Absolute Turkey: Winter

Absolute Turkey: Winter


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Itinerary

Countries Visited

Turkey

Tour Itinerary

This comprehensive tour of Turkey combines history, man-made wonders and natural phenomena, as well as a vibrant and welcoming culture. Begin your trip roaming the palaces and mosques of Istanbul before journeying into the bizarre as you explore otherworldly Cappadocia. From the amazing white cliff waterfalls of Pamukkale to the bustling bazaars of Istanbul, our local CEOs will show you the region’s hidden gems and make sure your trip burns brightly in your memory long after you've left this crossroads of Asia and Europe.

Day 1 Istanbul
You can arrive at any time on Day 1 as there are no activities planned. Today is a good day to explore the Aya Sofya as it's closed on Mondays. There will be a welcome meeting in the evening where you will meet your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and fellow group members. After the meeting, you may choose to join your leader and group for an optional dinner in a local restaurant.

Day 2 Istanbul/Ankara (1B)
We begin our day with an orientation tour of Istanbul on foot, with your CEO. During this tour we will point out attractions such as the Aya Sofya and the Topkapi Palace, which you will want to return to and explore during your free time, as well as visiting and hearing the stories behind many of Istanbul’s sights and discovering some of your leader's hidden city secrets.Our walk will include a wander through the atmospheric Spice Bazaar. Built in 1660, and also known as the Egyptian Bazaar as this is where many of the spices were originally imported. This market was, and is the centre of Istanbul's spice trade. We head downhill to the Bosphorus. The many local ferries departing from here are a great way to see the city from the water, on the cheap! The newly renovated Galata Bridge which has a great view of Golden Horn and Bosphorus houses many bars. Why not grabbing a cold beer while enjoying this view! Walking back towards the Sultanahmet area, your CEO will point out the Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman sultans and their harems, as well as the fascinating Archaeological and Ancient Oriental Museums located in a nearby park. Once in Sutanahmet Park, your leader will explain a little of the tumultuous history behind the Aya Sofya – we recommend a visit during your free time.We explore the fabulous Blue Mosque, admiring the beautiful symmetry and internal tile work of the building. As it is a working mosque, take the chance to learn more about the ceremony behind Islam, the religion of around 98% of today's Turks. In front of the Blue Mosque, the ancient Hippodrome was once the scene of chariot races and now houses monuments from various moments in Istanbul’s history. Although there is little sign of it now, Divan Yolu was once famous amongst travellers on the 70’s Hippy Trail for its western food and relaxed atmosphere. En route, your CEO will point out a couple of hamams, or Turkish baths- an unmissable Turkish experience for any visitor.Passing by various graveyards, mosques and tea houses, our path leads uphill to Istanbul’s grandest mosque complex and hilltop landmark, the Suleymaniye Camii. Learn more about the famous Sultan who is buried here, as well as the master architect who designed these beautiful buildings almost 500 years ago. There are many traditionally dressed sellers in this area touting refreshing glasses of sherbet for just a few cents- worth a try on a hot day.Transfer to Ankara for the evening.Approx travel time:Istanbul to Ankara, 6 hours

Days 3-5 Cappadocia (3B,1D)
In the morning we visit Anitkabir, the monumental tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of republic of Turkey. Then we transfer by private vehicle from Ankara to the town of Goreme, our base for exploring Cappadocia, where there will be plenty of free time for exploration. Included visit to the Goreme Open Air Museum, a complex of medieval painted cave churches carved out by Orthodox monks. There are more than 10 caves to visit, with many of the churches up to 1000 years old and still retaining amazing colour and vibrancy.You can hire a bike to explore around. There are also local buses from town to town if you would like to see other villages of this region. One of the best ways to explore Cappadocia is on foot. You can join an optional trekking tour through one of the beautiful valleys guided by your CEO to explore old houses, churches, pigeon holes and orchards, all blessed with stunning views over the surrounding countryside. Ask your CEO about the many other walking and hiking options available in the area.While here, there will be the chance to visit a local pottery centre where you can take the opportunity to create your own masterpiece, as well as a carpet demonstration, to learn more about the process involved in making these Turkish works of art.During one of your evenings here, we will travel to a village and have dinner with a local family. While enjoying the home made menu, with dishes which change according to the food in season, take the chance to ask our friendly hosts all about life in rural Cappadocia. Approx travel time: Ankara to Göreme, 5 hours

Day 6 Konya/Village homestay (1B,1D)
A busy day today as we depart Göreme early and head an underground city. First built by the Phrygians in the eighth–seventh centuries BC, the underground cities were most famously used as the hiding places for the first Christians who were escaping from the persecution of the Roman Empire between the fifth and tenth centuries AD.See how people transferred their surface lives to this underground world. There are cellars, rooms for food storage, kitchens, churches, stables, wine or oil presses, and shafts for ventilation. There are around 30 underground cities in the region. We are going to visit one sample of those today. After a quick lunch, we make our way to the city of Konya. Konya was the capital of the Seljuk Turks, and is home to some of the best Seljuk architecture in the country. Wander the streets and enjoy these beautiful and historic buildings. It was also here in the thirteenth century that the poet, Mevlana Rumi, founded the mystic Islamic sect known as the whirling dervishes. Consider visiting the museum, dedicated to Mevlana Rumi. As well as finding out more about the history of the dervishes, it is a fascinating place to people watch, continuously flooded with faithful pilgrims coming to pay homage.In the afternoon, we travel one hour to a local village. On the way, we stop at Catalhoyuk, this uniquely well preserved Neolithic site has recently been established as a Unesco World Heritage site. Explore the area and note there are no streets and houses are closely clustered with roof top access for travel. Witness the cultural evolution from the first settlers in 7500 BC, to the remnants of the urban centre that we see today. Here we will learn about local life and enjoy a home cooked dinner in our village homestay. Accommodations are very simple - mattresses on the floor of the family's living room - and include shared bathroom facilities but there is no better chance to learn about local Turkish life. All bedding is supplied for our overnight stay.Overnight in village homestay with simple accommodation. Approx travel times: Goreme to Underground city site, 30mins; Underground city to Konya, 2,5hrs, Konya to village stay, approx 1 hour.

Day 7-8 Antalya (2B)
Today is an relatively early start (8am) as we travel by private vehicle directly to the city of Antalya. Arriving around lunchtime, spend your time wandering the charming cobbled hillside streets of the district of Kaleici. This is a great place to stop and have a drink at one of the restaurants with great views of the marina below.Those searching for a little culture may want to check out the Antalya Museum, offering some great reconstructions of life under the Ottoman Empire. For a break from the hustle and bustle why not head for the greenery and teashops of one of Antalya's beautiful parks. Those that love the sun may want to head to one of the nearby beaches.Approx travel time: Village stay to Antalya, 5hrs

Days 9 Pamukkale (1B)
Time to leave sea level behind. as passing through fruit orchards we make our way from to Pamukkale. In the afternoon, we'll visit the famous white cliffs of Pamukkale. 2700m long and 160m high, visible from up to 20kms away, Pamukkale is made up of 17 hot water springs in which the temperature varies between 35 and 100 degrees. The white cliffs, or travertine are formed when the calcium carbonate, which is deposited at first as a soft jelly, hardens with time. We also explore the ancient site of Hierapolis built on top of the white "castle". This UNESCO world heritage site is evidence that the hot springs of Pamukkale were used as a spa since the second century BC, and there are large, ancient baths within the city.

Days 10-11 Selu00E7uk (2B)
Today we travel to the town of Selçuk. In the afternoon visit the ruins of the ancient Roman town of Ephesus. One of the foremost cities of the world in its time, with a strategic location on the trade route, this well preserved city is one of the best places in the world to get a real feeling of what life must have been like during Roman times. The massive, well-preserved theatre dominates the view down Harbour Street, which leads to the long-silted-up harbour.On Day 11, there will be some free time to walk up to the remains of St John's Basilica, visit the mosque of Isa Bey or just wander the streets and cafes of this vibrant Turkish town. Catch a local “dolmus” bus 8kms to the picturesque village of sirence where you can sample some of the local wine or shop for crafts. Late in the afternoon we drive to Kirazli village for a local cooking class. Our host will teach us some Turkish dishes which we'll eat at the end of the class.Approx travel time: Pamukkale to Selçuk, 3hrs

Day 12 Ayvalik (1B)
You’ll be charmed by Ayvalik’s blend of old Ottoman architecture, cobbled streets and attractive harbour. If you are itching to get back into the turquoise sea, the beach of Sarimsakli is only a short bus ride away.After you have finished exploring, head down to one of the waterside restaurants for a sunset drink or meal. Enjoy the hospitality and beautiful views from our family-run pension. Located in a restored Ottoman house, it is always a highlight for our travellers. Please note that this accommodation has shared bathroom facilities and some rooms may be multi-share.Approx travel time: Selçuk to Ayvalik, 2.5hrs

Day 13 Troy/u00C7anakkale (1B)
On our way to the city of Çanakkale, our base for the night, we pay a visit to the world famous Troy. Troy was first made famous by the Iliad, Homer's epic poem, and more recently by Orlando Bloom and Brad Pitt in the film of the same name! For centuries this story in the Iliad, was regarded as just a myth, until the ruins of the city were found in in the mid-nineteenth century. While today not too much remains, it is possible, with a bit of imagination to get a feel for what a great city this must once have been. Of course you won’t want to miss your chance to have your photo taken with the Trojan horse!We continue a further 32km to the harbour town of Çanakkale, a busy port with a thriving student population. Join the crowds as they stroll the waterfront nightly, seeing and being seen. Approx travel time: Ayvalik to Troy, 2.5hrs; Troy to Çanakkale, 40mins

Day 14 Gallipoli/Istanbul (1B)
This morning we make an early morning visit to Gallipoli, where thousands gave their lives during WWI in the battle of the same name. Here the Turks fought off the numerically superior but badly commanded Allied forces who were forced to withdraw nine months later. We will visit ANZAC Cove, the war cemeteries, Lone Pine and other important sites. Even for those who are not familiar with this battle, this is a moving and beautiful site, completing any trip to Turkey.We'll continue our journey to Istanbul where there will be the opportunity to continue your sightseeing or get in some last minute shopping. Why not top off a wonderful adventure with dinner at one of Istanbul's atmospheric restaurants.Approx travel time: Çanakkale to Gallipoli, 20mins (ferry) + 20mins (bus); Gallipoli to Istanbul, 5hrs

Day 15 Istanbul (1B)
You are free to depart at any time today. Please note that check-out time from the hotel is normally mid-morning, but luggage storage facilities are available. We are able to organise extra post-trip accommodation if you wish to extend your stay for a few more days. Please ask at the time of booking.

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Inclusions

Accommodations:
Discover historic cities and explore the ancient ruins of Ephesus, marvel at the extraordinary scenery of Cappadocia, enjoy dinner in a local family home, meet a local family on a homestay

Important Notes:
14 breakfasts, 3 dinners.

Meals Included:
BreakfastMany breakfasts are included as part of your tour. Turkish breakfasts are very different from your usual cereal and toast morning fare - when was the last time you had olives for breakfast?They pretty much universally consist of large slices of fresh "french style" white bread accompanied by slices of tomato, cucumber, white and yellow cheeses, olives, jam and honey. This is accompanied by tea (which a Turk would always choose!) or coffee (which is pretty much always instant coffee)You will of course want to sample the famous Turkish coffee, but it is usually taken after a big lunch or dinner, or in the late afternoon with a pastry.While we think these breakfasts are absolutely delicious, some travellers do find them a bit repetitive and enjoy buying market fruit the day before and eating this for breakfast.Lunches ...will usually be simple and on the run. They are a great chance to try Turkey's delicious and healthy array of "fast foods".This may include, "gozleme", a type of Turkish savory crepe, "chorba", delicious lentil soup, and of course doner kebabs in both beef and chicken varieties. You won't want to miss the chance to try "pide", Turkish pizza, and lahmucan- thin crust pizza you fold greenery intoYou may also find "kumpir", Turkish stuffed potatoes.DinnerMost Turks start their dinners with a couple of mezes- small taster dishes such as grilled octopus, aubergine salad, and many more. You could also choose a soup made of fresh local ingredients. Main courses tend to be based around fresh seafood if you are near the coast (expect to pay around 15 lira for a whole fish)or the ubiquitous kebab- skewers of charcoaled meat which comes on bread with salad. There are plenty of variations of the kebab-many regions have their own speciality so be sure to ask your leader.DessertsYum- its all about the sugar. Baklava (about 2 TKL a piece for the good stuff) is something of a national obsession and it is believed the best comes from the East. There are endless varieties of pastries and milk based deserts available and you are sure to spend at least some time in a Turkish bakery taste testing.SnacksDon't miss munching on a simit , a Turkish pretzel or perhaps some grilled sweet corn to get you through between meals.DrinksTea, served in small tulip glasses, is the number one beverage of choice in Turkey. It is freshly brewed and a tea bag is a rare thing. Turkish coffee is wonderful thing to try. The national beer is named Efes and is very good (usually 4-5 TKL a bottle) Wine is made in Turkey and is getting better every year. Expect to pay around 6-7 liras for a glass in a restaurant.Water is approximately 1 TRL for a 1.5 litre bottle, soft drinks and juices are around 2-3 TRL.Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is cheap. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip.

Transport:
Private air-con van

Transport:
Private air-con van

OR Call Us For a Free Quote 1-800-935-2620

Accommodations

Hotels (13 nts), simple village homestay (1 nt).

On this trip you can expect to stay in small family-run hotels or pensions (with the exception of the start and finish hotels, which are often larger city hotels), which will vary a little in standard and facilities: some may not have elevators, air-conditioning or English-speaking staff, but most importantly all are locally-run, with some traditional character, and in excellent central locations to give you maximum time for exploring the sights. Below are details on some of our unique accommodation experiences on this itinerary.Day 6 Village Stay :During our village stay we aim to give you the experience of life with a a local family. We use two houses with each room sleeping up to three people and sharing the family bathroom. All bedding is provided.In the evening we gather together to enjoy a meal or fresh, local produce with the menu dependent on what is in season.My own room is not available tonight.Day 8 Overnight Boat:Overnight on board the boat will take place between May and October only and will depend on weather conditions even then. The rest of the year and when the weather does not permit sleeping onboard, you will stay in a local hotel. This is a multi-share night on board a typical boat, mattresses will be put on the floor and you will be provided with bedding. There is one passenger toilet and one shower inside and one outside, both are shared. There is no hot water on board. No towels will be provided.My own room is not available tonight.Day 12 AyvalikLocated in a restored Ottoman house, our family-run pension is always a highlight for our travellers. This accommodation has shared bathroom facilities and some rooms may be multi-share. My own room is not available tonight.

OR Call Us For a Free Quote 1-800-935-2620

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Ratings based off 234 reviews about G Adventures Tours. Currently showing 15 reviews with comments only.
By Ramiro R on Jul 09, 2016

Trip of a lifetime, amazing service and a great adventure!

By April L on Jun 29, 2016

The trip was great! Our CEO was especially wonderful. The trip was fast-paced and challenging both physically and emotionally but was one of the best experiences of my life. Well done G-Adventures!

By Richard S on Jun 19, 2016

I prefer to travel independently whenever possible, but there are certain spots in the world where an organized, group tour works better due to concerns such as local transportation or safety. Recently, I was able to get a bit of time away from my client and did not have time to plan an individual journey. I elected to visit a spot or two that would work best on a tour. After scouring sites for potential trip(s) that would fit into the time I had available, I chose two handled by G Adventures (a company that I did not know previously due to my choice to usually travel independently). One trip was to Jordan (Explore Jordan tour) and the other was to India (Golden Triangle tour). I was highly pleased with the Explore Jordan tour, but disappointed by the Golden Triangle tour. As I sit here and write this review and ask myself the reason, I can say that it was the difference was primarily because of the tour guide (or CEO, as G Adventures calls them).

The Explore Jordan tour guide exhibited strong leadership, was well being organized and professional, and he handled changing situations very well. It was Ramadan during the time of my trip which means that hours and conditions varied, often with no advance notice, and he was able to successfully navigate the rough landscape to the pleasure of the tour participants. He also was presented with a couple of unique "challenges" that almost seemed like plants to see how a tour guide could handle them. I am pleased to say that the CEO succeeded with flying colors. Since I am not a veteran of many organized group tours, I admit that I took his accomplishments a bit for granted.

I gained an increased appreciation for our previous CEO after completing the Golden Triangle tour and seeing a tour guide who lacked the leadership capabilities of our previous one, seemed less than prepared, and took minimal interest in helping tour participants with the optional activities. The tour participants, who were veterans of organized group tours, spoke rather highly of G Adventures, so I do hope that preponderance of G Adventures tour guides are similar to my previous experience.

As far as other things on the trip, I found the Grand Palace Hotel to be lacking in consistent attentiveness of the staff. Some of the staff (mostly the younger staff members) were quite good, but others could not have cared less about the guests. Hotel Petra Moon was quite decent and the location was excellent. Ramada Dead Sea scheduled a rather loud and late event that was very much of a sound intrusion (read, no way of sleeping through it), but once I finally reached the manager on duty, I was able to get my room changed. The time spent at the Rahayeb Desert Camp was a highlight, but it is in the desert and there is not air conditioning in the tents (or anywhere else), which is just something of which to be aware. Due to Ramadan, we were not able to get into the National Museum in Amman, and the CEO was able to substitute a visit to Little Petra for us. I am very appreciative of this and would strongly encourage G Adventures to figure out how to make Little Petra a part of the regular itinerary. The time spent at the various locations was adequate, or at least as adequate as the number of days in the trip would allow. If I had it to do again, I would have figured out how to add a second day at Petra. But that is a me thing, and nothing against G Adventures. There was one shopping stop during the trip. I know that many organized tours have way too many "merchandise opportunities" so I am grateful that there was only the one stop, which was of a reasonable length and was at a location that helped the local people in Jordan. I am not much of a person for local foods, so I brought a good amount of things in my suitcase and kept myself fed well enough. While the taste of local cuisine is truly appreciated by most people on an organized tour, I did wish that there were a few more choices that would meet my palate.

If anyone is doing the Explore Jordan trip, I would encourage them to get into Amman a bit early so that they can add a tour of the so-called "Desert Castles." They are the main sites in Jordan (except Kerak Castle) that are not part of the Explore Jordan tour. It only takes about 6 hours to do, and is well worth it. The tour does not include the Roman Theater either, and it is also worth a look if time allows. But you will get a good view of the Roman Theater from above when the tour goes to the Citadel, so you will not feel cheated for not visiting it. Jordan exists in a tough neighborhood of the world, but I found the Jordanian people to be good folks and felt safe most of the time that I was there. As with anything today, you always need to be careful, but I would not avoid visiting Jordan because of the wars in a couple of its neighboring countries (but keep aware of events after I write this review, as things can change quickly). An upside for those visiting Jordan today is that, because of the state of that corner of the world, tourism numbers as very depressed. That means for someone visiting Jordan, there is not the crush of tourists that you would find elsewhere.

By Jay H on Jun 18, 2016

From start to finish the trip was excellent..The Tour operater G Adventures was fabulous..Our guide was the best ..He did everything for us..Will definitely book with you guys again

By Amol U on May 06, 2016

One of the best tours I ever had. Thank you,

By John A on Oct 28, 2015

Small group, great activities, mix of culture, history, fiesta, varied food, hotel was very nice, great breakfasts, good location in city center, When we changed planes in Mexico City we had to get luggage and go on sky train to get tickets on AeroMexico recheck luggage and had difficulty finding good directions to do this. It took quite a while and help from fellow tourists. Never had to do this in traveling all over the world.

By Aileen A on Sep 05, 2015

I've been traveling with g adventures, but in this specific trip I had problem with my room/roommate. I had an 23 hr flight from San Francisco to Budapest. I arrived in Budapest at 1am. By that time all I wanted is to get to my bed and get some sleep. But for some reason there was another person sleeping in my bed when I got to my room. The CEO of g adventures said this 2 people can't room together already but they decided to do it anyway. So I was left with no bed. I had to wake the CEO and had him to talk to my roommate and get that person out of my bed. Then I have to ask for clean sheets which the hotel didn't have. So we had to get the some sheets. From where that guy is supposed to be sleeping and then I had to do my own bed.

By Irene M on Aug 15, 2015

By choosing G Adventures, the service and the hassle free is above exceptional.

By Carlos S on Apr 04, 2015

G Adventures offered us a comprehensive tour that covered everything we wanted to see.

By Katherine M on Apr 04, 2015

Excellent guide and good value.

By Jane G on Apr 02, 2015

My whole experience was beyond my expectation. Our tour guide made my experience to Japan most memorable. It was the best way to experience Japan in a small size group tour. Thanks for your constant dedication to each and everyone in the group. Thank you for the unforgetable experience, for answering our questions, accommodating our concerns, and for making us feel at home just by being around you. You are such a great guide and we are so greatful GAdventure chose you for our group.

By Umashankar V on Feb 26, 2015

It was a great trip! The tour director was very helpful. Though the accommodations could have a little bit better.

By Amol U on Feb 14, 2015

Certainly enjpyed this tour of G Adventures.

By Ina L on Aug 03, 2014

I am very thankful to the agent for helping me in deciding to go with G Adventures, my first time with them. Was a bit hesitant at first but the agent said G Adventures groups are smaller, and cost is less expensive. I went with her advice and am very happy with this decision. I had a blast in Peru and loved the entire experience with G adventures.


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