- A six-night stay at the fabulous Yunak Evleri cave hotel in the heart of Cappadocia
- A unique programme of walks and activities to discover the region’s history valleys rock towers and cave dwellings
- Iconic balloon ride, pre-booked
- An introduction to historic Istanbul, from centrally located hotels
Welcome to Turkey! Today you arrive in Istanbul, one of the most important and inspiringly beautiful cities of the world’s history. We have no activities scheduled for today, so you are free to arrive anytime.
Premium accommodation: Kent Hotel, Istanbul (4 star)
We start our Turkish experience with a calligraphy lesson where we learn the secrets of creating rich patterns on handmade marble paper and experience the sensuous flow of Ottoman calligraphy in the company of our highly skilled artist-craftsman. Participation enables the school to be able to have the funds to continue supporting this retention of this ancient skill in the community.
For lunch we have arranged a fabulous introduction to Turkish food, with a meal of Ottoman cuisine at the Matbah restaurant. Centrally located, with excellent views of the city of Istanbul.
Late afternoon we transfer to the airport for our 1h 15m flight to Kayseri.
This morning is our chance to take part in Cappadocia’s most iconic activity – an early morning hot air balloon ride. We have pre-booked slots for each group member, but to allow for possible weather-related delays or even cancellations, will arrange for final confirmation and payment through your leader for those that wish to take part.
It’s an early start and a short transfer, but the ride lasts for approximately 1h 15m, and is completed with a cold glass of champagne.
After late breakfast, we continue our programme for the day. We start with a gentle climb up through the tunnels of Uchisar rock for a striking panoramic view, then continue to the extraordinary Goreme Open Air Museum to see the painted churches and troglodytic monastic dwellings. This afternoon we drive to the rabbit warren-like village of old Cavusin and walk through the colourful Rose Valley with its rock-cut churches, viewpoints, and stunning vistas to end at Sunset Point.
We set off on foot along the scenic Pigeon Valley trail walking downhills from Uchisar to Goreme. Pigeon valley is named after the many dove cotes that have been carved into the dwellings. From Goreme, we will drive to Kaymakli to explore the cellars, stables and houses of this underground city, before continuing on to the beautiful Soganli Valley for a taste of off the beaten track Cappadocia.
For lunch, we have arranged a visit to a local family for a cooking experience. This activity offers a lovely opportunity to discover the local home-cooked food and way of life, in a shared experience. The leader will be on hand to help with translations and demonstrations. We will return to our hotel in the mid-afternoon.
Today we walk through the White Valley. It is a little more challenging than the other hikes, but it is one of our favourites. From Uchisar, we descend into a valley of smooth snow-white rock faces and follow an uneven riverbed along the valley floor before entering Love Valley with its archetypal Cappadocia views and fairy chimneys. The original name of this valley is ‘Valley of the Vines’ but it’s not hard to work out why it has been nick-named Love Valley! After lunch, the afternoon will be at leisure.
After breakfast we explore the former monastic complex of Zelve, then we drive on to Pasabagi – one of Cappadocia’s most famous valleys.
For our walk, we drive to Goreme to begin our walk through the Sword and Red Valleys to the rock-hewn Kizlar Kalesi monastery. The path takes us through more jaw-dropping scenery, past the giant shards of rock that give Sword Valley its name, and on to the richly coloured rock formations that make Red Valley so remarkable.
After lunch, there is an option to join a Jeep Safari experience to take you a little further afield and to some hidden corners as the drivers take you through narrow canyons and to viewpoints.
In the late afternoon, we visit the historical Saruhan Caravanserai to see the Sema Ritual performed by Whirling Dervishes. This traditional performance has a deep cultural significance in Turkey and is a spectacular, spiritual and sometimes moving experience. The evening is free to make your own choice of dinner venue.
After breakfast, we start our day tour to Ihlara Valley and one of Cappadocia’s prettiest trails. With a length of 14 kilometres, the depth reaching up to 120 meters, it is the largest historically inhabited canyon in the world. Ihlara has hundreds of churches and shelters made by the easy excavation of the rocks surrounding the valley as well as the classic fairy chimneys. We finish with a visit to Selime Cathedral when we exit the valley.
The last stop of today’s tour is Avanos, the famous town of Cappadocia that was established by the Hittites on the riverbanks of Halys River. Making use of the red clay that is obtained from the shores of this famous river, the Hittites created outstanding examples of pottery ware and used potters’ wheels as early as 2nd millennia BC. We will visit one of the studios of a pottery artist of Cappadocia and watch the interactive presentation of creating masterpieces of pottery and ceramics.
Farewell Dinner at Elai restaurant, set near the stone-carved Uçhisar Castle, all of the tables overlook the green valleys.
This morning we will be transferred to the airport for our flight to Istanbul. We arrive in Istanbul and transfer to our central hotel. There will be an option for a Turkish Bath experience at the historical and the luxurious 16th century Hurrem Sultan Hamam.
For those who wish to explore the more classic sights of Istanbul, or leader will offer walking maps and suggestions, or can help you pre-book some guided experiences.
Farewell Dinner at Hamdi Restaurant, famous for its traditional southeastern kebabs and is the place to go for this famous Turkish dish. The popular restaurant is situated in the historic Eminönü district (West of Sultanahmet) and offers stunning views over the Golden Horn.
After breakfast we say our goodbyes.
- 8 nights premium hotels at central locations
- 5 days leisurely/moderate centre-based walking
- Travel by internal flights and air-conditioned minibus
- Countries visited: Turkey
- 8 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners
- Premium accommodation throughout
- Full programme of activities as shown in the itinerary
- Tipping for all hotel, drivers and local staff
- Named tour leader, chosen for their expertise and great customer feedback
- Internal flights between Istanbul and Kayseri
- Arrival & departure transfers
Images courtesy of Exodus Travel
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