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.
Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul was the hub of the Ottoman Empire and many of the grand buildings of this period are still present. Today we will explore the old Sultanahmet Area. It would be easy to spend a week in this city and still not have seen all the sights. We will visit the Hagia Sophia and the Hippodrome square (obelisks), both located within walking distance of our hotel. Rest of the afternoon at leisure.
An exciting day of discovery as your guide introduces you to more of Istanbul's famous sights; all are close to the old part of town - Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. The markets are little changed from early times, with 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.
In the late afternoon or early evening we will drive to Ataturk Airport (Istanbul) for our flight to Kayseri (or Nevsehir). Overnight hotel in Kayseri. (Please note: flight is subject to availability and schedule changes. On some occasions it may be necessary to fly to the smaller airport of Nevsehir, also in the Cappadocia region).
Kayseri is located at the foot of the extinct volcano Mount Erciyes, and is a city rich in historical monuments from the days of Seljuk's and Ottomans. After breakfast, we will walk through Kayseri's old city centre, where we will see the remains of the old Citadel and its walls, and an 800 year old covered bazaar. It is also possible to see some of the most impressive mosques of Central Anatolia, which are masterpieces from the Seljuk period - Kursunlu mosque, Hunat mosque and the Burunguz mosque.
In the afternoon, we drive to the Aladaglar National Park. We pack our trek luggage into the kit bags that will be loaded onto our mules. Any excess luggage not required on the trek will be stored securely for collection again on Day 10. Walking time/distance: 2-3 hrs; Ascent: 300m / Descent: 50m. Driving time/distance: 2 hrs, 125 kms.
This morning we hike up to Mangirci Gorge via Emli Valley, and climb up to Alaca Yayla (Plateau) with spectacular views of the southern Aladaglar region. After lunch, we descend down to our campsite in the Emli Valley passing the old semi-nomadic camp of Oluksekisi. During summer, semi-nomadic families can be seen here with their livestock. Walking time: 5-6 hrs. Ascent/Descent: 650m.
This morning you will walk up to the Siyirmalik Valley through its elegant forest of fir trees, and climb up via the pastures of the Eznevit Plateau until we reach the highest point on this pass (2538m). It is a truly picturesque region and we will take a break for lunch here with time to absorb the scenery and magnitude of the mountain landscape. From here, we continue walking towards the Sakartas Pass (2300m), and then descend to Sokulupinar where we overnight at the campsite. Walking time: 6-7 hrs; Ascent: 788m / Descent: 538m.
After breakfast we head up to Karayalak Valley and climb up to Celikbuyduran Pass (3450m). Today is our toughest day of walking as we will ascend for about 5 hours. Just before the Pass there is a small spring. With clear, sparkling mountain water this makes an ideal place for a short break. After the pass we will descend down to our camp on the Seven Lakes (Yedigoller) Plateau (3100m). Over a cup of tea at the camp we can reminisce on a stunning day of activity. Walking time: 7-8 hrs, Ascent: 1450m / Descent: 350m.
Today's climb to the summit of Mt Emler is optional, starting and finishing at our base camp on the Seven Lakes Plateau. It is, however, well worth the effort with 360o vistas over the surrounding ranges. To commence we climb to the Celikbuyduran Pass (3450m) and ascend from there for about an hour to the Mt Emler summit (3723m). From the peak it is possible to see Mt Erciyes (3917m) to the north, Mt Hasan (3268m) to the west, the Bolkar Range to the south and all the main peaks of the Aladaglar Range. Weather permitting we will enjoy a picnic lunch on the summit before descending via the same route to our camp. Walking time: 5-6 hrs, Ascent/Descent: 623m.
We leave our camp in the early morning and walk towards the second biggest lake of the area, and then climb up to the Teke Kalesi Pass (3517m). We take a short break to take in the incredible panoramic views over the Seven Lakes area below. We descend down green pastures via a narrow path via Yildiz (Star) Lake to our campsite at Karagol. Walking time: 7-8 hrs, Ascent: 417m / Descent: 717m.
This morning, we will walk down small roads that service local mines and little creeks via Maden gorge to Pinarbasi village, where we will meet our vehicle which will transfer us to the village of Demirkazik for lunch, before we drive to Cappadocia.
In the late afternoon it is possible to take a leisurely exploration of the towns of Urgup and Goreme, with their small handicraft shops, pleasant cafes and tea houses.
Walking time: 3 hrs, Descent: 400m. Driving time/distance: 2 hrs, 125 kms.
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. Today 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.
Walking time/distance: 2-3 hrs, 6 kms; Descent: 280m (White Valley).
Walking time/distance: 2-3 hrs, 4 kms; Ascent: 60m / Descent: 70m (Cavusin Zelve - Pasabaglari).
After breakfast, we continue our exploration of this fascinating region. First 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/distance: 4-5 hrs, 9 kms; Ascent: 85m / Descent: 135m (Meskendir Valley; Red & Rose Valley).
This morning we drive to Ihlara, enroute we visit the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu (8 levels connected by a series of tunnels, extending to a depth of 64m under the ground). Carved in ancient times as a shelter during periods of siege and continuous raids, this huge hidden city under the plains of Central Anatolia can best be described as "Swiss Cheese"!
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. Afterwards we drive back to Cappadocia.
In the afternoon, we will be treated to a performance of the Vuslat Sema Whirling Dervishes of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi. The Sema ceremony symbolises the mystical journey of a man's spiritual growth through mind and love to perfection. Afterwards we return to our hotel and enjoy a farewell dinner in Cappadocia.
Walking time: 3-4 hrs; Walking Distance: 8 km (Ihlara - Belisirma). Transfer time: 1/2 h; Transfer Distance: 95 km.
Trip arrangements conclude this morning after breakfast.