Highlights of Eastern Turkey

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Create your own intimate tour of Turkey. Caravan-Serai’s tours are always much more personal, getting you even closer to the people and cultures we are visiting. And we make sure we use comfortable, air conditioned buses, with room for everyone to spread out and relax in between stops.

We are mostly staying in smaller boutique hotels, often found in the center of the historical districts, and located in older buildings that have been renovated. Our lunches and dinners will be at local restaurants – where the locals dine, not tourist-oriented venues.

It’s our mission to provide you with an experience of a lifetime, and we are good at what we do.

Day 1: Welcome to Turkey!

Arrive in Istanbul and we will be transferred to the hotel for overnight.

Day 2: Istanbul – Kayseri – Cappadocia

After breakfast transfer to the airport for our flight to Kayseri. Upon arrival in Kayseri we will transfer to visit the old Christian village of Cavusin. Afterwards we will visit Pigeon Valley, and then experience the intriguing Underground City of Kaymakli and then on to Ortahisar, a castle carved out of the living rock. (Optional Balloon tours are available at extra cost). Overnight in Cappadocia.

Day 3: Cappadocia

After breakfast we will begin our exploration of the region of Cappadocia. We will see the Devrent Valley, Zelve Open-Air Museum and Monk’s valley (Pasabagi) where you will see the famous “fairy chimneys.” Break for lunch in Avanos and then continue on to the Goreme Open-Air Museum, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, to visit the numerous rock carved churches and monasteries. Afterwards we depart for a panoramic view of Esentepe and then on to Uchisar, a natural rock castle. Return to our hotel for overnight.

Day 4: Adiyaman

After breakfast we will check out and depart for Nemrut Mountain in Adiyaman, famous throughout Turkey for its enigmatic summit – top statues of the gods. These unforgettable monuments will be seen in the late afternoon – a spectacular vision at sunset. Today is a long drive but we will have plenty of stops to stretch our legs and take photos. Overnight in Adiyaman.

Day 5: Gaziantep

Today we will drive to Gaziantep on the southern border of Turkey. This region is a center of pistachio nut cultivation in Turkey, and has extensive olive groves and vineyards. The area was also a crossroads for the Assyrians, Persians, Romans, the Byzantines, Abbasid and the Seljuk Turks. Sites to see in Gaziantep include the Old City, fortress, museum, an open air museum, sculpting school, and many workshops of traditional crafts. Overnight in Gaziantep.

Day 6: Urfa

After breakfast we depart for Urfa. On our way we will stop to see the Ataturk Dam. This is part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), a massive hydro- electric and irrigation project on the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In Urfa we will have lunch and then enjoy some sightseeing. Urfa is called the city of prophets for its biblical connections. After a stop off at the castle with Roman columns we will visit the “Pool of Sacred Carp” and then on to the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham. In the late afternoon we will visit the on going archaeological dig at Gobekli Tepe. Although this site is not widely known it is one of the most important archaeological digs currently being undertaken. It represents a major shift in our understanding of man’s early history: here lie the remains of the earliest religious structures built by man yet to be discovered. At about 11000-13000 years old they pre-date pottery, writing, Stonehenge and the Pyramids! Overnight Urfa.

Day 7: Mardin

This morning we depart for Diyarbekir and Mardin, with a stop in Harran on the way. Harran is a famous city from ancient Mesopotamian times: a mystical and ancient place of “bee hive” houses built of mud brick. Genesis speaks of this town as the place where Abraham and his family lived. It is also the site of the first Islamic University of the world. Continue on to Diyarbekir. At least 5000 years old, Diyarbekir is one of the oldest cities in the world, encircled by a massive parapet built of jet-black blocks of basalt. It is a city based on a Roman plan with four gates. A tour takes us to the fortification walls, the ancient walls of Diyarbekir. There will also be time to visit Ulu the (Great) Mosque from the Seljuk period, and the 3rd century Aramaic Church of the Virgin Mary. Continue to Mardin for overnight.

Day 8: Diyarbakir

This morning we check out and begin our day with a tour of Mardin: located on a high hill overlooking the plains of southern Turkey and Syria. We will visit Deir-Al-Zafaran (the Saffron Monastery), center of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchy and still an active monastery. After lunch drive to Hasankeyf, situated by the Tigris River. Soon to be submerged under the flood waters of a new dam on the Tigris, Hasankeyf has hundreds of caves, hidden waterways, tombs, a larger and smaller Palace, as well as ruins of the Great Mosque.

Day 9: Tatvan

After visiting Hasankeyf we drive to Tatvan for diner and overnight. After breakfast we depart for Van. On the south eastern shore of Lake Van we find Nemrut Mountain (not to be confused with Nemrut Dagi in Adiyaman) rising above Tatvan. The highest peak of the mountain stands at 3050 meters. The volcanic cone was belived to have originally been higher. It was at 4450 meters before its eruption. The last time it was active was in 1440 BC. There are five lakes within the crater, one of which we will visit, are wonderfully different. The Cold Lake (13 sq.kms) has an average depth of 100 meters. The Hot Lake has a visible amount of steam rising from its thermal springs. The heat may reach up to 60 degrees centigrade! We will see and visit with the nomadic people who spend their summers around Nemrut Crater Lake. (Maybe a picnic at the crater). After our visits we continue on to Van via Akdamar Island, with its ancient Armenian Church of the Holy Cross. Overnight in Van.

Day 10: Erzurum

Today we go to Dogubeayzit via the waterfall at Muradiye. The road to Dogubeyazit contains numerous views of Mt. Ararat with its permanently snow capped peak rising above fertile plains. Just outside Dogubeyazit, Ishak Pasha’s pleasure palace sits on a hill to the east of the old town over looking the plains of Ararat, the final resting place of Noah’s Ark and the setting place for the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh. Continue on to Erzurum for overnight.

Day 11: Trabzon

Depart after breakfast for Trabzon, on the Black Sea coast. Once we are in Trabzon we will visit the Trabzon Ayasofya Church (Turkish: Ayasofya Müzesi), a monastery church constructed between 1238 – 1263 at the time of the King Manuel of the Trabzon Kommenos Empire. When Trabzon was conquered by Fatih Sultan Mehmet, the building was first converted into a mosque and then eventually into a museum. Next we will visit the Atatürk Kö?kü, the villa museum where Atatürk had stayed when he visited Trabzon in 1924. Overnight in Trabzon.

Day 12: Trabzon – Rize – Trabzon

Today we will have a full day excursion to the city of Rize. It is in a tea-growing region where the bright green tea bushes cover the mountain sides. In the city the 16th century Islam Pasha Mosque and the remains of a Genoese castle can be seen. We will explore this picturesque area, enjoy its famous tea, then return to Trabzon for overnight.

Day 13: Trabzon – Istanbul

Time permitting, we will do some more sightseeing before out flight back to Istanbul. Overnight in Istanbul.

Day 14: Istanbul

After breakfast we will depart for a half day tour of Istanbul. Our tour will include the Haggia Sophia Basilica and Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque of Sultan Ahmet. The rest of the day is free to explore on your own. Overnight in Istanbul.

Day 15:

Transfer to Istanbul airport

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Includes:

  • Air conditioned midibus with 31 seats with a microphone
  • Accommodation in boutique or 4 star hotels
  • 14 Breakfasts at hotels
  • 14 lunches out side of the hotel
  • 14 dinner at our side of the hotel
  • Istanbul – Kayseri domestic flight
  • English speaking guiding services throughout the journey
  • Historical sites entrance fee
  • Parking fees in each historical sites
  • Hotel tips
  • 1 liter water on the bus per person per day

Not Included:

  • Visa expenses to enter into the country
  • Personal expenses such as minibar, telephone call, etc.
  • Hot & cold drinks during the meals
  • International flights
  • Tips to the guide & driver

Suggested Hotels:

  • Istanbul Celal Sultan or similar
  • Cappadocia Buket Cave Hotel or similar
  • Adiyaman Zeus Hotel or similar
  • Gaziantep Granh Hotel Gaziantep or similar
  • Sanliurfa Robis Hotel or similar
  • Mardin Erdoba Houses Hotel or similar
  • Diyarbakir Dedeman Hotel or similar
  • Tatvan Kardelen Hotel or similar
  • Erzurum Palan Hotel or similar
  • Trabzon Sumela Hotel – Macka or similar

Minimum group size is 12 people.

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