||Scheduled Departure & Sample Itinerary & Trip Extension
Infinitely fascinating, eastern Turkey vaults you back in time a couple of thousand years. It was through these wild and desolate landscapes that Hittites, Urartus, Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans, Persians, Arabs, Byzantines, Ottomans, Kurds, and Armenians passed, leaving behind palaces, mosques, madresahs, caravanserais, churches, and monasteries. On this 13-day journey, we take in deserted plains marked by jagged peaks, rolling plateaus, clear lakes, and extinct volcanoes, gaining insight into the area’s ancient and modern cultures.
We fly east from Istanbul to Gaziantep, Turkey’s gastronomic capital. Delectable explorations ensue, including an excursion to half-sunken villages on the Euphrates. We advance to Mount Nemrut to stroll among its UNESCO World Heritage Site statues, then onto Şanlıurfa, a beguiling mix of old and new. We wind through the narrow streets and stepped passageways of honey-hued, hillside Mardin, and ply Lake Van’s waters to reach Akdamar Island and its magnificently frescoed Armenian church. Before returning to Istanbul we get a good look at Ishak Pasa, a palace in Dogubeyazit adored for its amalgam of Seljuk, Ottoman, Georgian, Persian, and Armenian architectural styles, and travel below Mount Ararat to the ruins of Ani, the former Armenian capital.
Itinerary at a Glance
- Day 1: arrive in Istanbul, fly to Gaziantep
- Day 2: boat excursion along the Euphrates to Rumkale Castle, Gaziantep
- Day 3: drive to Kahta, visit Arsemia and Mount Nemrut
- Day 4: drive to Şanliurfa (City of Prophets)
- Day 5: Şanlıurfa mosques, hammams, and caravanserais; Göbeklitepe archaeological site
- Days 6 & 7: explore Harran, Mardin, and Savur
- Day 8: drive to Tatvan via perched village of Hasankeyf
- Days 9 & 10: explore Van, boat excursion on Lake Van to Akdamar Island
- Day 11: drive to Kars via Ishak Pasa palace
- Day 12: tour ruins of Ani, fly to Istanbul
- Day 13: depart Istanbul.