Tour Spotlight: Eastern Borders of Turkey
So you are looking for an experience that is off the beaten track and you want to leave the tourist path behind. Well, look no further than our Eastern Borders of Turkey tour. This tour offers it all; adventure, rich cultural unheard of experiences and breathtaking scenery.
Beginning in the lush mountains of the Black Sea region, travel across arid plains, past crumbled villages and deep blue lakes. With its broad vistas and dramatic scenery, its ubiquitous borders, and a fascinating history and culture, this trip gives a truly varied insight into a part of Turkey rarely seen by foreign visitors.
The tangle of ancient and current cultures will intrigue you as you visit evocative, historical sites such as the ancient Armenian capital of Ani, the Byzantine masterpiece that is Sumela Monastery, the Ishak Pasa Palace, the architecture of Mardin and many seldom visited spots such as Lake Çildir and the remote Georgian churches and fortresses in the northeast. Mount Ararat at 5137m dominates the Iranian border and Lake Van, vast and mountain encircled, feeds the plains near the Iraqi frontier.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights…
Historically known as Constantinople and Byzantium, is the most populous city in Turkey and the country’s economic, cultural, and historic center. The day is yours to explore at your leisure. Are you going to head to the world-famous Grand Bazaar and try some of the local delicacies or pick up a some of the beautiful handmade decor items that Turkey is known for? Istanbul is primarily known for its Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, but its buildings reflect the various peoples and empires that have previously ruled the city. Why not walk the city and take in some of the beautiful designs and architecture from days gone by as well as the modern era. Have your camera ready, there is sure to be some street photography opportunities along the way.
Visit Sumela Monastery on Day 3
Nestled in a steep cliff at an altitude of about 1,200 metres facing the Altindere valley, Sumela Monastery is a site of great historical and cultural significance, within the Altindere National Park. The monastery was founded in AD 386 during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I (375 – 395), Barnabas and Sophronios, two Athenian monks, founded the monastery. It became famous for an icon of the Virgin Mary known as the Panagia Gorgoepekoos, said to have been painted by the Apostle Luke. During the 2015-2017 restoration works, a secret tunnel was discovered which lead to a place which is believed to have served as a temple or chapel for Christians. Also, unseen frescoes were discovered depicting heaven and hell as well as life and death.
Enjoy a Turkish Van Breakfast on Day 9
A lavish breakfast awaits you this morning. A traditional Turkish ‘Van Breakfast’ which consists of at least 20 different dishes, such as herbal cheese (made with a mixture of various herbs unique to the region), martuga (a delicious pastry made with flour, butter and egg), and kavut (a sweet porridge made from pan-roasted barley flour and ground wheat). If you are not a morning breakfast person then after sampling a Van Breakfast we may just change your mind about breakfast being the best meal of the day!
Sunset at Mount Nemrut on Day 12
Crowning one of the highest peaks of the Eastern Taurus mountain range in south-east Turkey, Mount Nemrut is the Hierotheseion (temple-tomb and house of the gods) built by the late Hellenistic King Antiochos I of Commagene (69-34 B.C.) as a monument to himself. With a diameter of 145 m, the 50 m high funerary mound of stone chips is surrounded on three sides by terraces to the east, west and north directions. Two separate antique processional routes radiate from the east and west terraces. Five giant seated limestone statues, identified by their inscriptions as deities, face outwards from the tumulus on the upper level of the east and west terraces. These are flanked by a pair of guardian animal statues – a lion and eagle – at each end. This site is UNESCO World Heritage listed and is sure to be a visit you will remember.
Make this experience yours and join our next Eastern Borders of Turkey small group.
Alternatively, if you would like to design your own tour to this part of the world (or anywhere!) then please get in contact with us. Tours By Design are a Crooked Compass speciality; we would love to help you customise your own tour personalised precisely to your style.
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.