Turkey & Greek Islands Trip Notes

Turkey & Greek Islands

Last Modified: 16 Dec 2012
Turkey & Greek Islands
Trip code: ERSG
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
Set sail on this journey through Turkey and Greece. Start in one of the greatest cities on earth - Istanbul - home to a multitude of mosques and a mecca of markets. Travel down the coast of Turkey before heading out on the azure waters of the Aegean on an island-hopping adventure. Visit the Greek islands of Lesvos, Chios and Rhodes before returning to Turkey. Stop off in seaside towns, wander through ancient Ephesus and dip your feet in the thermal waters of Pamukkale, before heading north back to Istanbul where this journey will come full circle.
TRIP CHANGE AS OF 23 JUNE 2012:
For all departures from the 23rd of June 2012 we have slightly altered this Itinerary by reshuffling the order which we visit Selcuk & Fethiye. This change is to reduce unnecessary travel time and maximize our time in each place. This change will not affect any of the included activities on this trip.
The new Itinerary is as follows:
Days 1-2 Istanbul
Day 3 Ayvalik
Days 4-5 Lesvos
Days 6-8 Chois
Days 9-10 Selcuk
Days 11-13 Fethiye
Day 14 Pamukkale and then overnight bus back to Istanbul
Day 15 Trip finishes in Istanbul
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
Turkey & Greek Islands
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.
Before the meeting if you have time, consider exploring some of the Sultanahmet area, including the Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar. Please ensure you are dressed appropriately to visit the Mosque should you wish to enter. It is considered good custom to make a small donation of 1TL to the mosque after the visit. The mosque uses this money to help those of the congregation who are in need.
This morning we set out on a walking tour to discover some of the hidden charms of Istanbul, the city that bridges Europe and Asia. We explore some of the city's dazzling array of cultural and historical sites and also 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.
Included Activities
  • Istanbul - Leader-led walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Istanbul - Bosphorus boat cruise - TRY10
  • Istanbul - Galata Tower - TRY12
  • Istanbul - Topkapi Palace (incl. harem) - TRY35
  • Istanbul - Basilica Cistern - TRY10
  • Istanbul - Aya Sofia - TRY20
  • Istanbul - Turkish baths - TRY30
Day 3 Ayvalik
Today we catch a ferry and then a bus to Ayvalik (approx. 7.5hrs) arriving in the evening. The charming village is set around a harbour and looks out to small Aegean islands, a wonderful place to escape from it all. The cobbled back-streets with their old houses and cafes are perfect for exploring. Venture into town for a bite to eat, perhaps fresh fish with local olives.
In Ayvalik we stay in a family guesthouse with shared facilities. This is a traditional Turkish pension and is a beautiful building filled with history and character. Due to the nature of the building we occasionally are required to accommodate people in triple share here. No rooms have en suite however there are plenty of bathroom facilities for the group.
Included Activities
  • Cop Madam visit optional
Days 4-5 Lesvos
This morning we head out on a local boat from Ayvalik for a short trip to Alibey Island. Chat with the locals and just relax taking in the scenery. The round trip should take approx 1.5hrs.
This afternoon we make our way to the international ferry station where we board a ferry to Lesvos (approx 2.5hrs), perhaps trying the local speciality Ayvalik toast on the way. We should arrive in Lesvos around 6.30pm this evening.
Tonight we stay in a typical Greek style guesthouse which is centrally located.
On day 5 after breakfast, join your leader on an orientation walk of the town and visit the castle of Lesvos. In the afternoon consider a day trip to the island's famous churches, wander the old town, go shopping and of course sample the wonderful Greek food.
Famous as the home of the poet Sappho, Lesvos is a favourite destination for artists, writers and romantics. This third-largest of the Greek islands contains some of the best art museums in Greece, as well as hot springs which have been used in treatments for various ailments for thousands of years.
Included Activities
  • Boat Trip in Ayvalik
  • Lesvos Castle
Optional Activities
  • Thermal baths - EUR2
Days 6-8 Chios
Today is free to enjoy more of Lesvos. Consider a trip to visit the old town of Mytilini and its wonderful museums or just relax on the fabulous beaches, or even the thermal baths. We depart Lesvos in the late afternoon bound for Chios by ferry (approx. 3.5hrs)
On day 7 we take a walking tour through the 14th century medieval town of Mesta, visiting the wonderful streets and the great church of Taxiarchis. Later in the afternoon we will get to experience how mastic is cultivated from the indigenous mastic tree (the only place in the world where mastic is produced). Mastic is used as a food spice, in cosmetics, and even in medicinal goods.
Day 8 is a free day to explore more of beautiful Chios. Consider exploring the Byzantine castle, visit the Nea Moni Monastery built by Constantine which is dedicated to the Mother of God and is the scene of the 1822 tragedy, or hire a bike and head to the beach.
Included Activities
  • Mastic Tour
Optional Activities
  • Archeology Museum Chios - EUR2
  • Cycling - EUR5
  • Dancing class - EUR12
Days 9-10 Selcuk
Today we travel we by bus to the town of Selcuk (approx.3hrs), our base for discovering Ephesus, former capital of the East Roman Empire and the best preserved ancient city in Turkey.
The afternoon is free to explore Selcuk and the surrounds. 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.
Selcuk is steeped in culture and retains many Turkish traditions. The town itself is usually undisturbed, which gives the opportunity to experience the 'real' Turkey. On the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill lie several historical buildings, including the Isa Bey Mosque and the Grand Fortress. Selcuk is also home to one of the ancient world's Seven Wonders – the Temple of Artemis – although, sadly, only a single pylon remains.
On day 10 we make our way to Ephesus admiring the amphitheatre and famous library before learning how to make a Turkish favourite, gozleme - thin, flaky pastry filled with local ingredients such as spinach and feta cheese
Ephesus is the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean and Turkey's premier tourist site. Once the capital city of Roman Asia Minor, the city has a fascinating history spanning over 1,500 years, which comes alive with a local guide to enhance the experience. You will be awed by the sophistication of this ancient city, which had running water, public toilets, a renowned medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is well preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but it's perhaps the magnificent library that takes most people's breath away.
Included Activities
  • Selcuk - Ephesus Archaeological site
  • Selcuk - Gozleme making demonstration and lunch
Days 11-13 Fethiye
Today we travel by bus to Fethiye, arriving early afternoon (approx 5 hours).
This afternoon is a free afternoon to explore Fethiye. Check out Salikent Gorge, discover the ghost city of Kayakoy or chill out on Olundeniz beach.
Kayakoy was once a ghost village, its ancient stone houses abandoned after their Greek inhabitants left Turkey during the great population exchange of the 1920s. Now protected by the Turkish government, it provides the opportunity to enjoy a quiet, traditional Turkish lifestyle. This small village is a good base to explore the many attractions of this scenic section of the Mediterranean coast, including the resort town of Fethiye and the famous Blue Lagoon.
Open 24 hours, the ghost village has an entrance fee which helps towards the upkeep of the paths and rubbish clearance. One church in the lower area of the village, Kataponagia, is of particular interest due to an interesting room out the back - it was used to collect the bones of the dead. Wander the ruins and enjoy the solitude.
The island of Rhodes is absolutely gorgeous. The Old Town is the largest inhabited medieval town in Europe and its mighty fortifications are among the finest surviving examples of the defensive architecture of the time. There are some great swimming options near the town, which is also home to many bars that buzz with locals in the summer months.
Day 12 we have an early start so we can take a ferry to Rhodes (approx. 2hrs). We explore the old town and visit the majestic Palace of the Grand Master (also known as the Rhodes Castello), which in the past acted as the town's last line of defence, and was once occupied by the Knights of St John.
Day 13 is a full free day to explore or relax at your leisure.
Included Activities
  • Kayakoy - Lycian Hike
  • Kayakoy Ghost Village
  • Palace of the Grand Master
  • Rhodes Castle
Optional Activities
  • Archaeological Museum - EUR6
Day 14 Pamukkale
A journey by bus (approx 3.5hrs) inland through mountainous landscapes brings us to one of Turkey's most photographed sites - the gleaming white travertine terraces of Pamukkale. These are created from limestone deposits, formed when water from the hot springs loses carbon dioxide. These layers of white calcium carbonate have earned Pamukkale the nickname 'cotton castles' and 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, we can still walk through them (no shoes please!) and bathe in healing thermal springs at the nearby Roman site of Hierapolis, which has some 20 different mineral properties. Home to an oracle at one time, a well-preserved Roman theatre still remains here. Wander the colonnaded streets and discover the necropolis with its many unique tombs looking every bit like a scene from Judgement Day.
In the late afternoon we catch an overnight bus to Istanbul. The seats are reclining airline style, and the bus stops every few hours at rest stops. Bus services in Turkey are excellent by world class standards.
It is possible to book a flight for this journey if you would prefer. A number of flight services run between Denizli and Istanbul. A flight would be at your own expense, and can be purchased on arrival to Istanbul (ask your group leader to assist), or online: http://www.thy.com/en-INT/index.aspx To avoid missing any of the group activities, we recommend you book this flight for the morning of Day 14 of your trip. This will require an extra night's stay in Pamukkale and also transfers both to and from the various airports. Your group leader will help you organise these things for you, again at your own expense. (The cost of these extra services will be determinant on the number of passengers sharing the transfer service but budget approx. TRY60 pp). Please let your group leader know if you are taking this option at the group meeting so as to give time to make the necessary arrangements.
There is currently engineering works on an equivalent overnight train journey for this leg. As soon as the train line re-opens we will start taking the train.
Included Activities
  • Pamukkale - Hierapolis & Travertines National Park
Optional Activities
  • Flight from Denizli to Istanbul (prices from approx) - TRY200
Day 15 Istanbul
We arrive back into Istanbul at approx 9:00am (subject to delays).
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 train arrival delays, time to transfer to the airport, and check in time required at the airport.
  • ERSG Single supplement (ERSG)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Athens to Santorini (ZMSE)
  • Best of Turkey (ERSI)
  • Santorini to Athens (ZMSA)
  • The Greek Islands (ZMSWC)
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.
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.
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
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, please ask your booking agent for more information.
Accommodation
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.
CHIOS:
Accommodation in Chios may be multishare and/or with shared facilities.
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
8 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch
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 450.00
Transport
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 TRANSPORT IN GREECE:
Ferry strikes, bad weather and the general unpredictable nature of Greek public transport means you need to be prepared for possible delays and itinerary changes.
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
Hatay Hotel
Nobethane cad. Serdar sokak no 5/7
Sirkeci
Istanbul
Istanbul
34110
TURKEY
Phone: +90 212 5270404
Fax: +90 212 5270407
Joining point description
Located in the heart of Sirkeci, Hatay Hotel is in close proximity to a great selection of restaurants, cafes and shops and only a few minutes walk to the Bosphorus.
Please note that on occasions due to shortage of availability you may be accommodated in the adjoining Antioch Hotel, which is in the same hotel rating category and under the same management.
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 TRY40 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. You could also take the light rail from the airport to Aksaray and then walk to the tram line and catch tram to the eminonu stop. From there the hotel is a 5 min walk. The tram and train will cost you 1.75TRY for each ride.
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
Hatay Hotel
Nobethane cad. Serdar sokak no 5/7
Sirkeci
Istanbul
Istanbul
34110
TURKEY
Phone: +90 212 5270404
Fax: +90 212 5270407
Finish point description
Located in the heart of Sirkeci, Hatay Hotel is in close proximity to a great selection of restaurants, cafes and shops and only a few minutes walk to the Bosphorus.
Please note that on occasions due to shortage of availability you may be accommodated in the adjoining Antioch Hotel, which is in the same hotel rating category and under the same management.
Finish point instructions
Taxis can easily be hailed to the airport and cost approx TRY40.
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.
GREECE:
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Not required
UK: Not required
USA: Not required
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.