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 Izmir 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. Then venture into the ancient
Underground Cistern, also known as the Sunken
Palace, an important water source during the
Byzantine era. After lunch at a local restaurant,
visit the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I, known as the
Blue Mosque for the blue Iznik tiles that line its
interior. Continue to the Hippodrome, the site of
coronations and chariot races. Then, meander through the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest
covered marketplaces in the world.
Divan Istanbul (B,L)
Set out for the Topkapı Palace, the opulent
residence of Ottoman sultans for four centuries.
After lunch, visit the Ottoman imperial Süleymaniye
Mosque. Then, examine a vast array of artifacts at
the Istanbul Archaeological Museums. 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.
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 and 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 practice.
Hotel CaveDeluxe (B,L,D)
Rise before dawn for an optional hot-air balloon
excursion over this unique landscape. Then tour
the Göreme Open Air Museum, a vast monastic
complex of frescoed medieval cave churches cut
into the tuff. Visit the eight-story-deep underground
city of Kaymakli, 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 studio and later, set out on an easy
hike through Cappadocia’s Red Valley.
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 Izmir. 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 Sirince, 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, a traditional wooden sailing yacht. Swim and snorkel or simply relax on deck, taking in the stunning views. Tonight, gather for a festive farewell dinner in Bodrum.
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 Turkish life have won two international and four Turkish documentary film awards.
Aydin will join the following departures:
Sep 05 - 15, 2013
Sep 28 - Oct 08, 2013
Oct 10 - 20, 2013
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $2,200. The optional hot-air balloon excursion on Day 6 is $300 per person. Airfare is not included in the expedition cost. Economy airfare from New York to Istanbul and return from Bodrum is from $800, and flights within Turkey are $600 (subject to change).