Two Autumn 2015 departures of Wildland Adventures’ already richly textured Turquoise Coast Odyssey, if booked by August 15, 2015, come with value-added benefits including a $300 per person savings, a complimentary hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia with a champagne toast, a private audience with a Sufi dervish and a visit with an American scholar and Turkish sculptor couple in Istanbul.
Departure dates are Sept. 15-27 and Oct. 6-18, 2015, for a 13-day land and sea immersion in Turkey, a country that once visited becomes a favorite among active travelers.
The per person rate (double occupancy) with the discount is $4,595. Required local flights are assessed separately at $400 per person. Tours depart with a minimum of five guests, and private charters are available. Airport transfers, accommodations (including private cabin on a Turkish gullet), guide services and entrance fees, some meals, private air-conditioned vehicles with driver, port fees and more are included.
On this Turkey itinerary that combines land excursions with a sea voyage, visitors experience the dynamics of a changing secular society, observing sophisticates in Istanbul and agrarians in remote villages whose lives resemble snapshots of past centuries.
Kurt Kutay, founder of Wildland Adventures (http://www.wildland.com/), hails from Turkey (see: Kutay family Turkish heritage). He understands this culture and is accomplished in selecting in-country guides who, he says, “are exceptionally knowledgeable about Turkey’s ancient history and the conquerors and civilizations who have passed through this land bridge between Europe and Asia.”
From shipboard and on land, Wildland travelers are introduced to some of the earliest civilizations known to man through tours of bazaars, markets, hidden churches in Cappadocia, Crusader castles and ancient Roman, Greek and Byzantine ruins.
But more than a history lesson, this active trip embraces hiking, kayaking and swimming while meeting locals in their routine daily lives — especially at the dining table where an ample culinary budget allows guests to try a new Turkish dish every day. Accommodations range from boutique hotels in historic buildings to restored Ottoman homes; some Wildland trips include home stays with the Topkhara family in Uruntu village, a family Kurt has known for 25 years over three generations. While enjoying captivating stories, guests learn how to make gozleme flat bread and are invited to sample grapes, figs and apricots that are abundant here.
After walking the historic streets of Istanbul (Constantinople) and riding a local ferry on the Bosphorus, guests transfer by air to the bizarre geological formations of Cappadocia. Here on the Anatolian plateau are underground dwellings and Christian Orthodox churches carved into the volcanic tuft to escape persecution of Romans. Here guests are invited to a private audience in an old caravanserai with a traditional Sufi dervish to learn more of whirling dervish, Sufism and Islam. Here, too, is a spellbinding balloon ride over Cappadocia at dawn – with a champagne toast.
Another short flight brings guests to the 1st Century AD Roman city of Ephesus and an overnight in a rural village guesthouse.
For six days guests voyage in the wake of ancient mariners aboard a 12-passenger, two-masted schooner called a gullet that anchors in quiet coves to access footpaths leading through herb-scented hills to ruins and remote villages. The trip ends in Antalya after exploring Crusader castles, a Greek theater, 4th Century BCE Lycian house-tombs carved out of rock amidst richly decorated facades on high cliffs, a 3rd Century Christian church and Roman ruins. Guests fly back to Istanbul for a final night together.
Wildland Adventures guests arrive and depart from Istanbul where over several days the Grand Bazaar, Spice Market, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Hippodrome waft scents and legends overlooking the Bosphorus. Here they may meet for wine and conversation with a Wildland Adventures’ alumna who fell in love with Turkey, American scholar Meg Russet, and her husband, Zafar Sari, a Turkish sculptor.
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Wildland Adventure also offers a 15-day Heart of Turkey Family Adventure that includes stays in village homes; a 12-day Phoenician-style gulet cruise, Voyaging Among the Dodecanese of Greece and Turkey; and a 9-day Highlights of Turkey adventure. The company can arrange custom trips and private gullet charters on custom itineraries.