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adventure travel trip to Turkey
The Sultanahmet mosque offers an age-old, elegant profile against Istanbul's sky
Dates
  • Jun 22-Jul 8, 2014
  • Sep 7-23, 2014
  • Privately on Request
  • Duration 17 days
    Group Size 6-12
    Land Cost $4,295 Details
    Single Supplement $635
    Lodging 2 stars-3 stars
    Grade I-II
    Best Time

    Cappadocia, Ephesus and the Coast

    Comprehensive itinerary includes the best-known sites and sailing on the Mediterranean

    Day 1      Arrive Istanbul

    Upon arrival at Istanbul Airport, you will be met and escorted to your hotel. Stay overnight in Istanbul in a lovely small boutique hotel.

    Meals: None
    Lodging: Amiral Palace, Lady Diana, or similar

    View of Ortakoy Mosque
    Day 2      Istanbul

    After a post-breakfast hotel pick-up, your journey begins in Istanbul, the only city in the world situated on two continents. Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul -- its three names span more than 2,600 years, nearly 1,600 of them as the capital of two of the greatest empires the world has known, the Byzantine and Ottoman. We visit the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Hippodrome, where chariot races and the Byzantine riots took place.  Later, visit the Grand Bazaar, a centuries-old fascinating warren of more than 4,000 (!) small shops filled with intriguing sights and scents, for shopping.  Although a good spot for travelers, it's also a flourishing hub for locals as well as import/export businesses.  Overnight in Istanbul.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Amiral Palace, Lady Diana, or similar

    Feast your eyes on the iconic Blue Mosque
    Day 3      Istanbul / Bosphorus

    Embark on a second day of exploring Istanbul, where today you'll investigate the intriguing watery depths of the 6th century Basilica Cistern. Afterward, you'll have some free time in the Spice Bazaar (also known as the Egyptian Bazaar) with its domed and vaulted shops selling spices and herbs, a real treat that will engage all the senses.

    Later, head to the pier for a public ferry cruise on the Bosphorus.  Start the trip at the Golden Horn and sail along the waterway separating two continents, Asia and Europe, with marble palaces, old wooden villas of Ottoman architecture, and modern residential mansions along the way.  Stop in Sariyer district, an interesting blend of old and modern, and visit Ortakoy, more of a local destination. Ortakoy, once literally "the village in the middle" on the European side of the Bosphorus, is now among Istanbul's most eclectic, arty neighborhoods, with unusual boutiques, atmospheric cafes, cozy bistros, and great people watching. Afterward, return to your hotel; overnight in Istanbul.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Amiral Palace, Lady Diana, or similar

    Explore Istanbul's atmospheric Basilica Cistern
    Day 4      Istanbul / Dalaman / Fethiye

    After breakfast, transfer to Istanbul Airport for an hour and 20 minute flight to Dalaman and a short drive to Fethiye, where you'll meet your gulet, home for the next three nights, and depart in the late morning.

    Traveling by gulet (traditional two-masted wooden sailing vessel) is an evocative and relaxing way to experience Turkey's western Mediterranean coast.  After setting sail from Fethiye, there are opportunities to swim at Turunc Bay or Karacaoren before lunch is served, then the afternoon is spent sailing along the coast.  The gulet will moor for the night at St. Nicholas Island with its remains of an old settlement and its ancient church.  Some medieval sources claim that Nikolaos of Myra, known as Saint Nicolas (Santa Claus), lived here for some time; one of the island's churches has frescoes dedicated to him.  Watching the sunset on St. Nicholas Island offers a lovely end to a perfect day.

    Enjoy a quiet evening on board.  Weather permitting, you may even wish to sleep on a mattress on deck under the stars.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Onboard a lovely gulet (5 to 8 cabins)

    Check out fellow gulet travelers moored in a quiet cove
    Day 5      Oludeniz

    Breakfast is served on deck before continuing the cruise for Butterfly Valley, the Oludeniz area, and then on to Cleopatra’s Bay or Merdivenli Bay.  Oludeniz is Turkey's most famous beach with its beautiful blue lagoon. Butterfly Valley, just around the corner, is a conservation area for Jersey Tiger Moth butterflies.  The bays offer scenic, protected anchorage for yachts and gulets.  All of these areas also provide interesting opportunities for hiking verdant valleys and swimming in turquoise waters, whatever you prefer.

    The gulet will moor overnight in Sarsala Bay or Tasyaka.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Onboard a lovely gulet (5 to 8 cabins)

    Hike in lush Butterfly Valley
    Day 6      Yassicalar / Samanlik

    Today we sail to Tersane Island (once used as a ship dockyard during the Ottoman period) to swim, snorkel, or just laze in the sunshine. The island was inhabited in the past as evidenced by its many ruined houses, fruit trees, and goat herds. However, islanders migrated to Rhodes in 1922 after Greece and Turkey agreed to a foreign population exchange. There are also remains of two churches and a tomb that can be explored by the ambitious.

    After lunch, sail to Yassicalar (Flat Island), stop at Red Island or Samanlik Bay for a break, then head onward to Fethiye harbor, where you will spend a final night onboard before your adventure continues on land.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Onboard a lovely gulet (5 to 8 cabins)

    Aerial view of the Turquoise coast
    Day 7      Fethiye / Sirince

    Bid farewell to the gulet and her crew after breakfast, then drive to the Ephesus area, where you will spend two nights in the historic hilltop village of Sirince in a small family-owned boutique hotel.  The late afternoon and evening are yours at leisure.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Nisanyan Evleri or similar

    Get to know small-town Turkey at your Sirince boutique hotel
    Day 8      Ephesus

    Set off for Ephesus, where you will spend several hours exploring one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  One of the most splendid cities of its time, Ephesus had a commanding location at the mouth of the Cayster River, making it the foremost commercial city of the region.  As the river gradually changed course and the harbor silted up, Ephesus eventually lost its importance and was abandoned.  The best-preserved classical city on the eastern Mediterranean and among the best places in the world to get a feel for what what life was like in Roman times, Ephesus has been under excavation for more than 100 years.  You'll explore around, learn about, and marvel at the stunning ruins, including the Temple of Hadrian, the Library of Celsus, the Sacred Way, the Great Theater, the agora, the Gate of Hercules, and more.

    After visiting Ephesus,  stop at nearby Meryemana, by legend -- and later affirmed by Pope Paul VI -- the house of the Virgin Mary near the end of her life.  The house and its small shrine are visited by religious pilgrims, and the views of Ephesus and the surrounding countryside along the way are wonderful.

    Return to your inn at Sirince village, where the remainder of the afternoon and evening are yours at leisure.  You may wish to visit the ruins of the Church of St. John the Baptist to see its frescoes, wander the town's backstreets, see the lovely old houses, and poke your head into shops and homes selling locally-produced olive oil, wines, olive soap, handmade lace, and other finds.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Nisanyan Evleri or similar

    Imagine the rich past of Ephesus while climbing the theater steps
    Day 9      Sirince / Gokcealan

    Sirince is famous for its vineyards, fruits, and fruit wines, and today we will spend time exploring village farms together.   Also visit the Soke plain, a rich agricultural land, one of Turkey's largest cotton-growing areas, and also important for wheat and flour, as well as handicrafts, and forestry.

    Travel to Gokcealan  day's end, your base for the next two nights.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging: In a comfortable Turkish family home

    Visit Sirince's bazaar and local organic farms
    Day 10      Gokcealan

    Spend a relaxing day exploring village life in and around  famous for its Sultana grapes and hillsides full of citrus, olive, and fig trees, as well as cotton, wheat, and other crops.

    Gokcealan offers an attractive countryside of lazy charm with a pleasingly warm climate, the scent of oranges, and an impressive backdrop of mountains.  Return to your village hotel for the night.

     

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging: In a comfortable Turkish family home

    Discover Sirince and Gokcealan village life
    Day 11      Gokcealan / Pamukkale / Hierapolis

    Depart early for a drive to the lovely ancient spa town of Pamukkale, known for the curative powers of its waters as well as fabulous ruins.  Shortly after arriving, visit the ruins of ancient Hierapolis, where life in the early centuries of the modern era is brilliantly preserved.  See the Antique Pool, Temple of Apollo, Hellenistic Theater, Byzantine church, Roman baths, and magnificent necropolis.

    After visiting Hierapolis, check in at your Pamukkale hotel, a thermal hotel where you can enjoy the warm mineral waters and the settlement's sleepy village charm.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Oscar Boutique Hotel or similar

    Take the waters in the ancient spa town of Pamukkale
    Day 12      Pamukkale / Konya

    Head out early for Konya.  On arrival, have lunch and then set off to see the sights, including the Mausoleum of Mevlana, the world-wide famous mystic, and Karatay Theological School, known for its beautiful tiles.  Stay overnight in Konya, charming in its juxtaposition of old and new, ancient mosques and market mazes, orders of whirling dervishes and modern tea houses.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Sema Hotel or similar

    Enjoy Konya's contrasts of old and new, ancient and modern
    Day 13      Konya / Cappadocia

    Set off early on a full day adventure, beginning with a stop at the 13th Century Silk Road Sultanhan Caravanserai.  Afterward, drive to Cappadocia's surreal landscape of mountain-fringed high plateau, craggy mushroom and conic rock formations, and underground cities. Visit Urgup and its Three Sisters Fairy Chimneys in the heart of Cappadocia, then head on to Pigeon Valley in Uchisar, where people have carved pigeon houses and beehive homes into the rock. Afterward, descend into the spectacular 7th century underground city of Kaymakli, one of the largest and the deepest of some 200 ancient underground communities in Cappadocia.

    At day's end, check in at an interesting and atmospheric Cappadocia hotel, your base for the next three nights, and relax for the evening.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Gamirasu Cave Hotel or similar

    Experience life off the beaten track in Red Valley
    Day 14      Cappadocia

    Early this morning you may take an optional hot air balloon ride over the area (additional cost).  Return to your Cappadocia hotel in time for a leisurely breakfast.

    Later, drive to Mustafapasa through the tabletop mountains and small villages of Cappadocia.  In  Mustafapasa (known as Sinasos in Greek), there are many spectacular old Greek houses, very fine examples of late Greek settlements, and interesting architecture.

    In the afternoon vist the Goreme Open Air Museum to see the world famous cave churches with biblical frescoes from the 11th Century.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Gamirasu Cave Hotel or similar

    Float above rock valleys and amazing scenery in Cappadocia
    Day 15      Cappadocia

    Continue with your relaxing rural break, visiting small communities of friendly people, exploring rock-cut churches and caves, or simply studying rocky valleys from the comfort of the hotel grounds. 

    Stop for a ~three-mile walk to Cavusin Village through Rose Valley, one of the most attractive valleys of Cappadocia with its fabulous volcanic rock formations and ancient rock-cut hermit churches adorned with frescoes and paintings. Stop at Pasha's Vineyards to view best examples of Fairy Chimneys.

    Spend a final night at your hotel in Cappadocia before wrapping up your time in this fine area.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Gamirasu Cave Hotel or similar

    Find your own fantastical rock formations to explore
    Day 16      Cappadocia / Istanbul

    After breakfast, transfer to Kayseri Airport for your flight to Istanbul, where you'll be transferred to your Istanbul hotel on arrival.  If you're up for it, spend one final afternoon and evening exploring this alluring capital that spans two continents.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Amiral Palace, Lady Diana, or similar

    Take one last chance to wander around and explore Istanbul (view of Hagia Sophia)
    Day 17      Istanbul / Onward

    After breakfast, transfer to Istanbul's Ataturk Airport for your international flight.  Or contact us if you haven't had your fill of Turkish delights and allow us to arrange a trip extension designed just for you.

    Meals: Breakfast

    Leave this ancient, yet modern, city with fond memories


     
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