This is a 15-day tour that takes you to all the highlights of the Black Sea region and Eastern Turkey.
This is a private tour and the departure date can be any day.
We arrive at Trabzon Airport in the late morning, meet our guide, and drive to the Sumela Monastery. As we park our vehicle on the skirts of the hill upon which the monastery is built, we first have lunch at a restaurant and then take a 30 minutes hike up to the monastery, following a narrow hike path covered with pine trees. After our visit, we hike back and drive to Trabzon, spending the rest of the day at leisure. Dinner and overnight in Trabzon.
We check out, and visit St. Sophia Church before driving to the Ataturk Museum. As we are done with our visits in Trabzon, we drive to Rize, following a spectacular road with tea gardens on our right and the Black Sea on our left. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit a tea factory around Rize and drive back to Trabzon. Dinner and overnight in Trabzon.
On our way to Erzurum, we leave the Black Sea Coast, and start driving inland. We have lunch on arrival in Erzurum. This is Turkey"s highest elevated city, built at 1853 m (6200 ft.). More important are the finest examples of Selcuk architecture that can be seen here. After visiting Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, Rustem Pasha Bedesten, Ulu Mosque and the Cifte Minareli Medrese, we check-in our hotel where we will spend the night. Dinner and overnight in Erzurum.
After breakfast, we drive to Ani, via Kars. Ani dates back as far as the 5th century AD; and from 806 it served as the capital of Armenia. After our visits here, we drive to the center of Kars and visit Kars Castle. We will stay at the Kar"s Hotel, in where, Orhan Pamuk, Nobel prized Turkish writer, wrote his book called "Snow". Dinner & overnight in Kars.
Today we head on further south to Van via Dogubeyazit, where we visit the legendary Ishak Pasa Palace built towards the end of the 18th century by a powerful local family who were the de facto rulers of the area. We then drive further, past Mt. Ararat, which, according to ancient tradition, is the mountain on which Noah's Ark rested. Ararat consists of 2 peaks: Buyuk Agri (5165 m) and Kucuk Agri (3925 m). We visit the Muradiye waterfalls en route. Dinner and overnight in Van.
After a leisurely breakfast, today we visit the Fortress of Van and the museum. After lunch at a local restaurant, we head on to Hosap Castle and then to Cavustepe. Dinner and overnight in Van.
Departing early, we first visit Akdamar Church before driving further southwest to Midyat. En route, we stop by Hasankeyf, which was the capital of the Artuklu Seljucks in the period 1102-1232. It is well known for its structure and remains belonging to various Islamic reigns. Remains on both banks of the Tigris (Dicle) river will be submerged upon the completion of Ilusu Dam nearby. Salvation works were started in 1988. Though the original founders of the settlement are not known, scholars state that nearby caves were inhabited since prehistoric times. Dinner and overnight in Midyat.
We leave Midyat and drive South to Mardin, via the Tigris Bridge. On the outskirts of Mardin, we visit the still practicing Monastery of Mar Gabriel. As we drive back, we stop for lunch at Mardin, then drive further to Sanliurfa where we will spend the night. Dinner and overnight in Sanliurfa.
Genesis refers to Harran as Terha, the place to where Abraham took his wife and son, Lot. It is difficult to believe that this small settlement on the edge of the desert was once a major economic, religious, and cultural centre. Harran means "crossroads" and has been occupied since at least 2000 BC. Finishing our visit to Harran, we drive back to Sanliurfa to see the pool and the birthplace of Abraham. After lunch at a local restaurant, we head on the the highlight of the all trip; Gobeklitepe; The data, which were obtained as a result of the excavations continued uninterrupted since 1995 show that Göbeklitepe was a cult center, made by mankind and dated to approximately 12,000 years before present. It is composed of approximately 20 round and oval structures, reaching 30 m in diameter. 6 of them have been exposed in excavations and others were identified by surveys in geomagnetic and georadar methods. The results of excavations and surveys showed that Göbeklitepe was a 12,000 years old major meeting centre composed of monumental structures built for ceremonial purposes, instead of spaces of daily life. Dinner and overnight in Sanliurfa.
After breakfast, we leave Sanliurfa and drive to Kahta along a spectacular road, having lunch at Adiyaman. We stop for refreshment on the skirts of Mt. Nemrut before our 500 meter hike to the sanctuary. This is the magnificent funerary monument of the Commagene Antiochus I Theos. We arrive to our hotel in the evening. Dinner and overnight in Kahta.
We take a long but pleasant drive today, to Cappadocia; the land of the fairies. En route, we will stop by Kahramanmaras the city famous for its ice cream. We will walk on the streets of the city and visit the Archaeological Museum. We have lunch at a local restaurant and keep driving along the picturesque road which connects East to West along the silk road. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.
Our first real encounter with Cappadocia’s almost Martian landscape is in the Dervent valley, where the rock formations are amazing. A walk through the Zelve Open Air Museum is a journey into the past, with its troglodyte houses. This is one of the earliest inhabited and latest abandoned monastic settlements in Cappadocia. After Zelve we visit Pasabag’s “fairy chimneys”, where the voice of the wind harmonizes with the songs of the fairies. From here we pause at Avanos, a centre of terracotta art since 2,000 BC, for a demonstration in a traditional pottery workshop. After lunch in Avanos, we visit the famous Goreme Open Air Museum to see the best examples of Byzantine art in Cappadocia. These are found in rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings dating from as early as the 10th century. We complete the tour with a visit to the Uchisar Rock-Castle, giving you a panoramic view of the valleys of Cappadocia. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.
Our first stop is the Soganli Valley, an open air museum in a wild natural setting near a typical Cappadocian village with its different style rock-cut churches and frescoes. After this, we drive to Mustafapasa through the unspoiled villages of Cappadocia, surrounded by the “table-top” mountains. On the way, we visit the Keslik Monastery near Cemil village, which hides its frescoes behind a very thin smoke layer which can only be seen by torch light. After lunch in Mustafapasa at an old Greek house hosted by a local family, we descend towards the centre of the earth, with a trip to the Underground City of Kaymakli, one of the largest and deepest of Cappadocia’s many such settlements. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.
Leaving the land of fairies, we drive around the shores of Salt Lake to the capital of Turkey: Ankara. First we drive to the old district of the city to visit the Anatolian Civilizations Museum. Lunch will be served at the heart of the modern city before visiting Ataturk"s Mausoleum where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic, is buried. Spend the rest of the day at leisure, strolling down the streets of Ankara. Our farewell dinner will be at an old mansion in the Ankara citadel. Overnight in Ankara.
Transfer to Ankara Airport for the flight back home.