11th Century BC and flourished under Roman rule. The Greeks replaced the cult of the Anatolian fertility goddess Cybele with Artemis and built a fabulous temple in her honour. With the arrival of the Romans, it became the Temple of Diana and was one of the original seven wonders of the ancient world. We visit the vast amphitheatre, walk the marble street once trodden by Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and wonderfully restored Library of Celsus. An orientation tour familiarises us with Selçuk, a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient fortress on Ayasoluk Hill. Those who wish can take an option visit to the last home of the Virgin Mary, who as legend states came here accompanied by St John and lived out her days in this beautiful spot. We spend the night in a hotel in Selçuk and have a chance to reflect and fully comprehend the history and splendour of our days discoveries.

Day
13

Selçuk - Troy - Çanakkale

Early this morning, after breakfast we begin the drive to Çanakkale, located on the shores of the Dardanelles, which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea and touches both Europe (with the Gelibolu Peninsula) and Asia (with the Biga Peninsula). On the way, we visit an important historical site near Çanakkale, Troy. Troy (Truva) was a city that existed over 4.000 years ago and was known as a major ancient civilization. For many years people believed that it was the city mentioned only in the tales and never truly existed, as the area had become known as Ilium, or New Ilium. Archaeological digs subsequently proved that there had been nine separate periods of settlement. (3000 BC-AD 400) on what became accepted as the site of ancient Troy. Each successive period of habitation lies on top of its former incarnation. Here we can see the remnants of the ancient city walls in addition to a replica of the famous wooden horse. Historian's are still at odds as to whether or not this fable or indeed the battle itself is stuff of lore or reality. Arriving in Çanakkale where we have the remainder of the day free to wander around this vibrant waterfront town and perhaps view the Trojan horse used and subsequently gifted to the city by the producers of the movie Troy filmed in 2004.

Day
14

Gallipoli - Istanbul

We cross the Dardanelles and return to 'Europe,' and visit the Gallipoli Peninsula - a place of enormous significance to Australians and New Zealander's. Located at Turkey's most westerly point this area is now serene, but the role it played in April 1915 during the First World War is now firmly etched on the psyche of the New Zealand and Australian nations. We visit the beach and cemeteries of Anzac Cove, then head up the hill to pay homage at the poignant memorials of Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. The latter the highest ground secured in the campaign on the 8th of August, 1915 (by New Zealand and British troops) before being beaten back due to lack of reinforcement. From the Ataturk Memorial at this spot we can view the Allied troops goal - the Dardenelles. We can look down upon the rough and barren hills and gulleys that became the graveyard for so many thousands of young men from both sides. Around this area we can find remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. After touring the former battlefields we head back to where our adventure began - Istanbul. We will arrive back in Istanbul in the late afternoon or early evening and the remainder of the evening is free. This unique city that is built embracing two continents (Europe and Asia), is a great place to spend our final night together, indulging in a true feast for the senses!

Day
15

End Istanbul

Our journey ends after breakfast, in Istanbul. For those wishing to further explore this intriguing city, additional nights' accommodation can be booked here.

itin-variation

While the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.

trip-grade

Discovery

Discovery tours are all about exploring & experiencing the world with like-minded people, dipping your toe beneath the usual tourist surface & discovering the real essence of a region. They are genuinely innovative, exciting & imaginative tours that offer that little bit more to travellers.

Style Facts

  • Enjoy a destination in depth and comfort
  • Tourist class hotels and family homestays
  • Both private and local transport
  • A number of included activities and meals throughout
  • Fully trained and experienced leader.

 

Plus

Our Plus tours allow you to immerse yourself within a destination or culture whilst travelling and sleeping in comfort. They are packed with highlights to ensure you get the most out of your valuable time away yet are also slower paced allowing you time to savour the culture, traditions and sights of your destination – the perfect balance.

On some trips we’ll push you out of your comfort zone to ensure an authentic experience, on other trips you will stay in amazing places where there is no ‘roughing it’ involved. There is plenty of choice so you can select a trip with as much activity or as little as you wish. Our small groups ensure a more intimate experience and that the impact on the local environment and community is kept to a minimum. Extra Comfort tours offer rich and rewarding adventures and are stress-free, safe and, most importantly, fun!

Style Facts

  • Innovative itineraries offering authentic travel encounters
  • A mix of active adventure, culture, wildlife, sightseeing and relaxation
  • Well appointed, quality hotels in central locations
  • Arrival transfers, transport (mostly private) and accommodation included
  • Many meals and adventure activities also included
  • Fully trained and experienced local leaders

 This tour is operated by our partners Peregrine Adventures

included

  • English-speaking local tour leader
  • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Istanbul; Anatolian Civilisation Museum in Ankara; Göreme Open Air museum; Mevlana's Mausoleum in Konya; Antalya’s theatre at Aspendos; Simena Castle, Lycian city of Phaselis; Xanthos; Kayakoy; Agzikarahan Caravanserai; underground city of Derinkuyu; Cappadocia; Pamukkale and Hierapolis; Ephesus; and Troy
  • Walks in ‘Love Valley’, Kizilcukur (Red Valley), Pasabaglari Valley and Ihlara Valley
  • Day boat cruise on the Turquoise coast including a delicious local lunch
  • Visit to the battlefields of the Gallipoli Peninsula
  • Arrival transfer (from Istanbul's Ataturk airport IST)

not-included

International flights, departure transfer, departure taxes, visas, insurance (compulsory on all trips), meals not listed (lunches and dinners), any optional tours or activities during free time, camera fees, excess baggage charges, tips and items of a personal nature.

meals

14 breakfasts, 1 lunch,

single-room-sup

Most of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.

other-important-information

This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

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