Anatolian Adventure Tour
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The Adventure begins
The Anatolian Adventure Tour takes you from one side of this amaz-ing and diverse country to the other in a spectacular 14 day tour.From the worldly, cosmopolitan and bustling city of Istanbul to therugged and beautiful country around the mystical mountain ofArarat and then to Lake Van and the ancient frontier city of Van. Thetour will take you back in time through early Christian settlement inAnatolia and then back to Old Testament times and a world peopledby the ancient Hittites, Urartians and the Old Testament Patriarchssuch as Abraham and Noah. From Istanbul, in the luxury of air con-ditioned railway carriages and by coaches to the borderlands of theeast with nomads and their flocks of sheep and goats this is not justa journey from one place to another, it really is a journey throughtime.
Travel is by the new Turkish Rail sleeper service from Istanbul toAnkara then on by road in fully air-conditioned coaches. Return fromVan to Istanbul is by scheduled airline. The tour is fully inclusive andthe cost covers all domestic travel, guides, museum/ site entry,accommodation and all meals (some exceptions noted in tour itiner-ary in Istanbul). Not included are costs of visa, international travel,soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
The Bosphorus and Haydarpasha Station
Railway sleeper carriage
Days 1 & 2
Arrive in Istanbul - over two days sight seeing including the TopkapiPalace, Aya Sofia, the Archaeological Museum, the Yerebetan Saray,the Mosaic Museum, the Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome as wellas a cruise up the Bosphorus to Anadolu Kavagi, the last ferry stopon the Asian side just where the channel joins the Black Sea. AtAnadolu Kavagi you may take the opportunity to enjoy a delicioussea food meal at one of the many fish restaurants. Journey backalong the Asian side by coach to visit the Beylerbeyi Palace, the sum-mer palace of the last Ottoman Sultans. (B)
Day 2 (evening)
Istanbul- See the Bosphorus by night on the ferry travelling across tothe Asian side to begin your Anatolian adventure. Dinner and thendepart from Istanbul's Haydarpasha station in your own sleepercompartment on the night train to Ankara. (D)
Rumeli Hisari, The Bosphorus
The Egyptian Bazaar, Istanbul
The Blue Mosque, Istanbul
After an early breakfast on board your train you arrive in Ankara at8 o'clock. In the morning we will visit the tomb of Ataturk, thefounder of modern Turkey. Called Anit Kabir, Ataturk's mausoleum isone of Ankara's major landmarks.
Completed in 1953 it is designed to capture the spirit of monumen-tal architecture found in Anatolia from the Hittites and Romansthrough to the Seljuk Turks. The final effect is both ancient and mod-ern; a stark memorial for an impressive man.
In the afternoon the tour of Ankara takes in the Citadel and theMuseum of Anatolian Civilisations. Housed in a beautifully restoredcovered bazaar built in 1471 by the Grand Vizier Mahmut Pasha,and in an adjoining Han of the same period, this is one of the out-standing museums of Turkey. In a country that has such historicalriches this museum will give you a rich taste of what you will see onyour tour through Anatolia. (B, L, D)
Anit Kabir, main building
After a leisurely breakfast we depart for Hattusas, the ancient capi-tal of the Hittite Empire. We will be staying near the city so you willhave plenty of time to explore and absorb the atmosphere of thisimportant site.
A walled city, Hattusas is a large site containing many temples (theHittites had a pantheon of 1000 gods) and a great fortress that helda royal palace which housed the Hittite state archives. In thesearchives archaeologists discovered, in 1906, a cuneiform tablet onwhich was written a treaty between the Hittite King Hattusili III andthe Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II. - one of the earliest peace treatieson record. (B, L, D)
Relief of Hittite God, Hattusas
The Lion Gate, Hattusas
From Hattusas we continue to the UNESCO world heritage site atGoreme. This whole region was an early area of Christian settlementand is characterised by many underground cities, churches and bycommunities of troglodyte dwellings; houses carved out of the livingrock. Overnight at Goreme. (B, L, D)
(Balloon flights over the Goreme area are available at an additionalcost)
The fortress of Uchisar, carved out of a natural rock pinnacle
The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia
Balloon flights over Goreme area
We spend the morning exploring the Ihlara valley- a deep gorge cutby a river through the dusty plains and providing a beautiful, cooland tranquil refuge from the heat above.
From Ihlara we go to the fascinating underground city of Derinkoyu;a labyrinth of passages going down at least eight levels, Derinkoyuwas a fully self sufficient refuge in times of conflict and, it isbelieved, connected by extensive tunnel systems to other under-ground cities many miles distant. Overnight at Goreme. (B, L, D)
Mid morning start for the journey to Mt. Nemrut in Adiyaman to seethe summit and the magnificent funerary monument built by KingAntiochus III. Lost for nearly 2000 years and only rediscovered byaccident in the 1890s this monument is an enigmatic memorial to along lost king.
We will stay at the summit to witness the setting of the sun and toenjoy this unforgettable experience.
Return to your hotel for dinner and refreshments. (B, L, D)
Sunset on Mt Nemrut
Statues at the Tumulus on the summit of Nemrut
Depart for Urfa. En route we will visit the Ataturk Dam, which is partof the South eastern Anatolia Project (GAP). An impressive, huge,hydro-electric and irrigation project on the upper reaches of theEuphrates River. Well worth a visit not only for it being an engineer-ing masterpiece but also to see the unusual monument to thosewho lost their lives whilst building the dam. Taking Turkish tea willbe part of the ritual!
In Urfa, a spectacle to behold, from impressive stone masonry andladies in beautiful head scarves, we will enjoy lunch at a hand pickedrestaurant where you will be able to relax whilst enjoying fresh localfood once more.
Urfa is called the City of Prophets for its biblical connections.Sightseeing again will be at a pace to enable you to fully appreciatethis enchanting city, taking in the castle with huge Roman columnswhich dominate the top of the hill. Your guide will regale you withthe story of old about how the Pool of Sacred Carp got its name.The Pool of Sacred Carp, surrounded by architecturally exquisitebuildings and the large, green, and floral gardens are a sight tobehold in the evening where the moonlight, and if you are lucky alightening storm capture the romance of the moment.
Families take in the sights and you will be welcomed as a visitor totheir city. One more important place to visit in the gardens is thebirthplace of the Prophet Abraham. This cave, where there are sep-arate entrances for men and women, is a place of tranquillity in apeaceful and romantic setting. Hotel in Urfa (B, L, D). Monument at the Ataturk Dam
The Gardens in Urfa
The Pool of Abraham
Comfortable coach ride to Harran. Harran is a famous city fromancient Mesopotamian times; a mystical and ancient place of beehive houses built of mud and straw. Here camels roam free, andyou will feel that a step back in time has been taken.
You will be greeted by the guardian of the houses and invited totake tea or a cold drink under the Arabian tent! After pleasantries,which I am sure by now you will have realised is an important partof Turkish culture, you will be invited to roam through some of thehouses, realising their worth at keeping cool throughout the day andwarm during the night. A short walk from the bee hive houses isthe ruined site of the first Islamic University of the world. The Biblespeaks of this town as the place where Abraham and his familylived.
Bee Hive house in Harran
After breakfast we will visit the on going archaeological dig atGobekli Tepe. This extraordinary site is the oldest religious structurebuilt by man yet discovered; at 10 - 11 thousand years BC thesestructures pre date not only Stonehenge and the Pyramids but alsowriting and the discovery of the skills of pottery.
From Gobekli Tepe we carry on to Mardin and a little bit of luxuryfrom olden times staying in beautifully restored Caravansary, an oldinn where many years ago traders would travel with their wares todo business, selling silks and spices.
This old inn has been transformed into a beautiful and quirky hotel,with roof top restaurants with views over the plains of northernSyria.
A friendly welcome at the Artuklu Kervanserai
Standing stones at Gobekli Tepe
After a sumptuous breakfast we will visit Deir-Al-Zafaran (theSaffron Monastery), once centre of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchyand still an active monastery. Here you will learn the history of thepeople, their life's work, and how the monastery manages to floaton a 3000 year old Sun Temple? Take rich Syrian coffee on the love-ly terrace and enjoy the views.
After lunch we will drive to Hasankeyf, situated by the Tigris River.Hasankeyf has hundreds of caves, hidden waterways, tombs, a larg-er and smaller Palace, as well as ruins of the Great Mosque. Peoplelived in the caves up until the early 1970s and you will be able to goinside some of the homes and to visit the small mosque at the topof the hill. We will the