Black Sea & Eastern Turkey Tour 15 days
Day 1 : We arrive on the early flight to Trabzon, 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.
Day 2 : 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.
Day 3 : 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.
Day 4 : After breakfast, today 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 Sarikamis, once a favourite retreat of the Tsars of Russia, where we spend the night. Dinner, and overnight in Sarikamis.
Day 5 : Today we head on further south to Van via Dogubeyazit, where we visit the legendary Ishakpasha 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.
Day 6 : After a leisurely breakfast, today we visit the Fortress of Van and the museum. After lunch at a local restaurant, free time afternoon. Dinner, and overnight in Van.
Day 7 : Departing early, we first visit Akdamar Church before driving further west to Diyarbakir via the 12th century Malabadi Bridge. Dinner, and overnight in Diyarbakir.
Day 8 : We leave Diyarbakir, and drive South to 8Mardin], 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 Urfa where we will spend the night. Dinner, and overnight in Urfa.
Day 9 : 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 Urfa to see the pool and the birthplace of Abraham. Dinner, and overnight in Urfa.
Day 10 : After breakfast, we leave Urfa and drive to Kahta along a spectacular road, having lunch at Adiyaman. We stop for a 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 Adiyaman.
Day 11 : We take a long but pleasant drive today, to Cappadocia; the land of the fairies. Dinner, and overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 12 : Today we introduce you to the lunar landscape of Cappadocia at Dervent Valley, then we head on to Zelve Open Air Museum, which is one of the earliest inhabited and latest abandoned monastic settlements of Cappadocia. Seeing the best examples of the fairy chimneys at Pasabag Fairy Chimneys Valley, we drive further to Avanos, where we have lunch at a local restaurant. Goreme Open Air Museum is where we visit the rock carved churches and colorful frescoes. We end the day hiking up to the top of Uchisar Castle, which is the highest and the most dominant point, giving us a breathtaking panorama. Dinner, and overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 13 : Today we drive a little further to the outskirts of Cappadocia, first to descend to the centre of the earth at Kaymakli Underground City. As we drive further southwest, we pass by Mt. Hasan, to start our hike along Ihlara Valley. After a while we arrive at Belisirma village where we can have our lunch in a local restaurant, mid-way along the valley by the stream. Then we visit the Selime and drive back to our hotel, Dinner, and overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 14 : Leaving the land of fairies, we drive around the shores of Salt Lake to the capitol of Turkey: Ankara. First we drive to the old district of the city to visit the Anatolian Civilisations 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.
Day 15 : After breakfast, transfer to Ankara Esenboga Airport, and fly back home.
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