Best of Turkey Trip Notes

Be immersed in the allure of Turkey on this unique adventure. Tour from Istanbul to Ephesus, Pamukkale to the coast, and Cappadocia to the Anatolian Steppe.

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Last Modified: 01 Oct 2013
Best of Turkey
Trip code: ERSI
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
Explore the mysterious land of the Ottomans Intrepid-style. Marvel at Mehmet Aga's masterpiece, the Blue Mosque, and bargain for trinkets in the Grand Bazaar. Try delicious Turkish snacks, be mesmerised by the Whirling Dervishes and discover the underwater treasures of the Mediterranean. From the laneways of ancient Ephesus to the bizarre landscapes of Cappadocia - take the plunge and discover the amazing adventure that is waiting for you in Turkey.
2012 CHANGES:
In 2012 we no longer spend the night in Ucagiz on Day 10. Instead we stay in second night in Kas in a family run guesthouse.
Please note that the start and finish point for this trip will be the Best Palace Hotel, Istanbul for 2012 departures.
Table of Contents
StyleGroup sizeEmergency contact
ThemesYour fellow travellersEmergency funds
MapSingle travellersVisas
ItineraryAccommodationIssues on your trip
We also recommendMeals introductionWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerMealsHealth
Culture shock rating TransportSafety
Physical ratingGroup leaderTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
TippingFinish point Carbon offset
Departure taxFinish point descriptionFeedback
Important notesFinish point instructions
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Best of Turkey
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Istanbul
Hosgeldinz! Welcome to Istanbul.
You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 6PM. Look for a note in the hotel lobby as to where this important meeting will take place. If you are going to be late please leave a message with the hotel reception.
At the group meeting we will be collecting your insurance details and emergency contact information, so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader. After the meeting, there is the option of joining your fellow travellers for dinner.
If your flight is scheduled to arrive late we recommend that you consider booking a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you can ensure you are able to attend the important group meeting.
Check-in time at our joining point hotel is after 2pm. Early check-in is not guaranteed, however if you arrive early, luggage storage is available. Speak to the hotel reception on arrival.
Istanbul is the only city in the world which stands upon two continents. The main part of the city, which is located at the south-eastern tip of Europe, is separated from its suburbs in Asia by the Bosphorus. The Golden Horn then divides the European city into two parts.
On the morning of day 2 your group leader will take you on a walking tour discovering some of the hidden charms of the areas around Sultanahmet and Port Eminonu. We will be sure to explore some of the city's dazzling array of cultural and historical sites and also take time to get off the beaten track discovering back streets and lesser-known sites. Each of our leaders has their own unique view of Istanbul to show you, an insight that only someone very familiar to a city can give.
The rest of our afternoon is free to check out the Grand Bazaar (note the Bazaar is closed on Sundays), make a visit to Aya Sofya, the home of beautiful mosaics and an incredible reminder of the city that was once Constantinople. Consider taking in some famous sites such as the Ancient Hippodrome, formerly the cultural focus of the Byzantine Empire. See Istanbul's most famous landmark, the Blue Mosque. Whilst entry is free, it is good custom to make a donation of a lira or two after your visit. This is a working mosque and part of its role is to look after the less fortunate in the community. Visit the Archaeology Museum which contains an incredible array of ancient exhibits of particular interest the artefacts from infamous Troy. Visit the atmospheric underground Cistern, a vast underwater storage tank built in 532 AD. If all of this makes you a little tired then an hour or two spent in a hamam (Turkish bath) will leave you rejuvenated for the start of your journey. Maybe head down to the Bosphorus and take a ferry cruise on one of the world's most celebrated waterways or grab a fresh fish roll for lunch. For Monday departures we recommend you visit the magnificent opulence of Topkapi Palace on day 1 as it is closed on Tuesday.
Included Activities
  • Istanbul - Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Istanbul - Aya Sofya - TRY25
  • Istanbul - Basilica Cistern - TRY10
  • Istanbul - Whirling Dervish show - TRY50
  • Istanbul - Topkapi Palace (incl. harem) - TRY35
  • Istanbul - Chora Church - TRY15
  • Istanbul - Archaeology Museum - TRY10
  • Istanbul - Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts - TRY10
  • Istanbul - Turkish Hamam (incl. massage) - TRY100
  • Istanbul - Blue Mosque - Free
  • Istanbul - Bosphorus boat cruise - TRY10
  • Istanbul - Galata Tower - TRY12
  • Activity - Free
  • Istanbul - Great Palace Mosaic Museum - TRY8
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 3 Bursa
Early on day 3 we depart Istanbul by a fast ferry to the port of Yalova (approx. 1 hour) then it's onto a local bus to Bursa, where we will stay the night (approx. 1.5 hours).
Please note that sometimes we have to take an alternative route, catching the ferry from Kabatas to the port of Guzelyali
( approx 1hr 50mins ), followed by a local bus and then a train to Bursa ( approx. 1hr 20mins ). This depends on the ferry schedule on the day which can often change with little notice.
Bursa is an old and important city with a rich and varied history. It formed a central role in the creation of the Ottoman Empire and from 1326-1402 AD actually served as the Sultan's capital. With elegant mosques such as the supremely beautiful Yesil Camii, an intriguing covered bazaar and tea houses filled with locals, Bursa offers us a glimpse of traditional Turkish life. The afternoon is spent exploring the warren of streets and old Ottoman hans (warehouses). Bursa is also home to thermal springs nearby at Cekirge, famously used by Byzantine imperial families. Why not treat yourself to a soak, steam, and scrub Turkish style. The Turkish traditional shadow puppet shows, which were originally created here in Bursa, are a cultural highlight, as is the local kebab - the hearty iskender.
Tonight we have the highlight for many of our passengers, to be guests at a Dervish Lodge, see the performance of the Sema and learn a bit more about their mesmerising culture.
Tonight we stay in a hotel.
Included Activities
  • Bursa - Dervish Lodge
  • Leader-led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Bursa - Dinner with local family - TRY15
  • Bursa - Hamam - TRY50
  • Bursa - City Museum - TRY2
  • Bursa - Muradiye Complex - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Selcuk
We travel by public bus to Selcuk (approx. 7hrs), our base for discovering Ephesus, former capital of the East Roman Empire and the best preserved ancient city in Turkey.
On day 5 we explore the site admiring the amphitheatre and famous library. For lunch we learn how to make a Turkish favourite, gozleme - thin, flaky pastry filled with local ingredients such as spinach and feta cheese.
Later in the afternoon we head out to the nearby village of Sirince, where we wander this authentic Ottoman village. Enjoy a taste-testing of fruit wines produced locally. This old Greek Ottoman village seems to have been overlooked by modern development and is a photographer's dream.
Consider a visit to the excellent Ephesus museum located in the heart of Selcuk for a deeper understanding of the ruins. St John is said to have written his gospel in this town and the historic Basilica of St John was erected upon his grave site in the 6th century. There is also a hilltop citadel, first constructed by the Byzantines in the 6th century.
Included Activities
  • Leader-led orientation walk
  • Selcuk - Ephesus Archaeological site
  • Selcuk - Gozleme making demonstration and lunch
  • Selcuk - Sirince visit & fruit wine tasting
Optional Activities
  • Selcuk - Basilica of St John - TRY5
  • Selcuk - Hamam - TRY50
  • Selcuk - Archaeological Museum - TRY8
  • Selcuk - Ephesus Terrace houses - TRY15
  • Selcuk - Meryemana (Mary's House) - TRY12
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Day 6 Pamukkale
A bus ride (3.5 hrs) inland through mountainous landscapes brings us to one of Turkey's most photographed sites - the gleaming white travertine terraces of Pamukkale, which are made from limestone deposits formed when water from the hot springs lose carbon dioxide. The layers of the white calcium carbonate have given Pamukkale its name 'cotton castles'. The pools, now off limits, have been famed for their medicinal qualities since Roman times.
Though we are not able to bathe in the world-famous travertines (calcium ledges) we can still walk through them (no shoes please) and bathe in healing thermal springs at the nearby Roman site of Hierapolis. Home to an oracle at one time, a well-preserved Roman theatre also remains here. Wander the colonnaded streets and discover the necropolis with its many unique tombs looking every bit like a scene from judgement day.
Included Activities
  • Pamukkale - Hierapolis & Travertines National Park
Optional Activities
  • Pamukkale - Hierapolis Museum - TRY3
  • Pamukkale - Hierapolis Cleopatra pool - TRY25
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 7-8 Kayakoy
A bus ride south (approx. 4.5 hours) takes us away from the tourists to the small village of Kayakoy. This small village acts as our base to explore the many attractions of this scenic section of the Mediterranean coast including the resort town of Fethiye.
Kayakoy was initially a ghost village, its ancient stone houses left uninhabited after their Greek inhabitants left Turkey during the great population exchange of the 1920s. Now Kayakoy provides you with the opportunity to enjoy a quiet, traditional Turkish village. Enjoy a glass of tea and game of backgammon or have a haircut at the local barber shop.
On day 8 we set out on a half day trek along a section of rugged coastline, following part of the Lycian way to nearby Oludeniz (approx. 6kms) where you can swim in the famous Blue Lagoon.
Please note that the trek to Oludeniz is rated moderate to difficult and a good level of fitness is required. The terrain under foot is sometimes slippery and uneven and there are periods of ascent and descent. Good walking shoes are certainly required. If you do have a reasonable level of fitness this will be an extremely enjoyable and rewarding walk. If you are unsure as to your capability to complete this walk please discuss with your group leader prior, so that other arrangements can be made for this day.
Included Activities
  • Kayakoy - Lycian Hike
  • Kayakoy - Oludeniz Blue Lagoon
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 9-10 Kas / Boat Cruise / Kas

Some spectacular coastal scenery greets us on our drive from Kayakoy to Kas (approx. 2.5hrs).The picturesque village of Kas is the starting point for our fantastic boat trip and is the southern most of all the Turkish resorts.
Swim and snorkel in crystal blue waters, feast on fabulous local cuisine (sometimes fish caught from our boat), cruise over an ancient sunken city and explore Lycian tombs. Sleep beneath the stars on mattresses, blankets and pillows. There's plenty of room both on the deck and inside and there's even a western-style toilet and fresh water to shower. Our boat trip finishes back at Kas, where we spend the night in a small guest house with our local friends.
Due to varying weather conditions over the season we have a varying itinerary as follows:
- During the cooler months of March, April, October and November we don't spend a night on the boat and instead stay in a local guesthouse for two nights in Kas.
- During the months of May, June and September our normal itinerary will run with one night on the boat and one night in a local guesthouse in Kas.
- During the months of July and August we spend two nights on the boat, and don't spend a night in the guesthouse.
With its cobbled streets and whitewashed walls, Kas has a distinctively Mediterranean feel. The best places in town to swim are from the waterfront restaurants that have their own private water access. For the price of an occasional drink, you get your own deck chair, umbrella and unbeatable views. When the sun goes down there is the chance to explore the handicraft markets where you can find beautiful handmade wares with a distinctly Turkish flavour.
Included Activities
  • Kas - Turquoise coast overnight boat cruise
  • Leader led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Kas - Handicraft market - Free
Accommodation
Overnight boat (1 nt), Hotel (1 nt)
Day 11 Konya
An epic journey by bus sees us head away from the coast and move inland to Konya on the plains of the Anatolian steppe. While it is a long day of travel the diversity of the scenery will keep you entertained as we cross the Toros Mountain range.
Konya is the perfect opportunity for you to sample a traditional Turkish city where mainstream tourism is yet to arrive. The city of Konya is linked closely with the Whirling Dervish sect of Islam. Developed by Celaleddin Rumi (or Mevlana) in the 13th century, he is considered one of Islam's greatest Sufi mystics. We have the option to visit the incredible Mevlana Museum and tombs of important dervish leaders. Or get lost in the maze of streets that make up the sprawling local bazaar filled with many oddities such as felt handicrafts.
Included Activities
  • Leader led orientation walk
Optional Activities
  • Konya - Karatay Museum - TRY3
  • Konya - Mevlana Museum - TRY3
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 12-14 Goreme
We leave Konya this morning by bus (approx. 4hrs) heading to Goreme in the Cappadocia Region. Cappadocia fascinates all travellers. Shaped by wind and water, its otherworldly rock formations have to be seen to be believed. Rock hewn churches, cave homes and incredible underground cities wait to be explored. In times of peace the people in this region lived on the land but in times of war or persecution they took to living underground.
In morning of day 13 we take a half day walk through one of the nearby valleys; it could be the Valley of Love where the rock formations will astound you or any of the other fantastic scenic routes that our leaders know. During our stay we will also enjoy a meal with a local family in their traditional home. This is a unique experience - enjoy the famous hospitality of a Turkish family and admire the spectacular views of surrounding landscapes at the same time.
There is plenty of time for discovering more of the charm of the Cappadocia region on day 14. You can trek in one of the nearby gorges, visit one of the small villages nearby, including Zelve, Urgup, Avanos or Mustafapasa.
Without a doubt one of the most amazing memories will be of your hot air balloon ride over the majestic landscape. This aerial tour of the region is with experienced operators and is an incredibly memorable experience. Note: this is an optional activity and the cost will vary depending on what type of flight you choose.
This is a world of homes hewn in rock, cave churches and underground cities - it needs to be seen to be believed. Take a hike through local valleys to get up close and personal with the amazing landscape.
In the evening of day 14 we take an overnight bus back to Istanbul ( approx. 12-13hrs ). The coach is air conditioned, modern and comfortable, has a food & beverage trolley service, and stops every 2-3hrs for toilet breaks. Please be aware that while the seats recline they are not fully reclining.
This change to the Itinerary for 2012 is due to the unexpected closure of the Istanbul to Ankara train line. Passengers who prefer not to take an overnight bus should speak to their agent or tour leader for information on how to book flights direct back to Istanbul.
Included Activities
  • Goreme - Home-cooked dinner
  • Goreme - Valley walk
Optional Activities
  • Goreme - Balloon flight (deluxe) - EUR230
  • Goreme - Balloon flight (standard) - EUR165
  • Goreme - Underground city - TRY15
  • Goreme - Open Air Museum - TRY15
  • Goreme - Anatolian folklore night - TRY47
Accommodation
Pension (2 nts), Overnight bus (1 nt)
Day 15 Istanbul
We arrive back into Istanbul this morning at approx 8.00-9:00am depending on local traffic conditions and transfer by shuttle bus back to Best Town Palace.
For your comfort and convenience day rooms are provided on this day until 12noon, for luggage storage and an opportunity to have a shower and freshen up. Once settled consider joining the rest of the group in a farewell breakfast. Otherwise there are no activities planned on this day, and you are free to depart any time after our arrival.
We recommend not booking flights any earlier than 3:00pm to allow for any delays, time to transfer to the airport, and check in time required at the airport.
  • ERSI Single supplement (ERSI)
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If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
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Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Culture shock rating

At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
Turkey and its eastern neighbours are a fascinating mixture of East and West, as Europe and Asia come together. This can, and often does, mean that you will discover a region which is different to those you have experienced before. There are strong Islamic influences throughout the region, becoming more orthodox the further east you travel. There can be very different attitudes to time-keeping, public cleanliness and service, calls to prayer at 4.30am, lack of hot water and little English spoken. Naturally, this can all test the patience but if you can see this as an exciting new challenge rather than a setback, and if you are able to travel with a lot of patience and a sense of humour, then we know that you - like all of us - will be captivated by everything that Turkey and the Middle East has to offer.
Physical rating

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
The walk along the Lycian way is on a rough track and steep in some places but suitable for the majority of our travellers.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
Optional activities
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, Intrepid has established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. Intrepid aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you.
A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
Money Exchange
The official currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TRY, although prior to 2005 the currency code was TL).
ATMs are common throughout the main cities and these are a safe and convenient way to withdraw money. Credit cards are also widely accepted. Cash in any of the major currencies (EUR, GBP and USD) is easily changed. Travellers cheques in major currencies (EUR, GBP and USD) can be changed at selected local banks but it can be time consuming and subject to high fees.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Tipping
If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest 2-3 euro per person per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however 2-3 euro per person per day is generally appropriate.
Gulet boat trips: If you are travelling through southern Turkey on a gulet boat trip we suggest 2-3 euro per person per day for the boat staff.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline 3 euro per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Departure tax
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Important notes
CHANGES TO ITINERARY:
~ During the months of March, April, October and November we will spend one night in a local pension (in Kas) instead of spending that night on the boat. This is due to the inclement weather at this time.
~ During the months of May, June and September our normal itinerary will run.
~ During the months of July and August we will spend 2 nights on the boat and will have dinner in a local village restaurant.
Our boat has shared bathroom facilities and multishare sleeping arrangements. There is limited fresh water for rinsing off salt water.
In the evening of day 14 we take an overnight bus back to Istanbul ( approx. 12-13hrs ). The coach is air conditioned, stops every 2-3hrs for toilet breaks but please be aware that while the seats recline they are not fully reclining.
This change to the Itinerary for 2012 is due to the unexpected closure of the Istanbul to Ankara train line. Passengers who prefer not to take an overnight bus should speak to their agent or tour leader for information on how to book flights direct back to Istanbul.
ISTANBUL AIRPORTS:
If booking an airport arrival transfer please inform us at the time of booking which of Istanbul's two airports you will be arriving at. Sabiha Gokcen is on the Asian shore while Ataturk Airport is on the European side and much closer to our hotels.
RAMADAN & THE EID UL-FITR FESTIVAL (BAYRAM) 2012:
In 2012 the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from the 20th July through till the 18th August, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it is a period of National holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be impacted.
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Single travellers
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A Single Supplement is available on this trip. Enquire with your agent for further information. On the following nights the Single Supplement is not available:
- Days 9-10 Overnight boat (Day 10 seasonal)
Accommodation
Hotel (8 nts), Pension (2 nts), Guesthouse (2 nts), Overnight boat (1 nt), Overnight bus (1 nt)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
CHECK-IN TIME
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
HEATING & AIR-CONDITIONING:
Please note that Turkey can have extreme weather. Winter (approx. November to February) can be very cold. Not all of our hotels have heating so consider bringing thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in this period. Summer (approx. June to August) can be very hot. Not all our hotels have air-conditioning, and in those that do, it's not always functioning. Please consider the seasons when planning your trip.
TRIPLE-SHARE ROOMS:
When we have three single female travellers or three single male travellers on a trip we occasionally make use of triple-share rooms.
Meals introduction
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
Meals
9 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 3 Dinners
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
EUR 250.00
Breakfast is generally a very simple affair and typically consists of bread, jam, tea / coffee and on occasion tomato, cucumber, and juice (or similar).
Transport
Private Bus, Bus, Gulet, Dolmus, Ferry, Taxi, Overnight bus
There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. Windy roads, rough surfaces and cramped conditions make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort.
Public buses in Turkey don't have toilets on board. Breaks are normally scheduled at rest stops every 2-3 hours.
Group leader
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point
Golden Horn Hotel (formerly Best Town Palace Hotel)
Hocapasa Mah.Istasyon Arkasi Sk. No:9
Sirceki
Istanbul
Istanbul
34112
TURKEY
Phone: +90 2125141544
Fax: +90 2125111314
Joining point description
Centrally located in the heart of the Historical Peninsula, the Best Town Palace Hotel is within walking distance of many of the area's main attractions such as: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar and Basilica Cistern. Rooms are equipped with private en-suite, air-conditioning, tv, phone & mini-fridge.
www.besttownpalace.com
**Please note that there is a hotel of a similar name 'Best Town Hotel' located just around the corner. Please check the address carefully if you are making your own way to the hotel.**
Joining point instructions
Ataturk International airport is situated 25 km west of Istanbul's city centre. The airport has several banks and ATMs open 24hrs for either withdrawals or cash advance. The quickest and easiest way to the hotel is by taxi - there are ranks outside the arrivals terminal. Insist they use the meter. The fare during the day should be approx 40TRY but up to double that for a night time journey. Airport buses leave every 30 minutes between 6.00 and 23.00 but only go as far as Aksaray (10TRY). From here you could catch the tram into Sultanahmet or you could hail a taxi.
Private airport transfers are available for pre-booking through Intrepid. Contact your agent for details. Be sure to advise which of Istanbul's two airports you will be flying to at the time of booking. Sabiha Gokcen is on the Asian shore, while Ataturk airport is on the European side (and closer to our hotel).
If you have pre-purchased a transfer, our local operator will await you holding a sign with your name as you come out the sliding doors from immigration. There are often large crowds here so please look carefully for your transfer representative. If you cannot find your driver, please call our Intrepid Istanbul office on one of the following numbers:
Office: +90 212 512 7144
Mob: +90 532 641 2822
Mob: +90 539 243 0185
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Finish point
Golden Horn Hotel (formerly Best Town Palace Hotel)
Hocapasa Mah.Istasyon Arkasi Sk. No:9
Sirceki
Istanbul
Istanbul
34112
TURKEY
Phone: +90 2125141544
Fax: +90 2125111314
Finish point description
Centrally located in the heart of the Historical Peninsula, the Best Town Palace Hotel is within walking distance of many of the area's main attractions such as: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar and Basilica Cistern. Rooms are equipped with private en-suite, air-conditioning, tv, phone & mini-fridge.
www.besttownpalace.com
**Please note that there is a hotel of a similar name 'Best Town Hotel' located just around the corner. Please check the address carefully if you are making your own way to the hotel.**
Finish point instructions
Taxis can easily be hailed to the airport and cost approx 40TRY.
Private airport transfers are available for pre-booking through Intrepid. Contact your agent for details. Be sure to advise which of Istanbul's two airports you will be flying from at the time of booking. Sabiha Gokcen is on the Asian shore, while Ataturk airport is on the European side (and closer to our hotel).
If you have any problems with departure transfers please contact our Intrepid Istanbul office on one of the following numbers:
Office: +90 212 512 7144
Mob: +90 532 641 6514
Mob: +90 532 641 9056
Emergency contact
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency only, Intrepid's Istanbul Operations team can be reached on the following numbers:
- Office: +90 (0) 212 512 7144
- Mobile: +90 (0) 532 641 2822
For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
TURKEY (ALL TRIPS):
Australia: Yes - on arrival
Belgium: Yes - on arrival
Canada: Yes - on arrival
Germany: No - not required
Ireland: Yes - on arrival
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: Yes - on arrival
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
USA: Yes - on arrival
Visa costs can change depending on the political climate of the region. For Turkey, an entry visa is required for citizens of the following countries (not limited to this list):
- USA (US$60),
- Canada (US$60 on arrival; CAD$75 for advance application)
- U.K. (US$60; GBP45 for advance application)
- Australia (US$60 on arrival)
- Austria, Belgium, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Portugal & Spain (varies from US$10-100)
The visa costs can change at any time and with little notice depending on the political climate of the region.
A valid passport is sufficient for citizens of most other countries including New Zealand, Argentina, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland for stays up to 3 months. All other nationalities please check with your nearest Turkish embassy.
Generally visas can easily be attained on arrival although sometimes the lines for these can be quite long. Visas obtained on entry must be paid in cash in US$ or EUR so ensure you have some on hand. It is also possible to pay by Credit Card however passenger feedback suggests this is not very reliable. Depending on your nationality, visas are either valid for 3 months or 1 year.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
CLOTHING & CLIMATE:
Temperatures are highly variable depending on the time of year and the region you are travelling in. Winters range from freezing in the central and eastern areas, cold in Istanbul and relatively mild on the west coast. Summer (June to August) can be extremely hot all over the country. Spring and autumn tend towards warm days and cooler nights. A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat essential. You will always need a towel.
WATER BOTTLE:
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
BEDDING:
Many hotels and pensions in Turkey do not supply a top sheet and there is only a rough, thick throw on the beds. You may wish to bring your own if you think you will be more comfortable, particularly in the hot summer months.
Health
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Safety
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
BALCONIES:
Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
SEAT BELTS:
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
WATER SAFETY:
Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative and you should dress accordingly. To respect the local culture and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. As a guideline, shoulders and knees at the minimum (and everything in between including midriff and cleavage) should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts and singlet tops is not appropriate and may well restrict your entry into sites of a religious nature, family homes, and will limit your local interaction opportunities in general. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly warm climate.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Turkey include:
* Mavi Kalem provides the children of rural immigrants, in the poorer areas of Eastern Turkey, with additional weekly classes through its Children's Education Program. These lessons, by trained teachers in all areas of formal education, give unprecedented educational opportunities in a region where the uneducated face limited prospects.
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 536.00 kgs per pax.
Feedback
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.