Day 1 - Istanbul to Cappadocia - (L)
Early in the morning, we will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the domestic airport for a 1-hour flight to Kayseri. After arrival, we will drive you to Cappadocia.
Sites you’ll see today:
*The World Heritage Site of Goreme Open-Air Museum--This is a cluster of rock cut Byzantine churches, chapels and monasteries which include some wonderful 11th and 12th century frescoes on the cave walls. This place was used by the Christians as a place of refuge from those opposed to Christianity and also was a major monastery. Rooms, churches, houses, and gathering halls have all been cut into the rock or formed from natural caves. Within the caves you can explore and see the preserved mosaics and frescoes.
*Fairy Chimneys--These geological phenomenon have been shaped over millions of years. They were formed during volcanic eruptions in the region. Reaching at times 40 meters in height, they are conical in shape and have a "hat" top to them.
*Devrent Valley--This valley is know as "the pink valley" because of the color of it’s soil. This is a lovely place to wander around and look at the magical rock formations indicative to Cappadocia, including the Fairy Chimneys.
*Uchisar Castle--Also called a fortress, this is actually a formation of two gigantic rocks surrounded by smaller rocks that together form a natural fortress with towers. These formations were inhabited during both the Byzantine and Ottoman times. You can climb and explore the different caves and rooms throughout the fortress, experiencing first-hand what it must have been like to hide in these fortified rocks, waiting for the ancient enemy to pass by or give up.
Time permitting, we'll also visit local crafts people and learn the special art of making dolls and traditional pottery.
Overnight in Cappadocia
Day 2 - Cappadocia to Istanbul - (B/L)
Today will be spent walking through an underground city where ancient people once fled for their lives escaping the Arab invaders, wandering through Ihlara Gorge and spending time in an Anatolian village. As we will need to drive for awhile in order to reach our first destination, we will be starting out quite early this morning.
Sites you'll see today:
* Underground City of Derinkuyu--You'll gradually make your way down into the depths of the earth of this ancient settlement that has 18-20 floors which boast depths as long as 40 meters. (Don't worry, we'll only go down to the 8th floor!) You'll marvel at the fact that Derinkuyu is just one of 36 Cappadocian underground cities, which archaeologists date back to the time of the Hittites around 4,000 years ago.
Timeless Derinkuyu will leave you with a sense of awe in how these underground dwellers lived. As you wind your way down, you will begin to feel as if you are in a maze of epic proportions. Everywhere you look, there will be nooks and crannies carved into the rocks: holes, windows , paths, alleys, little rooms. You will see ancient kitchens and stables; storage jars for oil, wine and water; rock-carved tables, chairs, and beds; and deep wells for water. You will be amazed at the elaborate ancient ventilation the residents constructed.
* Ihlara Valley is an oasis in the middle of the Anatolian plain. We'll explore this canyon and take in the beautiful green scenery as we stroll alongside the river. Here, you'll see ancient monasteries complete with pigeon holes carved into the cliffs by the monks; the pigeons acted as messengers to communicate with neighboring monks!
Ihlara is a 16-km -long gorge cut into volcanic rock and is the result of several eruptions of Mount Erciyes. The whole canyon is honeycombed with rock-cut underground dwellings and churches from the Byzantine period.
The early Chistians escaping from Roman soldiers hid here, and there are hundreds of antique churches carved in the volcanic rocks.
* Traditional Anatolian village -- You'll see head-scarved women in the fields (where they work from sun up until sundown) and the mustachioed, vest-wearing men hard-at-work playing cards or tavla (backgammon) in the kahvehane (coffee shop). You'll get time to stroll in a village such as this and see the average Turkish villager at work...or play.
After the tour we will transfer you back to the Kayseri airport for your 1-hour return flight back to Istanbul. After your arrival, then we will transfer you to your hotel in either the Sultanahmet or Taksim Square area.
Prices are starting from $______ per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates
*1 night's accommodation in a luxury "cave hotel"
* All land and airport transfers in comfortable vehicles
* 1 breakfast & 2 lunches
* Professional, English-speaking tour guides
* Domestic flight tickets from Istanbul to Kayseri
* Domestic flight tickets from Kayseri to Istanbul
* Admissions to Goreme Open Air Museum, Uchisar Castle and the Underground Cities
* All taxes and service charges
* Drinks with meals
* Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia (13% discount if booked with this tour)
(NOTE: If you don't wish to return Istanbul and would prefer to continue on to a different location, such as Nemrut, Pamukkale, Ephesus or Antalya, we can organize your transfers to these, or any other destination.)