Wednesday Aug,  6 - Tuesday  Aug 19, 2008


Day 1 - Wednesday, August 6 , 2008 ISTANBUL
The tour starts with a group meeting in Istanbul in the lobby of Hotel Ayasofya at 5:00 PM.
Dinner at a nearby Resturant
Overnight at Hotel Ayasofya

Day 2 - Thursday,August 7  2008 TRABZON
Early morning flight to Trabzon.
Drive to Sumela Monastary Sumela, also known as the Monastary of the Virgin. It has been said that it is neither on earth nor in heaven. Carved on the slope of a mountain, it looks like a nine story high building hanging down from the clouds and sitting on the top of the forest. A short hike through the rain forest will leave no question in your mind about where you are in Turkey, The Black Sea Region.
Visit the city of Trabzon in the afternoon.
After the crusaders invaded Constantinople in 1204, Trabzon became the capital of the Byzantine empire for a short time. Longing for the grandeur of Constantinople, in Trabzon, they imitated the Churches of their beloved city in a smaller scale. St. Sophia of Trabzon though much smaller will leave with you the same sense of religious devotion as the original one in Istanbul.
Overnight at Horon Hotel Trabzon

Day 3 - Friday, August 8, 2008 AYDER
Once we leave Trabzon and drive East, our bus will look like it is caught between the Black Sea and the steep slopes of the mountains. The scattered houses in the villages on the green slopes of these mountains look nothing like the architecture of the rest of the country. We will make a few house visits to get a better understanding of their lifestyles.
The village that we are heading to today is known for an excellent spa. We will enjoy the natural hot waters with the locals. Watching the locals dance and sing tonight will probably be one of the highlights of the tour.
Overnight at Hotel Saray in Ayder  or a family run bed and breakfast
Hotel Saray means Hotel Palace but please expect the minimal hotel up here. It is clean but the bathroom and showers are down the hall, not in the rooms.

Day 4 - Saturday, August 09, 2008 RIZE
The people of the Black Sea have villages on at least three levels of the mountains. During the winter they live by the sea. During the early part of the summer they move up higher where Ayder is. Later in the season they go literally over the clouds. Such places are called "Yayla." Today we will drive up to the yayla of Ayder. If you are a lover of nature you will say that this day alone gives you your money's worth of this tour. Since our bus can not go beyond Ayder we will be driving both ways in small mini-buses. Those who are interested in hiking can walk down hill to enjoy the nature more. To avoid spending two nights at the very basic hotel we will go all the way down to the shore and stay overnight in Rize.
Overnight at Rize at Asnur Hotel

Day 5 - Sunday, Aug 10, 2008 ARTVIN
Drive to the Georgian Border.
For 75 years the communist regime of the Soviets banned people from going outside the boundaries of the Iron Curtain. Since the fall of the Communist Soviet Empire, this border has been very busy with people trying to get into Turkey to sell everything they have. Along the way, we will see what is called the Russian Markets and there, we will be able to see the falling economy of the former Soviet people and how desperate they are.
Over the mountains of the Black Sea we will leave the last sight of the sea behinds us and drive south to the highest city in Turkey. Artvin looks like an eagle's nest. If you do not feel too exhausted in the late afternoon we will drive to another mountain top to see Georgian Churches from the 11th century.
Overnight at Hotel Karahan, Artvin

Day 6 -Monday, Aug 11, 2008 KARS
Once the Caravans of the Silk Road used the road that we will take toward Kars via the Lonely Pine Forest. This is the name of the forest and the name is very appropriate for the location of this wonderful region at an altitude of 7,000 feet. By sunset, we will be driving by a lake which will be catching the last rays of the sun as we drive into Kars.
Overnight at Hotel Sim-Er.

Day 7 - Tueasday, Aug 12, 2008 KARS
Kars is farthest eastern city of Turkey on the Armenian border. This city with its imposing fortress cries out that she has been a frontier city for all ages. Visit the bridge that was made to survive centuries with egg white in its mortar.
Drive 23 miles to the border town of Ani, the 10th century capital of Armenia. The city walls of red stone will make you feel like you might be walking into a movie set. But when you see the cathedrals, churches, temples dedicated in Zoastrian deities, caravansarai and the Silk Road, you will realize that you are actually walking in the time tunnel of hundreds of years.
Visit the village house closest to the border of Turkey. Find out how one can live by raising ducks.

Day 8 - Wednesday, Aug 13, 2008 ERZURUM
Leave Kars after Breakfast and drive southwest to Erzurum. Of great interest will be the villages of stone houses and black sheep on green meadows. Of even more interest will be the time we will spend with the villagers visiting their homes to find out what it means to be living in those mountains.
Arrive in Erzurum in the  late afternoon. overnight at Oral Hotel

Day 9 - Thursday, Aug 14, 2008 ERZURUM
Visit a nearby village. See a hay, duck and dung economy.
People in Erzurum are very loyal to their cuisine. Lunch will give us an opportunity to taste what the people of Erzurum have been eating for hundreds of years.
Visit the 12th century Medrese (a Seljukian School). Talk with the imam at the 12th century Mosque and enjoy the ethnographic museum.
Visit an old caravan stop where the local black stone is mounted in silver and gold by the local artists in the most aesthetic art form.
Dinner at the hotel.
Overnight in Oral Otel

Day 10 - Friday, Aug 15, 2008 DOGUBEYAZIT
Free time in the morning. leave the hotel at 10:00
Drive east from Erzurum to Igdir then south to Dogubayazit. Have a picnic lunch at a spectacular site. Arrive by Mount Ararat to enjoy its grandeur before sunset.
Dinner and overnight at Hotel Simer, Dogubeyazit

Day 11 - Saturday, Aug 16, 2008 VAN
As the sun rises over the planes of Iran, Mount Ararat catches the light of the new day before you can see the sun. The halo on the peak will be a spiritual experience as you sip your coffee on the balcony of your hotel.
Visit Noah's ark. See a village which for hundreds of years lived with Mount Ararat as a backdrop.
Mail your post cards from the eastern most post office that you can find in Turkey on the Iranian border. See the miles of petrol tanks coming from Iran to put the economic reality of the region in a different perspective.
After lunch visit a palace which is like an experiment model for an architect trying to put the architectural features of all those who had run caravans on the Silk Road. Iranian gateways, Ottoman domes, Baroque harem rooms, Armenian stonework, Georgian reliefs will be captured in your pictures as a proof of synthesis of civilizations.
Drive south to Van.
At the 3,000 year old Van castle, we will watch the sun set as we enjoy our wine sitting at the alter of the Urartu Sun Goddess appreciating the good choice of the location for this deity.
Dinner and overnight at Hotel MERIT, Van

Day 12 - Sunday, Aug 17, 2008 VAN
Visit the Van ethnographic museum in the morning.
Drive to a meadow to watch local folk dancers. Have a picnic lunch with the dancers and talk to these Kurdish students.
In our private boat, sail to the island in the middle of Lake Van and feel the excitement of the masons carving the scenes from the Old Testament and the New Testament on the walls of this church 1,100 years ago. With the snow in the mountains and blooming almond trees, try to understand how the word white can have different meanings. Swim in the clear waters of the lake.
Return to Van to see an amazing Kilim collection.
Dinner and overnight at Hotel MERIT, Van

Day 13 - Monday, Aug  18, 2008 ISTANBUL
Fly from Van to Istanbul.
Free time in the afternoon.
Farewell dinner.
Overnight at Hotel Ayasofya

Day 14 - Tuesday, Aug 19, 2008
The tour will be over after breakfast.

Tour Price

TCost of this tour is US$2,800. See below for details.
Single Room Supplement US$ 450.

  • 13 nights hotel, double occupancy
  • The flights from Istanbul to Trabzon and from Van to Istanbul
  • All meals
  • All entrance fees
  • Tips at the hotels and the restaurants
  • All transportation
  • Guide

Itinerary / Hotel / Arrival Info / Map /Frequently Asked Questions /Turkish Phrases