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Sierra Club Tours
2005Western Turkey Tour

Saturday Sept,24  2005 -  Friday Oct. 07, 2005


Discover Turkish History and Culture


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 we learn about the Turkish environmental groups 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

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.
The Sept 2005  Sierra Club tour will be led by
Pritpal S. Kochhar


For pricing information and application procedures contact Pritpal S. Kochhar

The Sierra Club website has information on the October 2005 tour at:



US citizens need a visa to travel in Turkey. You may obtain this visa upon your arrival at the Istanbul airport. The fee is $ 20 in US currency. The visa is valid for three months.
When you come out of your plane please proceed to the Visa  Booth. They only accept cash.
After paying for your visa please proceed to police control. Baggage claim is immediately down the ramp after the police check. If you need a cart, you will need to pay one US dollar cash to a person who stands by the carts. It will be nice if you have a change. The Melitour representative for transfer to the hotel will meet you out side the custom area. Look for a MELITOUR sign as soon as you leave the customs gate.

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 your  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




Day 01 Saturday Sept,24  2005 : Magnificent Istanbul.  Trip members will be met upon arrival and transferred to Hotel Ayasofya, which is almost as it was 200 years ago and is situated within walking distance of many of the must-see places.  The trip starts at 5:00 p.m.  After a short introduction, we will visit the Blue Mosque and have dinner. 

Day 02 Sunday Sept,25  2005 : Shop at the famous Covered Bazaar.  Then visit Istanbul’s finest mosque, the 16th-century Süleymaniye, built by the Ottomans’ greatest architect, Mimar Sinan.  After lunch on your own, continue to the Chora church to see exquisite 12th-century Byzantine mosaics, probably the finest in the world.  If you are interested in early Christian art or dogma, you will be overwhelmed by this museum. After a brief visit to the Spice Market we will board our own private boat on the Golden Horn for a cruise on the Bosporus.  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. 

Day 03 Monday  Sept,26  2005 : Some of the sights we will see include the Underground Cistern, Ayasofya, Topkapı Palace, and the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, whose ethnographic section makes a perfect introduction to what we will see in the countryside.  After dinner on the Asian side, we will proceed to the historic Haydarpaşa railway station to board the all-sleeper Ankara Ekspres, leaving at 10:30 p.m. and arriving in Ankara the next morning at 8:00.  Unless you choose to pay additional for a single, two to a compartment.  The bulk of our luggage will have been sent ahead by bus. 

 Day 04 Tuesday  Sept,27  2005: In Ankara, visit the splendid Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.  This is a one-of-a-kind museum, displaying artifacts from twenty-six different civilizations, all excavated in Anatolia.  Seeing them will give us a better understanding of the cultural and historic layers of Anatolia.  After lunch we visit the impressive mausoleum of Atatürk, “Father Turk”, revered founder of the modern Turkish state.  We then take a bus to Cappadocia over beautiful country roads for a taste of lovely Turkish landscapes and farms.  Overnight in Üçhisar, in the heart of Cappadocia, at a hotel some of whose rooms have been carved out of the rock.

Day 05 Wednesday  Sept,28  2005: One of the unique aspects of our hotel is waking up in the morning to magnificent sights.  Cappadocia is a land where nature and man have competed with each other to create the most unusual and the most beautiful.  The moon-like terrain of Cappadocia with its endless artwork is a photographer’s delight.  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.  Since Cappadocia is the carpet center of Turkey, we will schedule a demonstration at a factory cooperative where the art of making carpets by hand and dyeing with natural dyes is being kept alive.  Overnight in Cappadocia.  Weather permitting, there will be an option of a balloon ride at additional cost.

Day 06 Thursday  Sept,29  2005 : We will start the day with a pleasant 3- to 5-mile hike into the depths of Cappadocia, at an elevation of about 4,200 feet.  Avanos will be our next stop.  People have been making pottery here since the time of the Hittites (3rd millennium BC).  We will visit first a local potter who is keeping this art alive, and then an underground city of the early Christians.  Dinner and overnight will be in Güzelyurt, in a hotel that was built in 1853 as a Christian girls’ school.  You will have the option of a home stay in this small town. 

Day 07 Friday  Sept, 30  2005: We will start the day with a short walk to the most scenic spot in Güzelyurt, where we will capture 10,000 years of history.  Hikers can also 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 13th-century caravanserai.  Konya was the first capital of the Seljuks, the oldest Turkish empire in Anatolia.  It is also the homeland of the 13th-century poet-philosopher Rumi, one of the earliest humanists and the father of Sufism.  The conservative 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  Oct, 01  2005: Rumi and his philosophy will be the topic of our morning lecture.  We then visit the Mevlâna Museum, dedicated to him.  Next comes the most scenic drive of our trip, six hours to Antalya.  You will be able to see how the flora changes as we drive over the grand Taurus Mountains.  Poised between these jagged mountains and the shimmering sea, Antalya is the principal 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.  Dinner this evening is on your own.

Day 09 Sunday  Oct, 02  2005: 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 our first Roman site.  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 the trip cost).  Overnight in Antalya, with dinner on your own. 

Day 10   MondayOct, 03  2005: Drive to the Taurus Mountains today.  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.  Overnight in Antalya, with dinner on your own. 

 Day 11 Tuesday  Oct, 04  2005: Today we visit Pamukkale (ancient Hierapolis), 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.  We will have dinner and overnight in a local motel in the village center, where you can continue to swim in the curative waters of this 5,000-year-old health center. 

Day 12 Wednesday Oct, 05  2005: Drive through the valley of the meandering Meander River, visit the temple of Apollo with its oracle center, and the amphitheater at Miletus.  Overnight in Selçuk, near the port city of Kusadaşı. 

Day 13 Thursday  Oct, 06  2005: 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 entire trip will be at the city of Ephesus, visualizing 35,000 Ephesians in the theater following the silversmith Demetrius shouting “great is Artemis of Ephesians” in reaction to St. Paul’s preaching “there should be no man-made gods”.  Farewell dinner and overnight in Selçuk. 

Day 14 Friday  Oct, 07  2005: The trip ends after breakfast, and you may fly out from nearby Izmir (airport transfer included) via either Europe or Istanbul.  Alternatively, you may extend your stay on your own.  Many options are available, such as a yacht tour on the Turkish Riviera at very reasonable rates, or the Greek island of Samos    (one hour by boat from Kusadaşı).  You may also return directly to Istanbul by bus or air for more sightseeing before your final departure.  Another option is to take a three-day bus tour to visit other sites in western Anatolia, such as Pergamum and Troy, on the way back to Istanbul.


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 Museum Hotel
0384 271 26 16  0384 271 26 16 
Day 6 Hotel Karballa
90 382 451 2103 90 382 451 2107
Day 7 Hotel Baykara
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    

Hiking Information

Itinerary Hiking

 Sierra Club

Istanbul - Tour starts at 8.30 am  

Sunday,         Oct. 03

Istanbul   Monday,        Oct. 04

Tuesday        Oct. 05

Cappadocia Wednesday,  Oct. 06
Cappadocia (see below) Moderate 10 km

Thursday,    Oct.   07


Friday,          Oct. 08 

Konya Morning hike in Guzelyurt
Modarete 5 km

Saturday,     Oct.  09

Antalya   Sunday.        Oct. 10
Antalya Moderate3 km Monday        Oct. 11
Antalya   Tuesday        Oct. 12
Pamukkale (see below) Moderate 2 km Wednesday   Oct. 13
Selcuk Uphill 3 km Thursday       Oct. 14
Selcuk   Thursday       Oct. 15
Tour is over after breakfast   Friday            Oct. 16


Cappadocia 7 km hike  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  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.



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