This 9 day tour, starts and ends in Istanbul, Turkey.
Welcome to Istanbul. After picking you up from the airport, we'll drop you off at your hotel for a free day in Istanbul to explore the city.
Today's itinerary begins with a visit to the Topkapi Palace (including Hagia Irene), which was once the home of the Ottoman Empire's sultans. We continue with stops at the Blue Mosque, St. Sophia Museum, and Hippodrome.
On an optional, afternoon, 'Half day Bosphorus cruise', you can cruise between two continents on the stretch of water that separates Europe and Asia.
After breakfast, you fly to Cappadocia. As you arrive at the airport, your guide in Cappadocia awaits to show you the highlights of Cappadocia. To marvel at Cappadocia's lunar scenery, we'll visit the Goreme Valley Open Air Museum and the fairy chimneys, as well as tour the various levels of an underground city. Prepare your cameras because photo opportunities abound!
Don't miss tonight's optional Turkish folklore event, which will feature folklore and belly dancers... it'll be a night to remember!
There's more to explore in Cappadocia today. We'll visit Pigeon Valley and Red Valley today, then Cavusin Village, and finally Avanos Town, where we'll learn about hand-made pottery.
Departure in the morning from Cappadocia, we head to Ankara for our direct flight to Van. On arrival to Van Airport, you will meet with your tour guide. Before we go to our hotel, we will explore the Citadel with its three thousand Urartian fortress of Van and witness the extraordinary sunset.
After breakfast, we will travel by ferry stopping at Akdamar Island to see a spectacular 10th century church built by an Armenian king, if there is time swim in Lake Van.
Then, we will drive back to city centre to visit the largest Urartu Museum in the World. Artifacts from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Urartian, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Seljuk, Turkish-Islamic, and Ottoman Periods are exhibited in chronological order taking our visitors on a unique historical journey.
After the museum visit Van Cat House. Van cats are relatively large, have a chalky white coat, sometimes with ruddy coloration on the head and hindquarters, and have blue, amber eyes or one eye of each colour. This variety has been referred to as "the swimming cat", and has been observed to swim in Lake Van.
Today we leave for Dogubayazit via Muradiye and the Bendimaahi Falls. In Dogubayazit, we visit the spectacular Ishak Pasha Palace, 1685 - 1784, which has a unique fusion of architecture from Seljuk, Ottoman, Georgian, and Armenian - Persian styles.
We continue our journey north, skirting around the western edge of Mt Ararat. Mt. Ararat is one of the great natural spectacles of the world,. The name Ararat derives from the Bible (Jeremiah 51:27) and is a transliteration of 'Urartu' the name foreigners gave to this region and its inhabitants in Biblical times.
This morning we journey to the site of Ani, the former capital of the Armenian kingdom. In the mid 10th century, nothing in Europe could rival this capital of the Armenian kingdom in terms of either size or magnificence. The remains of the ruined city include several churches as well as the shell of the Cathedral of Ani, the citadel and a mosque. There are also some exciting remains of frescoes in the Church of St Gregory (Tigran Honentz) despite having been exposed to the elements for centuries.
Afternoon, we will visit 12 Aposotles Church and Kars Castle.
Transfer to Kars Airport for your onward flight back to Istanbul. On arrival to Istanbul Airport our tour concludes and we say goodbye to our new friends.