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Eastern Turkey Tour (15 Days)

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Slider 1 Initial region East Turkey
Slider 1 Duration 15 Days
Slider 1 Language English
Slider 1 Price € 1.825 / person
Highlights
  • The cliff-hanging Byzantine Sumela monastery
  • Harvesting Tea with locals from tea farms & walking around hazelnut gardens
  • Exploring Karagol National Park on foot
  • Wandering around the evocative ruins of Ani on the Armenian border
  • Visiting the unique Ishak Pasha Palace & catching views of Mt Ararat
  • The markets and architecture of Mardin & Urfa
  • Fantastic sunset by the majestic heads of Mt. Nemrut
  • Eastern Turkey cousine influenced from borderline cousines.
Itinerary

Highlights of Eastern Turkey

A specious private tour of Remote Turkey

A world away from Turkey’s popular resorts, this exciting new eastern borderlands tour offers adventure, scenery and cultural interest on a grand scale. Our journey begins in the lush, towering and verdant mountains of the Black Sea region, close to Georgia, and concludes on the arid plains that stretch down towards Syria. On the way we shall find a complex mix of cultures both past and present. We visit some evocative and historically important sites, such as the ancient Armenian capital of Ani, the Byzantine masterpiece that is Sumela Monastery, the Ishak Paşa Palace, the architecture of Mardin and many seldom visited spots such as Lake Çildir and the remote Georgian churches and fortresses in the northeast. Mount Ararat at 5137m dominates the Iranian border and Lake Van, vast and mountain encircled, feeds the plains of Mezapotamia. Mount Nemrut houses 2200 years old giant statues of God and Goddess. With its broad vistas and dramatic scenery, fascinating history and culture, this trip gives a truly varied insight into a part of Turkey rarely seen by foreign visitors.

Day 1: Join Tour in Trabzon

The tour starts this evening in the mountainside Black Sea city of Trabzon. There should be time for a welcome drink before bed. Hotel

Day 2: Trabzon

After breakfast we drive east before heading inland, via the town of Macka, from where we will climb into the densely forested hills to the Greek Orthodox Sumela Monastery founded in Byzantine times. Dating from the 4th century this monastery is one of Turkey’s most iconic sights. We then descend to the coast and return to Trabzon, a truly ancient city, originally known as ‘Trebizond’. There is a beautiful and historically significant church near here called Aya Sophia, dating from the 13th century. Whilst not as grand as its namesake in Istanbul it certainly warrants a visit, keeping as it does a few quiet secrets.

Hotel (B, L, )

Day 3: Trabzon – Arhavi

Heading Along Blacksea coast, we pass through and over the dramatic Pontic Mountains - an area topographically defined by dense forests, rushing streams, wild rivers and by the splendid towering mountains. Not only Remote Greek castles and old Georgian churches are testament to the cultural history of the area which we will visit but also majestic tea farms and factories and local farmers and villages.

Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 4:  Arhavi- Savsat 

After an early visit to Çiftepugar tea farm, we pass near to the city of Artvin. New lakes will be created on two sides of this hillside city. Continuing on and up we plan on visiting the small mountain town of Meydancik, known for its old wooden houses and its traditional lifestyle. We shall overnight at Şavşat, (pronounced shavshat). This small town will be our base for a day’s exploration of the Georgian border area. Bears are still common in this area, unlike hotels!

Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 5: Savsat 

Today we shall get very close to the Georgian border and visit the Karagol (Black Lake) National Park. This area of high upland pastures dotted with villages and dense forests is home to many brown bears. In the autumn they like to forage for fruit. In particular they enjoy the orchards of the local villagers! We plan on walking in the park area both in forest and in the environs of the very attractive village and on to the lake itself. Wildflowers abound on the pastureland and the views are stunning. On the way we can also visit the once important church of Tibeti, now ruined but its location is still a treat to the senses. Later we’ll return to Şavşat

Hotel (B, L, D)

Day 6: Şavşat – Kars 

The first hour’s drive is a slow climb through a beautiful mix of forests and flower-strewn high meadows. Leaving the forests behind and crossing a pass over 2300m high we emerge into an area of high steppe cut by dramatic gorges. We plan to walk along the side of one such canyon to reach the ‘Devils Castle’- a small but beautifully situated fortress guarding one of the valleys that cuts through the steppe The surprising Lake Cildir is also on our route. We are now on the north-eastern plateau, at around 2,000m from which the mountains climb. After arriving in Kars we shall have time to wander through the town, giving us a chance to see the characteristic Russian architecture as well as the Armenian Church of the Twelve Apostles.. This area was occupied by the Russians during the late 19th century and British forces were besieged in Kars Castle during the Crimean war.

Hotel (B, L, )

Day 7: Kars – Ani – Kars

In the morning we visit one of the tour’s definite highlights - the ruined ancient city of Ani, which was the Armenian capital in the 9th century. The ruins are only 45 km away, right on the border with modern day Armenia, sitting above the Arpa river and controlling the crossing that was, at one time, an essential strategic point on an off-shoot of the Silk Route. The city became fabulously wealthy before, in the 11th century, when it was captured in quick succession by the Byzantine and the Turkish armies. This is an intriguing and memorable place and was, for many years, completely off- limits as it lay within the no-go area that surrounded the USSR. After lunch we arrive back to Kars and discover the city and builidings which was builg during 40 years Russian ocupacy in 1877.

Hotel (B, L, )

Day 8: Kars – Van

After an early start we drive to Doğubeyazıt to visit İshak Paşa palace with a view over the splendid Mt Ararat (we hope to get fine views of Ararat as we walk). This town with its combination of fortress, palace and pleasure-dome dates mostly from the 17th century. In the afternoon we shall continue on to Van and our journey will pass the high pastures used by the nomad tribes that live along the Iranian border.

Hotel (B, L, )

Day 9: Van – Tatvan 

The morning will be spent visiting the island of Aktamar, where there is a well documented Armenian church with the most ornate reliefs depicting scenes from the Old Testament. In the late morning we shall continue by boat, past a smaller island used by nesting birds, and on to a remote peninsula. Here a seldom visited church lies high above the bay. In a nearby village we plan on having lunch before climbing up to the church and then later we shall continue on to Tatvan at the western end of Lake Van.

Hotel (B, L, )

Day 10: Tatvan - Hasankeyf - Mardin 

Today we pass the stone houses and mosques of Bitlis, the regional capital before continuing on to the Batman river, still spanned by one of the largest stone bridges of its kind. Turning south towards the Syrian border area, we visit the ancient town of Hasankeyf. This town will, unfortunately, soon be flooded under the waters of a dam and so we will be able to learn what the local populace think about this first hand. In the afternoon we continue on to Mardin,a hillside town overlooking the plains of northern Syria.

Hotel (B, L, )

Day 11:  Mardin

After breakfast we have the chance to spend some time in the evocative, stone-built, hillside city of Mardin, home to Turkey’s few remaining Syrian Christians. The architecture here is both ornate and fascinating, particularly the mosques and churches. The old markets are also well worth a wander, down lanes between stone houses as they slope on down the hill. The museum is also quite beautiful with a great view. . There are also a number of monasteries still active in the area and we hope to be able to visit one of them. The local cuisine is also rightly famous and we intend on indulging ourselves accordingly!

Hotel (B, L, )

Day 12: Mardin-Gobeklitepe -Urfa 

Heading west across the hot plains we reach the old Crusader town of Edessa, now called Urfa. It is believed to be the birthplace of Abraham. Its labyrinthine bazaar is both inviting for its offer of cool shade and fascinating for its wares. The cuisine in this area has a reputation for being ‘fiery’. Its old medrasses (schools) lie next to ornamental lakes with their tea gardens, giving the appearance of a harmonious union between nature and architecture. We also visit Gobelitepe and overnight in Urfa.

Hotel (B, L, )

Day 13: Mount Nemrut – Arsemia Karakus

After breakfast we drive to Mount Nemrut region to visit Cendere bridge, Karakus Tumulus and Ancient city of Arsemia. Then we continue to 2134m high Mount Nemrut.  In 62 BC, King Antiochus I theos of Commagene built on the mountain top a tomb-sanctuary flanked by huge statues 8–9-metre-high (26–30 ft) of himself, two lions, two eagles and various Greek, Armenian, and Medes gods, such as Zeus-Aramazd or Oromasdes (associated with Zoroastrian god Ahura Mazda), Hercules-Vahagn, Tyche-Bakht, and Apollo-Mihr-Mithras. These statues were once seated, with names of each god inscribed on them standing over the 2100 years on the top of mountain .After watching sunset, we turn back to our pension located on the skirts of Mt.Nemrut.

Local Family Pension (B, L, D)

Day 14: Gaziantep

Today we leave for Gaziantep and visit Zeugma museum and try best south eastern Turkey cousines of Gaziantep. Antep kebab, içli köfte , lahmacun, baklava, antep pistachio comes from Antep through history. In the afternoon we check in to the hotel in Gaziantep. Gazintep has so many narrow-street bazaars for last day shopping and this afternoon is left to you free for relaxation and discovering the city on your own.

Hotel 4* Best Western Ravanda (B)

Day 15:  Gaziantep Airport transfer

Group Transfer to in Gaziantep Airport ( GZT ) airport code.

Included
  • English speaking expeirenced and enthusiactic guide
  • Meal plan as detailed in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
  • All transport as outlined in the itinerary.
  • All accommodation
  • All entrance fees, as per itinerary.
Excluded
  • Visas
  • Local airport taxes
  • Tips to locals
  • Beverages & any personal costs
  • Meals not planned as detailed in itinerary
  • International & Domestic Flights
Trip Information

Duration: 15 Days
Average group size:2 – 14
Start: All year around, private departure

Any accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is subject to availability and if not available substitutes will be of a similar quality.

Accommodation will be in a combination of hotels and local pensions.

Transport on the itinerary will be by ac. minibus

Trip Grading:

Adventure Rating ❖❖❖❖❖    Comfort Grade ❖❖❖❖❖       

Activity Level ❖❖❖❖❖           Cultural Interest ❖❖❖❖❖

Please note that this grading is an indication only and should you have any concerns please contact the office.

Insurance: Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. We work with Turkish travel insurance and all clients are insured during the tour via Tursab and all vehicles have insurance

Responsible Travel: Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that we have been committed to since we were founded. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to dossiers and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit.

Climate: Eastern Turkey where has high altitude generally cool (around 18 degrees Celsius) and dry, though as we will be spending significant time in the mountains you should come prepared for all eventualities, including cool nights and some rain depending on season.

 

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