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The Silk Road

T u r k e y  101

Spiritual Tours

SierraClub Tours

Special Interest
    T o u r s

Educational-University Tours

Sierra Club Tours
2003 Western Turkey Tour

Cappadocia Landscape


Discover Turkish History and Culture

Meet Turkish Environmental Organizations

Our world is smaller than we used to believe. The development crawling over the nature and destruction of the environment is faster than the world can take. Sierra Club and many organizations around the world as well as in Turkey are concerned about preserving Wilderness areas in their natural state.

On this tour the Turkish environmental groups meet with the Sierra Club members and exchange information on what they do for their struggle to leave a better world for our children.

These Turkish organizations are a major force in the conservation arena, fighting against erosion, for clean air and more efficient use of fuel and non replenishable resources. Like the Sierra Club they raise serious questions about nuclear power plants and disposal of toxic waste.

We will also hike to ancient sites and have picnics under the red pine forests of the Toros mountains. We will meet the people in their villages and visit their homes.



Links to Turkish Environmental Organizations


Tour Dates 

Saturday, September 20, 2003 - Friday, October 03, 2003

The Sierra Club Tours are organized for SIERRA CLUB Members. You must be a member of the Sierra Club to take this tour. You may join at the time you sign up for the tour. Memberships start at $35 a year ($43 for a joint membership).
The October 2003 Sierra Club tour will be led by Pritpal Singh Kochhar "Pepi"

Tour Price
Price: $2,395 (14-18)/
          $2,595 (13 or fewer); 
          Dep: $200

For pricing information and application procedures contact
Pritpal Singh Kochhar at or John Bird at You can contact Kern by phone  or John at 510-223-7065.



Arrival Suggestions:

US citizens need a visa to travel in Turkey. You may obtain this visa upon your arrival at the Istanbul airport. The fee is $100  in US currency. The visa is valid for three months.

We can arrange individual transfers from the airport to the hotel. Please let us know your arrival information. Look for a MELITOUR sign at the departure from the customs area at the airport.

If you plan to arrive a few days before the tour to get over jet lag we can reserve a room at Hotel Ayasofya (Single US$50, Double US$70)

We can suggest itineraries for those who want to explore on their own or with a guide before or after the tour. Simply send us an e-mail with your request.

In case of unexpected delay or change of flight, should there be a problem in meeting the person who should be waiting for you at the airport please call Hotel Ayasofya at 0212-51694-46 or take a taxi to Hotel Ayasofya. Your taxi fare will be refunded.

Hotel Ayasofya
Kucuk Ayasofya Mahallesi
Demirci Resit Sokak
Sultan Ahmet Meydani Alti



Itinerary     Read the group journal from 2001 Sierra Tour

Day 1 Saturday September 20: Istanbul
Arrival in Istanbul and transfer to Hotel Ayasofya. The tour members will be given a transfer to the hotel from the airport. Please check the arrival info for the details. Hotel Ayasofya is almost as it was 200 years ago and is situated within walking distance of all the must-see places in Istanbul. The tour starts at 5.00 pm. After a short introduction we will visit the Blue Mosque and have dinner

Day 02 Sunday September 21: Istanbul

Some of the sights we will see include the Cistern, the Turkish Islamic Art Museum, St. Sophia, and Topkapi Palace. The visit to the Turkish Islamic Museum, especially the ethnographic section, makes a perfect introduction to what we will see in the countryside.

Day 03 Monday September 22: Train

Shop at the famous Covered Bazaar. We will visit the Chora church to see the exquisite Byzantine mosaics from the 12th century. If you are interested in early Christian art and dogma you will be overwhelmed by this museum. After lunch on your own in the 19th century Quarter, We will end the day with a cruise on the Bosphoros aboard our own private boat. The views of the city at dusk with its 600 mosques are unforgettable. Dinner will be at a seafood restaurant much favored by the locals. Train to Ankara. In Turkey, trains are regarded as the most civilized mean of transportation. Your luggage will be with you in your compartments.

Unless you chose to be single 2 people to a compartment. The train leaves at 10.30 pm and arrives Ankara the next morning at 08.00 AM

Day 04 Tuesday, September 23: Cappadocia

In Ankara, visit the most beautiful museum of Turkey, the Anatolian Civilization Museum. This is a one of a kind museum, displaying 26 different civilizations. All the artifacts of these civilizations that have been excavated from Anatolia are in this museum. Seeing it will give us a better understanding of the cultural and historic layers of the Anatolian civilization. After lunch we visit the mausoleum of Ataturk, the father of the Turks, then take a bus to Cappadocia over a beautiful country road for a taste of lovely Turkish landscapes and farms. Overnight at Irmak Hotel at heart of Cappadocia. Waking up in the morning to magnificent sights is one of the unique aspects of this motel

Day 05 Wednesday September 24: Cappadocia

Cappadocia is a land where nature and man have competed with each other to create the most unusual and the most beautiful. We will hike to 10th and 11th century churches, monasteries, and houses carved in the rocks, and visit a family living in one of these rock dwellings. ( The description of the hike is below ) The moonlike terrain of Cappadocia with its endless artwork is a photographer's delight. Since Cappadocia is the carpet center of Turkey, we will schedule a demonstration at a factory where the art of making carpets by hand and dying with natural dies is being kept alive. We will see Turkish folk dancing this evening at dinner. Overnight in Cappadocia

Day 06 Thursday September 25: Guzelyurt

We will start the day with a pleasant hike into the depths of Cappadocia. Our altitude will be about 4200 feet and the hike will be about three to five miles long. Avanos will be our next stop. People have been making pottery here since the time of the Hittites (3rd century BC). We will visit a local potter who is keeping this art alive After visiting the underground city of the early Christians. Dinner and overnight in Guzelyurt, in a hotel that was built in 1853 as a Christian girls school. You will be given the option of home stay at this small town.

Day 07 Friday September 26: Konya

We will have breakfast at a village house after our morning hike .We will start the day with a short walk to the most scenic location of Guzelyurt, where we will capture 10,000 years of history. Hikers can take a morning hike to the oldest monastery valley in Christian history. If you do not hike, you can stay in the town and enjoy the locals with whom you can easily make friends We then depart for Konya, stopping en route at a 12th century Caravanserai. Konya is the first capital of the Selcuks, the oldest Turkish Empire in Anatolia. It is also known for being the homeland of Rumi, a 13th century poet-philosopher and one of the earliest humanists. The ambiance of the city has not changed much for the past 800 years. Overnight at a hotel in the center of Konya.

Day 08 Saturday September 27: Antalya

We will learn about the father of Sufism in Konya Rumi and his philosophy will be the topic of our morning lecture.

You will be able to see how the flora changes as we drive over the grand Taurus Mountains down to Antalya. Poised between jagged mountains and the shimmering Mediterranean, Antalya is the chief city on Turkey's central Mediterranean coast. In this beautiful coastal city we will stay at a restored 200-year-old stone house renovated as a pension.

5 hour bus ride to Antalya will be the most scenic ride of our tour

Day 09 Sunday September 28: Antalya

Weather permitting, we will take a five-hour cruise on the Mediterranean to the ancient site of Phaselis, located on a peninsula with ancient harbors on either side. This will be the first Roman site that we visit on this trip. The ancient stones are scattered among the reed pine trees, which grow right out from the waters of the Mediterranean in an incomparably romantic setting. Tonight there is an option of going to a Turkish bath (included in tour). Overnight in Antalya.

Day 10 Monday September 29: Antalya

Drive to the Taurus Mountains today to an area farthest from the water. These mountains are like a steep wall separating the southern part of the country from the central plateau. We will have a leisurely day picnicking and hiking in a spectacular setting..We will have a jeep  safari to see depths of the mountains. Overnight at the same hotel . We will experience the Turkish bath today.

Day 11 Tuesday October 30: Pamukkale

Today we visit Pamukkale (ancient Heirapolis), the most unusual natural phenomenon of Turkey. The Turkish name - literally "cotton castle" - refers to the extraordinary surface of the snow-white cliffs, shaped over millennia by the accumulation of calcium deposited by mineral springs. Visit the hot springs and swim in a spa amid Roman columns. Though under protection, these white cliffs of calcium deposits are being destroyed dramatically. We will meet with a representative of the local association that is working on the preservation of these cliffs. We will have dinner and overnight in a local pension in the village center where you can continue to swim in the curative waters of this five-thousand-year-old health center.

Day 12 Wednesday October 01 : Selcuk (Ephesus)

Drive through a meandering valley visit the temple of Appollo ,the oracle center and hike up to the ancient city of Prienne. Enjoy the pleasure of hiking in an ancient city.We will gat a chance to swim in the Aegean as well. Overnight at Selcuk

Day 13 Thursday October 02: Selcuk (Ephesus)

This will be our big day in Ephesus, the best-preserved classical city on the eastern Mediterranean and among the best places in the world to get a feel for what life was like in Roman times. Certainly, the climax of the trip will be at the city of Ephesus, sitting in the theater visualizing 35,000 Ephesians following the silversmith Demetrius shouting "...great is Artemis of Ephesians..." in reaction to St. Paul's preaching "there should be no man-made gods." Overnight in Selcuk

Day 14 Friday October 03:

The trip ends after breakfast, but you may extend your stay on your own if you wish. There are many options available, such as a yacht tour on the Turkish Riviera at very reasonable rates or the Greek island of Samos (only a one-hour boat ride away). Otherwise, you may return directly to Istanbul by bus or air for more sightseeing before your departure. You may also return to Istanbul via a 3-day bus ride visiting other sites in western Anatolia, such as Pergamum and Troy.
Transfer to the airport


After Tour Options

From our previous experience with the Sierra Club tours, some tour members choose to stay in Turkey for several more days. The following options have been the most popular.


Boats can be chartered from Bodrum. Let us know the number of days you want to be on the boat. The price varies with the number of days and the number of people.


It takes a minimum of two days to drive to Istanbul.
In two days you can visit Troy.
If you have four days the following itinerary can be a pleasant, relaxed finale to your visit to the Western part of Turkey.
The price of the tour depends on the number of days.

Suggested Itinerary:

DAY 1: Drive to Izmir, visit the Ethnographic Art Museum, the castle of Alexander the Great and the modern part of the city Karsiyaka.
Drive to Bergama and overnight in Bergama.

DAY 2: Visit the ancient sites of Pergamum including the Acropolis and the Asclepion.
Overnight in Ayvalik.

DAY 3: Visit the museum in the mountain village of Tahtakuslar. It's the very first village museum of ethnography. Visit the ancient city of Assos.
Overnight in Canakkale.

DAY 4: Visit the legendary city of Troy.
Continue driving to Istanbul.
Overnight in Istanbul.



Hotel Chart

Tour Day Hotel Name & City Telephone # FAX #
Day 1-2 Hotel Ayasofya
90 212 516 94 46 90 212 518 0700
Day 3 Train    
Day 4-5 Irmak Hotel
90 384 511 3345 90 384 511 3345
Day 6 Hotel Karballa
90 382 451 2103 90 382 451 2107
Day 7 Sifa Otel
90 332 350 4290 90 332 351 9251
Day 8-10 Hotel Atalya Pansion
90 242 241 6416 90 242 241 6416
Day 11 Yoruk Motel
90 258 272 2102 90 258 272 2073
Day 12-13 Hotel Kalehan
90 232 892 6154 90 232 892 2169
Day 14 The tour is over after breakfast    

Kern Hildebrand.

Hiking Information

Itinerary Hiking

  Kern Hildebrand

 Sierra Club
Tour Leader

Istanbul - Tour starts at 8.30 am   Saturday, Sept.21, 2002
Istanbul   Sunday, Sept. 22, 2002
Cappadocia   Tuesday, Sept 24, 2002
Cappadocia (see below) Moderate 10 km Wednesday, Sept 25, 2002
Guzelyurt (see below) Moderate 5 km Thursday, Sept 26, 2002
Konya Modarete 10 km Friday, Sept 27, 2002
Antalya   Saturday, Sept 28, 2002
Antalya Moderate 11 km Sunday, Sept 29, 2002
Antalya   Monday, Sept 30, 2002
Pamukkale (see below) Moderate 2 km Tuesday, Nov 1, 2002
Selcuk Uphill 3 km Wednesday, Nov 2, 2002
Selcuk   Thursday, Nov 3, 2002
Tour is over after breakfast   Friday, Nov 04, 2002


Cappadocia 10 km hike 2 hours leasurely walking pace
We start at 6:30 in the morning walk through vinyards for 1 km on a level dirt road. The Church carved in the rocks will be our first surprise. We will need to climb up a rock to see the beautiful frescoes and reliefs which time could not wear off. We will continue our hike through fruit orchards and vineyards where the branches of the apricot trees will be wrapped around the vine branches. The fresh smell of the air will be more of a joy when it is filled in with the songs of the nightingales. After walking 1 more km we will reach another church carved in the Rocks, but this time more than the church the view of Cappadocia from the church will be our focus of interest. It is amazing how this very easy 2-3 km hike would bring us to a point where you are totally disconnected from the real world. The only sign of life around us as we continue our hike on a level dirt road will be more fruit trees which have been carefully planted and taken care of by the local farmers. The next 300 yards will remind us that "no pain no gain" as we climb up a path which is quite steep. If hiking is not your at least twice a year hobby, you might have to stop a few times to get your legs working again. But once we get up to the top, you will feel like the rocks are playing the most "colorful symphony." The wild flowers and the colors of the rocks will be competing with each other to display more shades of all the colors. Our hike will continue on level ground for the most of it until we arrive back to the village This hike takes 2 hours We get our excellent breakfast when we return to the hotel.

Guzelyurt 5 km 1.5 hours leisurely walking pace
We will drive up to the place where we will start the hike. The first part of the hike will be on a level rocky land. As we start walking down hill the rocks will be replaced first by oak trees then with vineyards and fruit orchards. Once we arrive in the canyon we will sometimes be walking along the side of the creek. Sometimes we will be hopping on the rocks to get to the other side of the water. On this hike there is one very short 10 yards steep downhill walk. We end our hike in the oldest monastery of the Christian history.

Antalaya 3 km 1 hour walk on level ground
We will drive into the mountains for 100 km before we start our hike on a part dirt part paved road running by a river. We will pass by villages, greet the locals and enjoy the pine forest which will sometimes make seeing the sky difficult. We will finish our hike at a Roman Bridge connecting the two sides of the gorge. Very easy walk. A nice picnic at the end of the road will be our bonus.

Pamukkale 2 km down the designated path on the travertines with the calicium deposits
Once we leave the ancient Hierapolis with all its mysterious looking ruins, we will be in a white world of the warm waters and calcium deposits. The walk down the cliff on the designated path must be down without shoes. It may be hard on your feet. Wearing socks is recommended.

Prienne 2 km round trip up and down hill walk
Overlooking the Meander Valley, the ancient city of Prienne will be reached at the end of a gradual climb walking on the ancient roman stairs.


Notes From The Sierra Club

Travel Arrangements

Airfare is not included in the trip cost. You may contact your personal travel agent. You will need a valid passport and a visitor's visa ($100) for Turkey. This visa may be purchased at one of several Turkish consulates in the US or very easily upon arrival in Istanbul. No special inoculations are required, but up-to-date tetanus and Hepatitis A shots are recommended. More information will be given to approved participants after signing up.

Trip Difficulty

This trip is designed for anyone in average condition. No special athletic ability is required, but you must be able to walk for long distances while touring and be able to carry your own entire luggage. Hiking is low to moderate and is optional. Elevations are below 5,000 feet and hikes are of three to five miles in length. Weather will be from highs in the 80s to lows in the 50s, depending on the location. This is the transition season from summer to early autumn in Turkey and should be quite pleasant.


No special equipment or clothing is necessary for this trip. Turkey is an informal country, so leave the fancy clothes at home. Women do not need to be concerned about what not to wear, short skirts, and sleeveless shirts are welcome. The general rule is: the smaller the town, the more casual and conservative the dress. Shorts are acceptable for hiking and for touring the ruins, but not for touring mosques. A pair of very sturdy shoes is absolutely essential. Warm clothing while in Anatolia is a must. A comprehensive gear list will be sent to trip participants.

Conservation Objective

Turkey suffers from all the usual problems of a rapidly developing industrial economy. Rapid industrialization has naturally led to a shortage of energy. Recently, despite the contrary direction adopted by U.S., Europe, and Japan, Turkey, located in a highly active seismic region, has been considering nuclear power. In addition, the energy thirst and development needs of the disadvantaged southeast region has led to the construction of mega-dams, uprooting the local populace and submerging priceless archeological treasures.

Air pollution is a real blight, especially in winter due to the burning of lignite (plentiful in Turkey) for heating. A special problem for Turkey, again related to energy, is the use of the Straits (Bosphorus and Dardanelles) as a tanker route to transport Caspian oil from Russian ports to Europe. Several major accidents over the past few years in the swift currents of the narrow channel of these waterways amply demonstrate the folly of such use. An alternative pipeline to transport the oil to the Mediterranean has its own environmental disadvantages.

Anatolia had a lot more forest cover at one time, but uncontrolled use over the centuries has denuded the countryside. During recent Republican times reforestation has been a government policy, a policy that was especially close to Ataturk's heart. Unfortunately, these efforts have not been sufficient to restore the original health of the forests. Add to all of these the monumental problem of the preservation of innumerable irreplaceable historic sites. In short, the country has no shortage of environmental issues that a fledgling conservation movement is attempting to address. We will meet representatives of a few of these groups, exchange ideas, offer the insight of our own experience in tackling similar problems, and offer whatever advice and assistance we can.


Your local library is full of history books on Turkey and Anatolia (Asia Minor). It seems everyone has written a book about this area of the world. The following books are essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the formation of the Turkish Republic and the reverence in which Turks hold the father of modern Turkey: "Ataturk, A Biography of Mustafa Kemal, Father of Modern Turkey," by Lord Kinross. "Emergence of Modern Turkey," by Bernard Lewis. A more extensive list of other books for a more in-depth understanding of Turkish and Ottoman history and culture will be sent to those who sign up for the trip.

Trip Price

Some international trips are tier-priced according to the number of participants. The tier prices for this trip are > for 11 to 14 participants and > for 10 or fewer. See the Reservation and Cancellation Policy for tier price details. This trip requires a deposit of $200 per person. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure.

See the How to Apply for an Outing section for more details on registering for this trip and details about our Reservation and Cancellation Policy.


Kern Hildebrand, the trip leader:  A wilderness traveler since childhood, at age 55, he has led, assisted, or cooked on many national Sierra Club outings. These have included river-rafting, sea kayak, backpack, and international trips. His more recent wilderness leading experiences have been in Alaska, California’s Sierra Nevada, Switzerland, Nepal, Tibet, and Africa. He has also traveled in the Kashmir and Ladakh regions of northern India. He has traveled in Turkey in both 1999 and 2001 and on the same itinerary as this outing.

His conditioning for the trail includes jogging and some swimming. When not traveling, he is a public administrator for a San Francisco Bay Area suburb of approximately 60,000 people, where he directs the Leisure Services (recreation) programs and facilities.

Subcommittee Chair's Message

The Sierra Club National Outings program is broken down into various subcommittees. Each subcommittee is run by a volunteer chair who oversees a number of trips. The chair is experienced in the type and location of the trips that are in his/her program. The volunteer trip leaders work with the chairs to run the trips in that subcommittee.

We are very interested in your experiences and ideas for Sierra Club foreign outings. We also need new leaders for future trips who have had experience leading trips for the Sierra Club Outing program (or similar organization). Please email suggestions and recommendations to John Bird.

Participant Approval

Participant Approval is required of all participants on Sierra Club outings. Participant approval enables trip leaders to verify that prospective participants are prepared for the challenges of the trip, and allows leaders to be prepared in case of emergency. After signing up for this trip, each applicant (including those on the waitlist) must fill out the approval materials (questionnaire, medical form, liability release) included in his or her confirmation packet and mail them promptly to the trip leader. Participant approval materials will be supplied to each applicant after they sign up. Approval materials can also be downloaded off the web.

Medical Issues

There will be no trip physician. Emergency medical supplies will be carried by our group. However, trip members must bring a basic, personal first-aid kit and whatever personal medications they need. In your reservation confirmation packet you will receive a medical form, which must be filled out and submitted to the trip leader before you are accepted on the trip. When completing the medical form, realize that your safety (and the safety of the group) depends on candid responses describing your health and physical condition.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is strongly recommended for those participating in outings. Consider coverage for delays caused by weather, lost luggage, cancellation for medical reasons, and emergency evacuation. Last minute cancellation by a participant, even if due to medical reasons, does not entitle the participant to a refund from the Sierra Club. Infrequently the Sierra Club finds it necessary to cancel or change trips. The Club’s responsibility in such instances is limited to a refund of the trip fee only. Accordingly, the Sierra Club is not responsible for non-refundable airline or other tickets or payments or any similar penalties that may be incurred as a result of any trip cancellation or changes. Also note that if you leave the trip early for any reason, the Sierra Club will not pay for any costs incurred and you are not entitled to a refund.

How To Apply for an Outing

To apply, you may do one of the following:

·         Sign up on-line .

·         Call: 415-977-5588 (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., PST, M-F) to place a credit card deposit. Please have your credit card information ready.

·         Fax your credit card deposit to: 415-977-5795.

·         Send a complete trip application form with a check, money order, or complete credit card information to:

Sierra Club Outing Department
85 Second Street, Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105 :p>

For all applications, be sure to include: the trip number and trip name for which you are applying, your name, your membership number, address, and phone numbers. Different addresses for others in your party should also be included. If you are not currently a Sierra Club member, you may apply for membership when you sign up for the trip.

For all credit card deposits (Visa or MasterCard only), please be sure to include: your credit card number, its expiration date, and your signature, in addition to the above information. **Credit card applications submitted less than ninety days before the trip departure date will be debited the full trip fee. Please fill in the full amount on your application.**

Note: Applications received with incomplete or inaccurate information may be delayed.

Trip deposits are accepted subject to our published Reservation and Cancellation Policy. All trip sign-ups are on a first-come, first-served basis. Questions about reservations or payments should be addressed to the Outing Department. Questions about the trip’s itinerary, difficulty, transportation, accommodations, etc., should be addressed to the trip leader.

Liability Release & Assumption of Risk

Participants for each Sierra Club outing are required to sign the Liability Release and Assumption of Risk document that is sent to each registered participant. By signing this form, participants and their heirs agree they will not hold the Club or its leaders responsible in any way for accidents or injuries that may occur on a Club outing. You will be asked to sign and return it to the trip leader prior to your acceptance onto the outing.

Participants should understand that activities on this trip or any trip of this nature contain inherent risks and dangers including injury, illness, and potentially death. Trip members who participate in this outing assume all of the risks and will hold the Sierra Club, its agents and leaders, harmless from any and all responsibility, negligence, actions, or suits of any kind or nature whatsoever for loss or damage to property or personal injuries sustained during this outing. The Outing Committee, a volunteer board that governs the Outing program, regrets the need for this requirement.

The following is required of trip applicants:

To accurately and completely furnish any personal information requested for leader approval; to carefully review all information furnished about the requested trip, and to understand as thoroughly as possible the physical and mental demands of the trip and the risks to be encountered on the trip; to properly equip themselves for the trip in accordance with recommendations of the leader and of the Sierra Club; to respect the customs of countries visited, avoid breaking any applicable laws and to refrain from antisocial conduct during the trip; to follow environmental guidelines and regulations while on the trip in accordance with direction from the leader; and to always respect the rights and privacy of other trip members. Please refer to the Reservation and Cancellation Policy for more information.


On Sierra Club outings, participants furnish their own personal equipment, including items such as boots, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, a "basics" first-aid kit, toiletries, and eating utensils. The Sierra Club furnishes all shared group gear, including stoves, cookware and cooking utensils, a group first-aid kit, and food, unless otherwise noted in the trip brochure.

An Equipment Checklist, drafted by the Outing Committee that oversees the Sierra Club’s Outings program, is sent to all registered trip participants in their reservation confirmation packet after they have applied for the trip. The checklist is a basic list of necessary personal equipment specific to each type of trip.

In addition to the Standard Equipment Checklist, your trip leader may supply details about equipment needs that are unique to this outing in further correspondence with registered participants. Any questions about the suitability of equipment should be addressed to the leader.


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