11 nights/ 12 days
Istanbul to Istanbul

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Turkey is a richly historical country with tantalizing tastes and stunning sights. It is a land of ancient bazaars and sandy beaches, magnificent ruins and soaring mountains. Turkey’s charm lies somewhere between the stunning landscapes of Cappadocia; the constant surprises provided by its storied history; and the hearty locals, who are always ready to chat over a cay or Efes beer.  Our romp through Southern Turkey will have us hiking, kayaking, riding, sailing, and soaring above fairytale chimneys in a hot air balloon.

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Activities:Hiking, Kayaking, Sailing, Hot Air Balloon
2017 Dates:April 26-May 7 $2395
Group Size:8-16 people
Travel Style:Comfort
Physical Rating:All Ability Levels
Single Supplement: $450
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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Become acquainted with illustrious Istanbul
  • Behold landscapes of honeycombed hills and towering boulders in Cappadocia
  • Soar above fairytale chimneys in one of the most favored places in the world to experience a hot air balloon ride
  • Hike through ruins and Turkish villages
  • Marvel at the ancient ruins of Ephesus
  • Take a soak in Pamukkale’s thermal hot springs
  • Sail the Turkish coast in a traditional wooden sailing ship

 Day 1: Istanbul

Today is arrival day, so there are no planned activities. Upon arrival, you’ll be picked up at the airport by private transportation to your hotel in old city area of Istanbul.  This magical meeting place of East and West has more top-drawer attractions than it has minarets (and that’s a lot). The locals offer an endless supply of hospitality, good-humour and insightful conversation. As you walk down the streets, layers of history unfold and an extraordinary cultural experience lies around every corner.

INCLUDED:

  • Private airport transfer

Overnight at Olimpiyat Hotel or similar

Day 2: Istanbul (B)

This morning, we’ll meet our guide for a half-day classic Istanbul tour, which is a must-do in this incredible city. We’ll start with a visit to Hagia Sophia, the splendid Church of Divine Wisdom built in the 4th century BC. St. Sophia’s dome was then the largest in the world. After several conquests and pillages, the building was converted into a mosque, but fell into disrepair as centuries passed. The brilliant Byzantine mosaics were uncovered in the 1900’s and the church now is now a breathtaking Byzantine-Ottoman museum.

Next, you will see the German Fountain – a gift of Kaiser Wilhelm 2, and listen the stories of his liaison with the orient. We’ll walk over to the Hippodrome, where the chariot races were organized by the Romans and Byzantines. Today it is lined with parks, obelisks and monuments, including the Blue Mosque (called Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish), named for its richly adorned interior of magnificent Iznik tiles. Built between 1609 and 1616, this is the only mosque with six minarets and its surroundings will be our next place to visit. Our guide will take us through it’s interior and provide an explanation of this Western leaning Muslim country. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasa and a hospice. Besides being a popular tourist attraction, the Blue Mosque is still used as a place of worship.

Following the visits to these historical landmarks, our guide will take us to the Grand Bazaar, which houses more than 4,000 stalls selling local goods. This is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. The rest of the day will be at your leisure.

INCLUDED:

  • Half-Day Classic Istanbul Tour
  • Private Transportation
  • Meals: Breakfast

Overnight at Olimpiyat Hotel or similar

Day 3: Cappadocia (B, L)

Early in the morning, we’ll check out of our hotel and transfer to Istanbul airport for our morning flight to Cappadocia. As if plucked from a whimsical fairytale and set down upon the stark Anatolian plains, Cappadocia is a geological oddity of honeycombed hills and towering boulders of otherworldly beauty. The fantastic topography is matched by the human history here. People have long utilized the region’s soft stone, seeking shelter underground and leaving the countryside scattered with fascinating troglodyte-style architecture.

Upon our arrival, our expert guide will meet us at the Cappadocia airport with private transportation for a full day guided tour of Cappadocia. The first stop is Esentepe, the impressive panoramic viewpoint overlooking Goreme history of Cappadocia and its unique rock formations.

We’ll then proceed to the Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site and an essential stop on any Cappadocian itinerary. First an important Byzantine monastic settlement that housed some 20 monks, then a pilgrimage site from the 17th century, this splendid cluster of monastic Byzantine artistry with its rock-cut churches, chapels and monastaries is 1 km uphill from Goreme’s centre. Our guide will offer important information about the frescoes in the cave churches, decorated with scenes of the Old and New Testaments dating back to the 10th century. The site has been used as a monastery since the first years of Christianity.

For lunch we will visit a lovely restaurant in Goreme before visiting the Uchisar Rock Castle situated at the highest point in Cappadocia. We’ll make several photo stops along the way – including Urgup’s family fairy chimneys (Three Graces), Devrent’s animal-shaped rock formations and Monk’s Valley with the famous mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys as well as St. Simeon’s monk cell carved into the rock.

Our day concludes in Avanos, a picturesque town on the river that supplies clay for the 4000 year-old Avanos tradition of pottery. Here, we’ll see a kick-wheel demonstration by a local potter and you’ll have your chance at trying this ancient custom, bringing our day to an end. You will arrive at your hotel around 05:00pm for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of cave hotel accommodation.

INCLUDED:

  • Flight to Cappadocia
  • Private Transportation
  • Regional Tour of Cappadocia
  • Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Overnight at Lalesaray Cave Hotel or similar

Day 4: Cappadocia (B, D)

This morning, at sunrise, we will get a birds-eye-view of this magical landscape as we take flight in a hot air balloon! Cappadocia is one of the most popular spots in the world for hot air ballooning. We’ll be picked up from the hotel around 5:00am, taken to the launch site. You’ll be able to have a cup of tea or coffee and light snacks while the balloon crew is getting the balloons ready for flight. As we load into the basket the pilot will give you information about flight safety. As we take off, you will be hypnotized by the spectacular and surreal landscape that lies below. We will gently drift over the fairy chimney, through valleys scattered with pigeon houses, over orchards and vineyards. The different colors of the diversified landscape will leave you breathless. After the landing there is a champagne celebration and you will receive a flight certificate. After that, we’ll return to the hotel for breakfast around 8:30am.

The rest of the day will be free to do what you wish. There are a variety of optional activities for you to choose from including:

  • Hiking through Cappadocia valleys – Price depends on demand
  • Horseback riding (2 hours) – $65/ person
  • ATV (2 hours) – $65/ person
  • Jeep Safari (2-2 ½ hours) – $250 per jeep (3-4 persons)

For a memorable and authentic evening we’ll go to dinner in a local’s village house where we will have a great time learning the food culture and Turkish culture, eat fresh and delicious traditional Turkish meals and experience the hospitality of a Turkish family. After dinner, we’ll return to our hotel.

INCLUDED:

  • Hot Air Balloon Flight at Sunrise
  • Private Transportation
  • Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

Overnight at Lalesaray Cave Hotel or similar

Day 5: Izmir (B)

This morning, we’ll have a bit of free time after breakfast before we transfer to Cappadocia airport for our flight to Izmir. Upon your arrival in Izmir airport, we’ll be transferred to our hotel in Kusadasi (Bird Island), also the coastal gateway to Ephesus. It’s seafront promenade, marina and harbor are lined with hotels and restaurants. A jumping-off point for visiting the classical nearby ruins, Kusadisi is a major cruise ship stop and has a vibrant nightlife scene with its Irish pubs and discos, perfect for some fun and dancing!

INCLUDED:

  • Flight to Izmir
  • Private Transportation
  • Meals: Breakfast

Overnight at Ilayda Avantgarde Hotel or similar

Day 6: Ephesus Ancient City (B, L)

After breakfast, we’ll meet our guide & drive to Ephesus for a full day tour. Ephesus is one of the world’s finest examples of a classical ancient city. As we arrive in Ephesus, we’ll first see the Magnesia Gate, a marvelous example of ancient architecture that once stood tall as an entrance to the city. We’ll begin a downhill walk with our guide into the city’s ruins. The route will take us past the Odeon, the Celsus Library, the Temple of Hadrian, the Fountain of Trajan and the Great Theater. The theater, one of the city’s best-preserved monuments, is still used today for the local spring festival. It once had seating space for 24,000 people, and it is believed to be the site where St. Paul preached to the Ephesians.

After enjoying some Turkish cuisine at lunch, we’ll visit the House of Virgin Mary, where many speculate that this is where she spent the final years of her life. We’ll also visit the Temple of Artemis (Diana), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and Basilica of St. John, before returning to the Kusadasi port.

INCLUDED:

  • Full-Day Tour of Ephesus Ancient City
  • Private Transportation
  • Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Overnight at Ilayda Avantgarde Hotel or similar

Day 7: Aphrodisia/ Pamukkale (B, L)

Today, you will visit the ancient city of Aphrodisias, one of the finest archaeological sites of Anatolia. Located in the fertile valley of the Meander River basin, the site remains partially excavated and partly undiscovered. Aphrodisias gets its name from the goddess of love, Aphrodite (or Venus to the Romans), said to have taken sanctuary here. Once an artistic center, the city was located in Caria in Asia Minor, near the modern-day village of Geyre.

After we’ve explored the Greek and Roman ruins, we’ll proceed to Pamukkale. On the way, we will learn the story of Hierapolis Ancient city, the sacred city, and explore its basilica, theatre, temple of Apollo, roman bath, St. Phillip Martyrium and other parts of the city. You will also have a chance to swim in the historical roman pool of Hierapolis. Among these archaeological treasures, the highlight of the excursion will be walking with bare-foot on the travertine terraces.

INCLUDED:

  • Visit ancient city of Aphrodisias and Pamukkale
  • Private Transportation
  • Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Overnight at Ayapam Hotel or similar

Day 8: Dalyan/ Fethiye (B, L)

After breakfast, we‘ll depart to the Honaz Waterfall, a great place to relax. From here, we’ll head to Dalyan for a classic boat trip. Dalyan is a small town on the southwest coast of Turkey on the Mediterranean. The town of Dalyan is situated in the center of the Dalyan delta and is an amazing ancient city of rock tombs and mud baths. Each morning, a fleet of painted boats chug off down the Dalyan River carrying passengers to the glorious sandy beach of Iztuzu, located at the mouth of the river delta. Starting from the Dalyan Harbour, our voyage takes us through beds of bulrushes and pampas grass. The entire Delta is a protected National Conservation area and is home to over 200 species of birds along with no less than three varieties of turtles, including the Loggerhead Caretta Caretta.

After our boat trip and lunch in Dalyan, we’ll drive to Fethiye and transfer to our hotel for the night.

INCLUDED:

  • Visit Honaz Waterfall, Dalyan & Fethiye
  • Private Transportation
  • Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Overnight at Paradise Garden Hotel or similar

Day 9: Fethiye/ Xantos/ Patara/ Kas (B, L)

Today we’ll explore the ancient land of Lycia. Our day starts with a visit to Xanthos, the first capital city of the Lycian Federation and the greatest city for Lycian history. It was made famous to the Western world in the 19th century by its British discoverer, Charles Fellows. Our guide will tell the story of the freedom loving people in this Unesco World Heritage Site. Xanthos has well-preserved ruins and monumental tombs, among lovely scenery.

Our next stop is the Saklıkent Gorge, the second longest gorge in Europe. Al fresco lunch will be served on the river and we’ll have the opportunity to do some trekking through the cool water between the walls or fun rafting can also be organized at the gorge.

Our last stop will be Patara beach, which is the longest sandy beach in Europe. You can choose to swim, relax or you can explore the ancient settlement at Patara. At the end of the day, we’ll continue to Kas where we’ll spend the night. Kas is a small fishing, diving, yachting and tourist town. As a tourist resort, it is relatively unspoiled.

INCLUDED:

  • Visit Fethiye, Xantos, Saklikent Gorge, Patara Beach, and Kas
  • Private Transportation
  • Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Overnight at Medusa Hotel or similar
Optional: 45 minutes Rafting: $25/ person
Optional: 60 minutes Rafting: $30/ person
Optional: Hiking in the Canyon: $2-3 admission to the canyon

Day 10: Kas (B)

It’s no wonder that Kas (pronounced “cash”) is considered one of the most beautiful towns on the Mediterranean coast. It’s central location, mellow atmosphere and huge range of adventure activities available has made Kas an ideal place to visit.

For divers, this is Turkey’s hub for underwater exploits with some excellent wreck diving just off shore. There is also a plethora of kayaking tours, paragliding, and hikes that can easily be arranged. Today is at your leaisure and you may choose from a variety of optional activities including:

  • Sea Kayaking (Full Day w/ Lunch) – $50/ person
  • Paragliding (1-2 hours) – $95/ person
  • Scuba Diving (Half-Day afternoon) $35/ person
  • Hiking the Lycian Way (Full-Day w/ Lunch) – $45/ person

INCLUDED:

  • Meals: Breakfast

Overnight at Medusa Hotel or similar

Day 11: Full Day Gulet Cruise (B, L)

Today, we’ll explore the southern coast of Turkey on a Gulet Ship! A Gulet Ship is a hand-crafted two-masted wooden vessel, traditionally made from local pine. They were long used for transport and fishing in the Aegean Sea and along the southern coasts of Turkey. We’ll enjoy a relaxing cruise and swimming in the clear blue sea while enjoying the wonderful panoramas of the coastline of Turkey.

Our host, Captain Osman, is not only in charge of your gulet, he’s also responsible for making sure you get the most enjoyment out of your cruise! Osman is a true Kas native. Born into a fishing family, he worked on his family’s boat since the age of 12. By the age of eighteen he was already a licensed seaman, and gained his captain’s license a few years later. Meanwhile, as Kas became known as a tourist destination, he also acted as a tour guide for foreigners hiking in this region, long before the Lycian Way was established. As a result you’ll find he’s on good terms with many of the locals on shore in the areas you’ll visit. Comfortable in English, he’ll give us background on the attractions we’ll visit – and perhaps a bit of storytelling!

Life on board the gulet will seem casual and carefree for guests, but the captain must still be responsible for everyone’s safety at all times and Osman has all of these qualifications.

INCLUDED:

  • Full-Day Gulet Cruise
  • Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Overnight at Medusa Hotel or similar

Day 12: Departure (B)

This morning, after breakfast, we’ll depart Kas for our return to Istanbul and this will be the end of our tour. As we say goodbye to our new friends, we’ll have lots of great memories to share when we get home!

INCLUDED:

  • Flight to Istanbul
  • Private Transportation
  • Meals: Breakfast

Depart Turkey

Not ready to leave? Your trip leader can help with travel arrangements to extend your adventure.  

What’s Included?

Comfort 3-4* hotel w/ breakfast, 11 nights
Local, English speaking guide(s)
All domestic flights
All transfers in itinerary by private, fully A/C coach
All entrance and parking fees
Dinner in a local’s home in Cappadocia
Hot Air Balloon Flight in Cappadocia
Full Day Gulet Cruise w/ lunch
Meals indicated in the itinerary (B=Breakfast L=Lunch D=Dinner); 11 breakfasts, 6 lunches
Local Taxes

What’s Not Included?

Roundtrip international airfare to Istanbul
Beverages & Meals not specified
Optional Activities
Gratuities
Personal Expenses
Travel Insurance

 

Trip Length
11 Nights/ 12 Days
Travel Style
Comfort
Physical Grading
All Ability Levels
Price
Starting at $2395
Accommodations