Turkey The Wonderland

15 days

 

Day 1: Arrive Istanbul

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 – Gallipoli – Çanakkale

We leave Istanbul early this morning and drive towards Gallipoli (4 hours) to visit the Gallipoli Peninsula - a place of enormous significance to Australians and New Zealanders. 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, we can view the Allied troops goal - the Dardenelles. We can look down upon the rough and barren hills and gullies 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 cross the Dardanelles and reach Çannakale, 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). Upon arrival in Çanakkale the remainder of the day is 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.

Meals included: 1 breakfast

 

Day 3: Çanakkale – Troy – Selçuk

After breakfast we make an early start for a drive to 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 a city mentioned only in 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. We then go on 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. An orientation tour familiarises us with Selçuk, a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient fortress on Ayasoluk Hill. We spend the night in a hotel in Selçuk and have a chance to reflect and fully comprehend the history and splendour of our day’s discoveries.

Meals included: 1 breakfast

 

Day 4: Ephesus – Pamukkale

Today we explore Ephesus, possibly the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world and definitely a highlight of our 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 coming 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. Nearby is the last home of the Virgin Mary, who as legend has it came here accompanied by St John and lived out her days in this beautiful spot. After a lunch break we drive to Pamukkale, also known as 'Cotton Castle' and a truly unique sight. We spend our night in a hotel in Pamukkale.

Meals included: 1 breakfast

 

Day 5: Pamukkale – Fethiye

Today we explore Pamukkale. 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 then descend on 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 wonderful views from a waterfront restaurant.

Meals included: 1 breakfast

 

Day 6: Dalyan – Fethiye

Today we drive to the riverside town of Dalyan. Once an old farming town, the region surrounding Dalyan is a highly fertile and productive agricultural zone. Cotton is grown extensively in the area as well as many varieties of fruit and vegetables. Much of town centres around Dalyan Çayý River which flows past the town. Above the river's sheer cliffs are the weathered façades of Lycian tombs cut from rock, circa 400 AC. To the south of Dalyan on the Mediterranean coast, lies Iztuzu Beach, which is a popular area for sunbathing and swimming. We take a boat trip through the reed labyrinth river to the Iztuzu beach. a natural nesting area for the endangered Careta-Careta (loggerhead) turtles and a protected area. After our relaxing day, we return to Fethiye for the night.

Meals included: 1 breakfast

 

Day 7: Kayaköy – Kas

We farewell Fethiye this morning and drive through pine forest to the Greek ghost town of Kayakoy. Once a thriving township with a population of 3,500, until in 1923 when Ataturk instituted the exchange program with Greece, where itinerant Greek and Turkish populations were repatriated to their country of origin. Kayakoy, in 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 an incredibly eerie feel. Afterwards, we continue to Xanthos, a unique Lycian site which was once the capital city of the Lycian Federation. It is home to some fascinating sarcophagi, as well as a Byzantine church with stunning mosaics. Due to its remoteness, Xanthos is usually not overrun by tourists and the place has retained a tranquil atmosphere.
We end the day in the seaside town Kas (pronounced 'karsh'). The town has charming whitewashed houses graced with bougainvilleas and an ancient Greek theatre. This quaint fishing village is a wonderful place to sample the local cuisine of the region. We have two nights in Kas to soak up the atmosphere. We recommend you to taste ‘mama's pastry’ at the delightful Bi Lokma restaurant.

Meals included: 1 breakfast

 

Day 8: Kekova Boat Cruise - Kas

Today we explore the stunning islands, bays and ancient cities of Kekova on a relaxing day cruise on a gulet boat . As we sail amongst the peaceful and picturesque islands along Turkey’s Mediteranean coastline, we will discover very distinctive geological rock formations as well as ancient houses that have been submerged under the crystal clear waters. Our cruise also takes us to the settlement of Ucagiz and the ancient village of Simena. From Simena’s castle, we can enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding area. We sail from large bays into beautiful protected inlets with plenty of opportunity to enjoy some swimming off the boat. All in all, a day of relaxation and beautiful vistas in a truly spectacular partof Turkey.

Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch

 

Day 9: Kas – Phaselis – Antalya

After breakfast we continue on to 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 then continue to the coastal city of Antalya one of the best-known classical sites in Turkey.

Meals included: 1 breakfast

 

Day 10: Aspendos – Konya

A highlight of our day in Antalya, is a visit to the beautifully preserved theatre at Aspendos - one of the finest in the ancient world. We then take a five hour drive to Konya, where we spend the night. 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. Please note that Konya is a very religious town, so it is best that we dress conservatively during our time here.

Meals included: 1 breakfast  

 

Day 11: Ihlara – Derinkuyu – Cappadocia

We farewell Konya and drive on to the village of Belisirma in the Ihlara Valley located on the slopes of Mount Hasan; one of the volcanoes responsible for the forming of Cappadocia. From here we embark on a wonderful three and a half hour hike along the Melendiz River and experience traditional village life, as we walk through the beautiful Ihlara Valley to the village of Ihlara. There are dozens of fascinating Byzantine cave chapels to explore along the way and most of them are decorated with exquisite biblical frescoes. Later in the day we drive to the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu, with some dwellings containing rooms that expand seven levels beneath ground level! We then drive to Cappadocia is an extraordinary region that has bewitched travellers’ for centuries. It was formed a millennium ago as volcanic ash first settled, then hardened into soft rock, and finally eroded, forming the strange and fantastic spires, domes, pinnacles and gorges that we will discover during the few next days. We end the day at our hotel in Goreme. This evening there is the option of enjoying a traditional Turkish bath to unwind from the day’s activities.

Meals included: 1 breakfast

 

Day 12: Cappadocia – Goreme

After a relaxing breakfast we take a walk toward the Love valley, where its magnificently sculptured, phallic rock formations have created one of the most surreal valleys of Cappadocia. Small valleys, cones, peaks and fairy chimneys blend harmoniously with fascinating caves. In the afternoon we drive to the unique Pasabaglar 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 the region and visit a carpet workshop were we will be fascinated by the beauty of the carpets, a tradition that reveals the nomadic origins of the Turkish people. 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.

Meals included: 1 breakfast

 

Day 13: Cappadocia – Ankara - Overnight train to Istanbul

This morning we visit the Göreme Open Air museum a fascination complex of medieval painted cave churches carved out by rock. 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 fascinating Byzantine cave chapels to explore, most of them decorated with exquisite and colourful biblical frescoes. We then leave the fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia behind and 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. We arrive in Ankara where in the evening we board the overnight train for Istanbul in our comfortable twin berth cabins.

Meals included: 1 breakfast

 

Day 14: Istanbul

We arrive into Istanbul early this morning off our overnight train and transfer to our hotel. 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, 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. A free afternoon enables us to further explore this fantastic city. 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.

Meals included: 1 breakfast  

 

Land cost includes:

  • All transfers, Transportations. Midi-bus 27 pax capacity
  • All Hotels BB. 3 star and 4 star  BB
  • Bilingual English speaking guide
  • Boat Trip in Kekova  lunch included.
  • Entrance fees of museum and historicial site
  • Night Train Ankara-istanbul double bert (slepper train)

 

Land cost does not include:

  • Domestic and internationel flights
  • Lunch and dinner .
  • Insurance

 

For price details and more information, please contact us

 

 

FRANÇAIS

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