Trip Number: 13570A
Staff: Pritpal Singh Kochhar
- Trek for six days along the turquoise Mediterranean coast on Turkey's
first long-distance footpath
- Visit the cliff dwellings of Cappadocia and stay in a "cave"
- Experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of exotic Istanbul
- All in-country transportation
- All lodging, most meals, entrance fees, and tips
- Expert bilingual guides throughout the trip
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
Occupying the whole of classical Asia Minor and a small portion of Europe,
Turkey bridges two continents and two cultures, the Orient and the Occident.
The history, religions, and traditions of the people of this region represent
the numerous cultures that have flourished in Asia Minor over ten millennia.
The minaret-spiked skylines, temples of pagan worship, and the treasures of
Christianity are interwoven in the timelessness of this land. Today, Turkey
is a new country in an old land, rich in history and fascinating modern contrasts.
Our adventure begins in fabled Istanbul, one of the world's most scenic cities
and the only capital city in the world that straddles two continents. We will
spend our first three days there, taking in its riches: museums, historic buildings,
monuments, and mosques. We then fly to Cappadocia to hike among fairy-tale chimneys
and visit the cave dwellings and an underground monastic settlement. On the
way to our trek, we stop in Konya to visit the famous Mevlana Museum, which
is devoted to the life and teachings of Jelalladin Rumi, a revered poet and
founder of Sufism who lived in the 13th century.
We also spend some time along the Mediterranean Sea in Antalya and explore
the ruins at Termessos, a Pisidian city high in the Taurus Mountains. The highlight
of our trip is our six-day trek on the Lycian Way, the first long-distance footpath
constructed in Turkey. The well-maintained trail snakes its way over bare hillsides
and through scented pine forest. The limestone mountains rise steeply from the
wooded shore and tiny bays, giving us beautiful views of the turquoise Mediterranean.
During our trek our bus will transport our luggage to every evening's lodging.
We'll be staying in hotels, seaside cabins, and in village houses hosted by
local farmers. On our last day, we will be transferred to Dalaman airport and
fly back to Istanbul.
Note: Itinerary is subject to change due to weather conditions or other factors.
Day 1: We will meet at our hotel in the heart of the Old City
for a group orientation meeting and lunch at 11 a.m. We'll start our tour with
Sultanahmet Square, which was the Hippodrome of the Byzantine Empire. Next we'll
visit the Blue Mosque, famous for its six minarets and beautiful Iznik tiles,
built in the classical period of the Ottoman Empire. It is one of the best examples
of classical Turkish art. We will enjoy our welcoming dinner after our visit
to the Blue Mosque. Our overnight will be in Istanbul.
Day 2: A full day tour of the old city starts with our visit
to Topkapi Palace, the imperial residence of the Ottoman sultans (emperors),
which was built in the 15th century by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. Lunch will
be in a restaurant well known for its traditional Turkish cuisine. We'll then
visit the marvelous underground cistern and end our day with the Grand Bazaar,
the most attractive shopping center in the world with more than 4,000 shops.
We will see contemporary arts and crafts, as well as masterpieces of traditional
Islamic art and architecture. Our overnight will be in the same hotel.
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
Day 3: We'll walk to the Spice Bazaar with its domed and vaulted
shops selling spices and herbs, then on to the pier for a Bosporus cruise on
a public ferry. Starting the trip from the Golden Horn, we'll sail through the
waterway separating the two continents, Asia and Europe. We will enjoy an afternoon
break at the café known as the Pierre Loti, which commands a superb view
of the Golden Horn. Then, we'll finish our tour by visiting St. Sophia, one
of the greatest marvels of architecture constructed as a basilica in 536 A.D.
by Emperor Justinian. Our overnight will be in the same hotel.
Day 4: We'll transfer to the Istanbul airport to take a morning
flight to Kayseri in the Cappadocia region. From there, we'll drive to a little-visited
valley to see a beautiful corner of Cappadocia. This will introduce us to typical
Turkish village life. Christian monasteries located on the skirts of the hills
are unique for their wall paintings. We will have lunch in a restored village
house in a nearby village. Then we'll drive to Kaymakli Underground City, which
was dug as deep as five layers below the ground and for centuries was used for
hiding by Christians. Our tour finishes with a spectacular view of Uchisar.
Our overnight will be in a boutique "cave" hotel in Goreme.
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
Day 5: In the morning, we'll have the option of hot-air ballooning.
We'll visit the open-air museum of Goreme, which was a very important monastic
settlement in the early Christian ages, and see a number of churches hollowed
out from the rock with religious paintings on their walls. Then we'll drive
to Cavusin to visit a monastery and St. Baptist Church, famous with its unique
wall painting of Salome's dance. The tour continues with lunch and a visit to
Avanos, a center that has produced pottery since ancient times. After a short
hike of four miles on flat terrain in Devrent Valley, we'll visit Pasabag, one
of the most beautiful areas of the region with hermitages hollowed out of volcanic
tufa. Our overnight will be in the same hotel.
Day 6: We will walk from our hotel through some of the most
beautiful valleys of Cappadocia. We'll explore less visited churches carved
into the rock formations and sample local dishes at a family-run restaurant.
Afterward, we'll have an easy walk of three miles down the Rose Valley in the
afternoon back to our hotel. Our overnight will be in the same hotel.
Day 7: Checking out of our hotel, we'll drive to the Ihlara
Valley to walk all the day by the river for six miles past vineyards and orchards
of walnut, quince, and apricot trees. After visiting Selime monastery, we'll
end our day in the lovely town of Guzelyurt. Our overnight will be in a boutique
hotel that was a nunnery in the past.
Day 8: After a traditional breakfast at a local village house,
we'll spend most of the day driving to the Mediterranean coast. On the way,
we'll stop to visit the Sultanhani caravanserai, an overnight stop for merchants
and camels on the Silk Road via Anatolia. Then we'll move on to Konya to see
the Mevlana Museum (famous for the Whirling Dervishes). Mevlana (Jellaludin
Rumi), a great poet and revered teacher of Sufism, lived in the 13th century.
We'll continue on to Antalya, a picturesque city on the Mediterranean Coast,
where we'll check in at a hotel in the old district.
Day 9: This is a free day to relax or explore on your own
the old section of Antalya with houses built in the Ottoman Period and the nearby
ancient harbor. Visiting the Antalya Archaeology Museum is recommended. You
can also take an optional tour of Perge and Aspendos archaeological sites at
an additional cost. Lunch and dinner are on your own this day. Our overnight
will be in the same hotel.
Day 10: Today we'll drive to Fethiye and stop to hike to the
ruins at Termessos, a Pisidian city built at a height of over 3,000 feet in
the Taurus Mountains. This hike is less than 1,000 feet elevation gain and four
miles round-trip. Then, we'll drive across the plateau of the Taurus Mountains
to Fethiye-Ovacik, where we start our trek the next day. Our overnight will
be in Kayakoy, whcih was the largest Greek town before the population exchange
between Greece and Turkey in 1924.
Day 11: After breakfast, we'll transfer to the trailhead of
the Lycian Way, a 200-mile footpath developed by the Turkish government and
maintained by volunteers. Our walk will give us spectacular views as we climb
the shoulder of Baba Dagi (Father Mountain). In total, it will take six hours,
covering 10 miles with an elevation gain of 1,400 feet. We'll enjoy dinner and
stay overnight in a pension with a view of the ocean in Faralya.
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
Day 12: Today's hike takes only three hours, as we trek from
Faralya to Kabak along a forested path with amazing views of the Mediterranean.
Our hike is seven miles long with an elevation loss of 500 feet. We'll have
dinner and stay overnight in a seaside cabin. (Optional evening swim.)
Day 13: For those who wake up early, there is a possibility
of a morning swim. After breakfast, we'll trek into the forested Kabak Valley,
splash in the waterfalls, and climb up a beautiful old mule trail to Alinca,
with spectacular views over Yedi Burun (Seven Capes). On the way we will explore
the archaeological site at Sidyma and be the guests of a local imam (Muslim
leader), who will talk about the basic tenets of his faith and describe the
religious observances that take place in a mosque. Today's hike will take about
five hours (seven miles), with an elevation gain of 2,400 feet. Our dinner and
overnight will be in a village house as guests of a local farmer's family.
Day 14: From Alinca, we'll descend to a secret beach where
we can swim in crystal waters and explore a nearby archaeological site. Then
we'll return to the main trail and hike along clifftops to Gey village. Today's
hike will take about seven hours (nine miles), with a steep elevation loss of
1,600 feet. Our dinner and overnight will be in a village house.
Photo: Rochelle Gerratt
Day 15: This morning we'll trek on a tiny goat path around
a spectacular bay to Bel, then to Belcegiz and descend a steep rocky Roman road
to Gavuragili. Today's hike will take about seven hours (seven miles) and have
an elevation loss of 2,500 feet. We'll meet our vehicle there and transfer to
Letoon, home of mother goddess of Leto who was the wife of Zeus. Our dinner
and overnight will be in a hotel near the seaside harbor of Kalkan.
Day 16: This morning we'll follow the aqueduct that brought
water from the mountains to the ancient site of Patara. Patara is famous for
its beautiful eight-mile-long beach, where the giant sea turtles, caretta caretta,
come to lay their eggs. Before we enjoy the sandy beach of Patara, we'll explore
the site of the ruins that was the capital of Lycia in the Roman Period. From
Patara we'll drive to Dalyan to take a short boat tour of Koycegiz Lake, Dalyan
delta, and a visit to the hot springs and mud bath. We'll enjoy our farewell
dinner and overnight in a riverside pension in Dalyan.
Day 17: We will be transferred to Dalaman Airport and fly
to Istanbul. End of trip.
The trip starts with a group meeting at 11:00 a.m. on the first day in our
hotel in Istanbul. You may want to consider arriving in Istanbul a day or more
before the start of our trip to orient yourself and take advantage of the many
special sights and activities that Istanbul offers. Lunch on the first day will
be the first meal provided. All lodging and meals are provided except for lunch
and dinner on our "free" day in Antalya. Our trip ends after arriving
at the Istanbul airport on April 20. The last meal provided is breakfast on
the last day. If you would like to continue touring Turkey after the Sierra
Club trip has ended, please ask the trip leader for suggestions, such as tours
sailing in a yacht (gullet) on the Mediterranean or visiting other archaeological
This trip is designed for anyone who will be comfortable on a trek where
we'll be hiking most of the day for six days in a row. Good general physical
condition -- as well as hiking stamina -- is important. On average, we will
spend six to seven hours a day hiking with a day pack for a distance from
three to ten miles per day. Elevation gain and loss average less than 1,500
feet per day. There will be plenty of rest stops during the hikes. Most of
the time, we will have shade, but there are sections of the trail in full
exposure of the sun. There will occasionally be the opportunity to skip some
hiking sections of the trail by riding in our bus and meeting the group farther
along the way. In general, we expect temperatures to be in the 50s and 60s
during the day, and in the 40s at night. However Cappadocia is at a higher
elevation (4,500 feet) and temperatures there will be in the 30s at night.
Overall, the spring weather should be very pleasant with many wildflowers.
Equipment and Clothing
A pair of broken-in hiking boots is essential for hiking. Otherwise comfortable
walking shoes will suffice for city walking. Although there is no dress code
in Turkey, we recommend that you dress modestly in long pants in Istanbul.
Shorts are okay for hiking and touring ruins. For visiting mosques, please
make sure that your shoulders and knees are covered, and women may want to
bring a head scarf to cover their head. For the trek, bring raingear, swimwear,
and one or two walking sticks. The leader will send you an extensive packing
The following books will get you started:
- Atil, Esin, Turkish Art.
- Bernieres, Louis De, Bird without Wings. (Especially recommended!)
- Bilgen-Reinart, Porcelain Moon and Pomegranates: A Women's Trek through
- Eyewitness Travel Guides, Turkey.
- Finkel, Caroline, Osman's Dream, History of the Ottoman Empire 1300-1923.
- Kemal, Yasar, Ince Memed.
- Kinsler, Stephen, The Star and the Crescent.
- Lewis, Bernard, The Emergence of Modern Turkey.
- Mango, Andrew, Ataturk.
- Pamuk, Orhan, My Name is Red.
- Pamuk, Orhan, Istanbul.
The country has no shortage of environmental issues and a fledgling conservation
movement is attempting to address them. Ancient archaeological sites are a
natural attraction to tourists whose spending supports the economy of nearby
residents, but the settlements become vulnerable to population growth as everyone
wants a share of this growing economy. It is difficult to achieve a balance
between protection of the sites and the development of the economy. Air pollution
is a real blight, especially in winter because of burning of lignite for heating.
A special problem for Turkey, again related to energy, is the use of the Bosphorus
and Dardanelles Straits as a tanker route to transport Caspian oil from Russian
ports to Western Europe. There have been several major accidents over the
past few years in these narrow channels. The giant sea turtles on the Mediterranean
coast are endangered in Turkey.
During our trip, we will have an opportunity to learn about the fauna and
flora of the Cappadocia region from a naturalist who will accompany us on
our hike in the Ihlara Valley. A biologist from the university in Antalya
will hike with us on our tour of Termessos and talk to us about the butterfly
research project he is involved with, as well as the environmental issues
of his country in general.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Pritpal Singh Kochhar ('Pepi') was born in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas where he developed his love of the mountains. In 1976 he moved to New York City where his exposure to people of different cultural backgrounds sparked his love of travel. His wanderlust has developed his enjoyment for contemporary foods, tastes, and smells. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge of foreign customs with trip participants. Besides leading Sierra Club trips he enjoys sailing, scuba diving, and reading about current affairs. His experience with eastern religions will highlight many a conversation you will have with him. Pepi has been a member of the Sierra Club for over 10 years and has traveled to China, India, Nepal, Iceland, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Thailand, India, Russia and Turkey on previous trips. His previous trips to Turkey as a Sierra Club leader have endeared him to the land and its people.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips