In the interior heartland of Turkey lies Cappadocia, renowned for its natural and cultural wonders, including surreal, eroded volcanic landscapes of fairy-chimney tufa formations, hidden rock-cut cave churches with amazing frescoes, and underground cities where Byzantine-era villagers and monks sought refuge for months at a time during times of peril. Explore and hike in this magical landscape, visit cave churches, and underground cities and enjoy welcoming villages with unique traditional art forms, from pottery to weaving. Cappadocia maintains its magic of natural history together with a traditional lifestyle, making this extension a wonderful addition to our Turquoise Coast trips. The following itinerary is for a post-trip extension.
Istanbul / Cappadocia
From Istanbul, fly to Kayseri, meet your guide, and transfer to the picturesque citadel town of Urgup. Views of Mt. Erciyes, the 12,000-foot volcano responsible for forming the remarkable landscape of Cappadocia, are ever present on the drive. With its ancient cultural heritage and unique landscape of tufa towers on the Anatolian steppes, Cappadocia is breathtaking, and hiking is the best way to appreciate its fantastic scenery. In the afternoon, hike from the vicinity of the hotel to the little village of Avcilar via the Pigeon Valley. Along the way, we visit Uchisar village, a natural citadel at the center of Cappadocia’s magnificent lunar landscape, and the Goreme Outdoor Museum, including a special visit to the Karanlik (Dark) Church, which contains some of the finest frescoes in Cappadocia. Dinner and overnight at hotel...BLD
At dawn this morning (or on the following morning), you have the option of participating in a thrilling 1.5-hour hot air balloon ride (at additional cost—if interested, please contact us). After breakfast, we continue our exploration of Cappadocia with a 3-hour hike through a remote canyon with a magnificent lunar landscape complete with hidden rock-carved churches adorned with beautiful frescoes. We walk along small vineyards and apricot orchards amidst wonderful views of “fairy chimneys” and witness ruined monastic settlements. Reaching picturesque Cavusin Village, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, then visit Pasabag (or Zelve) and Avanos. In Avanos we recommend a visit to a potter’s cave workshop for a hands-on demonstration of this age-old local art as we sip some delightful Cappadocian wine. Dinner and overnight at hotel...BLD
Note: Tonight you have the option of attending a whirling dervish “Sema” ceremony at the original 12th century Seljuk caravanserai of Saruhan (cost not included). This dance of the whirling dervishes is inspired by Rumi, the mystic poet, and is part of Turkish culture. Please inform your guide upon arrival if you would like to attend.
Morning visit to the troglodyte underground cities of Kaymakli or Derinkuyu, with their labyrinth of hand-carved tunnels burrowing 12 stories deep into the soft tufa rock (and dating back 4,000 years!). When invading armies swept across the Anatolian plain, people living in the region sought refuge by ingeniously building a maze of multi-level cities underground, complete with ventilation shafts and wells that were undetectable from the exterior. After lunch, we can take an optional 2.5-hour hike from Uchisar down Bagli Dere Valley (Valley of Spears), witnessing strange and fanciful formations near the far end. A shorter version of this hike starts at the lower end of the canyon and allows you leisure time in the afternoon for some great shopping opportunities for weavings, rugs, pottery, and polished onyx carvings. Dinner and overnight at hotel...BLD
Early morning transfer of 1.5 hours to the airport at Kayseri for the flight to Istanbul. You will be met and transferred to your hotel, with the remainder of the day free to explore on your own in Istanbul. Overnight at Hotel Levni...B
Transfer on your own to Istanbul airport for departing flights...B