Poised at the crossroads between East and West, Turkey is graced with a stunning coastline; picturesque villages; and a unique cultural legacy shaped by the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires. Our journey begins in enchanting Istanbul. Experience the otherworldly moonscape of Cappadocia, stroll through ancient Ephesus, and then soak up the rhythms of everyday life as you explore the Aegean coast from İzmir to Bodrum.
Depart on an overnight flight to Istanbul, the
capital of three empires: Roman, Byzantine, and
Ottoman. After time to get settled this afternoon,
gather for a welcome dinner.
Divan Istanbul (D)
Delve into this fabulous city today. Visit the
iconic Hagia Sofia, built as a church by Emperor
Justinian in the sixth century and converted to a
mosque some 900 years later. Here, beneath the
minarets and buttresses added by the Ottomans,
discover the hidden mosaics of the original
Byzantine structure. Continue to the Hippodrome,
the site of coronations and chariot races. Then
visit the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I, known as the
Blue Mosque for the blue Iznik tiles that line its
interior. After lunch at a local restaurant, venture
into the ancient Underground Cistern, also known
as the Sunken Palace, an important water source
during the Byzantine era. Later, examine a vast
array of artifacts at the Istanbul Archaeological
Museums, and meander through the Grand
Bazaar, one of the largest covered marketplaces in
Divan Istanbul (B,L)
Spend the morning at the Topkapı Palace, the
opulent residence of Ottoman sultans for four
centuries. After lunch, visit the Ottoman imperial
Süleymaniye Mosque. From there, explore Rüstem
Pasha Mosque, a treasure trove of exquisite Iznik
tiles, and visit the nearby spice market. Later, enjoy a sunset Bosporus cruise, followed by dinner on the waterfront.
Divan Istanbul (B,L,D)
Fly to Kayseri, and continue overland to the
UNESCO World Heritage site of Cappadocia. This
surreal volcanic moonscape, whittled into unique
formations by wind and rain over millions of years,
is characterized by clusters of natural stone pillars
and cones known as fairy chimneys. In the third
century, Christians fleeing Roman persecution
carved churches and entire villages into niches in
the tuff stone. Enjoy a specially arranged lunch in
a private home. Then tour the Göreme Open Air Museum, a vast monastic complex of frescoed
medieval cave churches cut into the tuff. Later,
take in a performance of whirling dervishes—
mystical Sufi dancers who spin themselves into a
spiritual trance. Following the performance, enjoy
a rare opportunity to sit down with one of the
dervishes for a conversation about his faith and
Hotel CaveDeluxe (B,L,D)
Rise before dawn for an optional hot air balloon
excursion over this unique landscape. Then set
out on an easy hike through Cappadocia’s Red
Valley. Visit the eight-story-deep underground city
of Kaymaklı, dating back to the era of the Hittites.
This afternoon, drive to Pasabağ, formerly known as Monks’ Valley, to see some of the most diverse fairy chimneys up close. Visit a local pottery cooperative before returning to the hotel for dinner and a talk by our expert.
Hotel CaveDeluxe (B,L,D)
Take advantage of a leisurely morning to explore on your own. Then transfer back to Kayseri for a flight to İzmir. Settle into our hotel overlooking the Kordon promenade on the Aegean Sea.
Swissôtel Grand Efes (B)
Spend the day in Ephesus, once home to the
Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of
the ancient world. Explore one of the best
preserved Greco-Roman cities, from its Great
Theater and Terrace Houses to its elaborate water
systems and beautiful mosaics. Visit the house
where the Virgin Mary is believed to have lived
during her final years. Later, continue to Şirince, a
lovely hillside village where Ottoman houses are
nestled against a backdrop of vineyards and olive
groves. Wander the cobblestoned lanes, stopping
in at wineries to sample local vintages.
Swissôtel Grand Efes (B,L)
Travel to Bodrum, a charming port town and an
important center for underwater archaeology. Meet
researchers at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology
(INA), where numerous National Geographic
grantees have based their studies—including
current INA president Deborah Carlson and INA
founder George Bass. On a tour of the conservation
laboratory, get a behind-the-scenes look at
some of the recent finds, and the conservation work being done to preserve ancient artifacts.
The Marmara Bodrum (B,L,D)
The Castle of St. Peter, a 15th-century crusader
fortress, now houses the Museum of Underwater
Archaeology—an impressive collection of relics
excavated from ancient shipwrecks found along
the Turkish coast. Visit new buildings dedicated
to Bronze Age and “glass wreck” excavations
supported by National Geographic. This afternoon,
glide along the spectacular Aegean coast in
a privately chartered gulet. Swim and snorkel or
simply relax on deck, taking in the stunning views.
Tonight, gather for a festive farewell dinner in
The Marmara Bodrum (B,L,D)
Transfer to the airport for your flights home.
Aydin Kudu—photographer, filmmaker, and native Turk—serves as a consultant to National Geographic magazine photographers and writers on assignment in Turkey, providing invaluable access and interpreting his country's rich culture and history. He has accompanied National Geographic television crews, as well as scientists working on Society-funded archaeological expeditions. Aydin's photography has been exhibited in multiple cities, and his films documenting life, the environment, and social issues in Turkey have won three international and six Turkish documentary film awards.
Aydin will join the following departures:
May 22 - Jun 01, 2014
Sep 10 - 20, 2014
Sep 25 - Oct 05, 2014
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $2,250. The optional hot air balloon excursion on Day 6 is $300 per person.
International airfare to Turkey and return from Bodrum and airfare within Turkey is not included in the expedition cost. Group flights within Turkey are $650 (subject to change).