If you are arriving in Istanbul today, you will be met at the airport and transferred to the group hotel. A meeting will be held this evening with your guide to introduce the trip and meet with your fellow travellers.
An exciting day of discovery as your guide introduces you to Istanbul's famous sites; all are close to the old part of town - Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. Istanbul, formerly known as Constantinople, was the hub of the Ottoman Empire, and many of the grand buildings of this period are present today. The markets too, would be little changed from early times, a chaotic mix of goods and wares brought by people near and far to trade. Foods, clothing, jewellery, leather goods can be found at reasonable prices if you bargain. Late afternoon is at your leisure.
Today we leave Istanbul and drive to Gallipoli (Gelibolu) located on the Dardanelles Peninsula. This is a moving place and one cannot help but wonder at the tragedies that occurred in such a stunning location. We wander the national park housing many relics of the naval and land battles that took place in 1915 during World War One. Amongst other places, we visit Anzac Cove, the site of the first bungled ANZAC landing and Lone Pine, the largest graveyard memorial to those buried in unmarked graves or at sea. Then we take the ferry across to Canakkale for overnight. Transfer Time: 5/6 h; Transfer Distance: 345 km.
Today we leave Canakkale and drive to Selcuk. Along the way we visit the famous site of Troy. This archaeological site is believed to be a series of cities built in succession and is the site of the Trojan War. With a little imagination it is not too difficult to establish what the city, now UNESCO World Heritage listed, would have been like during its peak. We continue to Selcuk for overnight. Transfer Time: 6/7 h; Transfer Distance: 395 km.
Today we visit the ancient city of Ephesus. With the exception of Pompeii, Ephesus is the largest and best-preserved ancient city around the Mediterranean. The first half of our morning at this exceptional site will be with our guide who will bring to life the various rooms and buildings, and following this there will be ample time to further absorb the site at your leisure. After visiting Ephesus, we drive to Pamukkale for overnight. Transfer Time: 3/4 h; Transfer Distance: 190 km.
After breakfast we explore Pamukkale. The travertines form shallow pools supported by stalactites created by lime deposits from thermal waters that have cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years. The resulting myriad of pools and terraces is extraordinary. As the water overflows from the pools, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that, from afar, resemble cotton or snow. White pools are full with hot-spring water that is said to have healing powers for circulation and digestive systems. Just next to Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis, built in the 2nd Century B.C., and later became a health centre. In the afternoon we leave Pamukkale, and drive to Fethiye for overnight. Transfer Time: 4/5 h; Transfer Distance: 230 km.
The beginning of our hike is in Kayakoy, originally named “Karmilassos”. This is an old Greek village that was given up at the beginning of the 20th century. After the visit to the village we walk for about 2 to 3 hours along a forest trail which offers a splendid panorama. We walk directly down to the crystal clear waters and beaches of Oludeniz ‘Blue’ Lagoon before our transfer to Kas for overnight. Walking time: 2/3 h; Walking Distance: 6/7 km; Ascent: 200m; Descent: 300m (Kayakoy – Oludeniz Lagoon). Transfer Time: 2/3 h; Transfer Distance: 110 km.
In the morning, a short transfer to the Kekova area. Today we will enjoy the turquoise waters of Mediterranean by boat. We start cruising to the village of Kale where we plan to explore the ruins of ancient Simena and the medieval Byzantine fortress set above the village. Further time will be spent on Kekova Island where the shoreline boasts Byzantine foundations and ruins partly submerged in the sea. This is known as the sunken city. Following a swim and exploration of the sunken city by land we continue on to Ucagiz, an unspoilt fishing village with white washed houses dotted with Lycian tombs. Return to Kas for overnight.
We leave Kas after breakfast and drive to Antalya. Along the way we visit the township of Demre, famous for the ruins of Myra with its Lycian rock-hewn tombs and a Roman theatre. In the afternoon we continue onto the beautifully located ruined Lycian city of Phaselis. We overnight in the Mediterranean town of Antalya. Transfer Time: 3/4 h; Transfer Distance: 190 km.
After breakfast, we drive to Konya to visit the Whirling Dervishes Museum. Known to the west as the Whirling Dervishes, the members of the Mevlevi order had a prolific impact throughout the Ottoman Empire in classical ptry, calligraphy, visual arts and music. Afterwards we visit Sultanhani, the largest Caravanserai in the country. Overnight in Cappadocia. Transfer Time: 7/8 h; Transfer Distance: 495 km.
Cappadocia is an extraordinary geological area in central Turkey - reminiscent of a lunar landscape pitted with small volcanic craters, vast barren plateaus and steep jagged cliffs. Only an occasional oasis laying low in semi fertile valleys fed by mineral laden volcanic soil breaks its moonlike landscape. Several centuries ago the Christians hid from encroaching Arab, Persian and Roman forces by building underground cave-like cities linked by secret tunnels. Only when it was safe to surface did the people tend to their fields above. Some of the cities descend some 21 stories. We explore the Museum of Goreme, one of the area's most interesting sights with some of the best preserved frescs in Cappadocia. Afterwards, we start walking in the Meskendir Valley, which is full with old cave houses and complexes from the old Christian civilisation. Next we cross over to the beautiful Red and Rose Valleys with its spectacular formations and colours where, time permitting, there is an opportunity to visit some hidden churches. Afterwards, optional visits can be made to a pottery centre to learn the 5000 yr old traditions of this craft; and to a carpet workshop, where the knotted or flat woven (kilim) carpets are among the best known art forms produced by the Turks. There are environmental, sociological, economic, and religious reasons for the art of carpet weaving among the Turkish people. Some of these are incorporated into the colourful carpet designs. Walking time: 4/5 h; Walking Distance: 9 km; Ascent: 85m; Descent: 135m (Meskendir Valley; Red & Rose Valley).
This morning we drive to Ihlara, enroute we visit the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu. Then we visit Ihlara Canyon area for a beautiful half day walk. Ihlara is one of the best hiking areas in the region and home to a river that has gouged a 100m vertical gorge through this valley. Here the trees, birds and acoustics of water offer a very pleasant walk as well as a good taste of ancient Christian life. We will have time to visit a couple of churches and have lunch at Belisirma before we visit the Selime Monastery, one of the largest in the region. Return to Cappadocia for overnight. Walking time: 3/4 h; Walking Distance: 8 km (Ihlara - Belisirma). Transfer time: 1/2 h; Transfer Distance: 95 km.
After breakfast, we continue our exploration of this fascinating region. First we climb Uchisar Fortress, which is the highest point of Goreme and has panoramic views of the surrounding area. Next we walk in the White Valley or ‘Love Valley’ as it is sometimes known. We continue to Cavusin, from where we start our walk amongst fascinating rock formations and with magnificent views to the fairy chimneys at Monk’s Valley (Pasabaglari) down below. Our walk concludes with a visit to the Zelve Monastery Valley and open air museum. Next we drive to the interesting triple capped fairy chimneys in Pasabaglari. Afterwards there is the option to enjoy a traditional Turkish bath or discover local handicrafts. Farewell Dinner with a local family in Cappadocia.
Walking time: 2/3 h; Walking Distance: 6 km; Ascent: 0m; Descent: 280m; (White Valley).
Walking time: 2/3 h; Walking Distance: 4 km; Ascent: 60m; Descent: 70m; (Cavusin – Zelve - Pasabaglari).
Trip arrangements conclude this morning after breakfast.