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Walking and Exploring Cappadocia and The Land of the Hittites

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On The Platinum list: 70 indulgent reasons to travel in 2014 - The Australian Financial Review’s Sophisticated Traveller

“Walking and Exploring Cappadocia and the Land of the Hittites”, combines two of the country’s most enchanting and historically significant regions with Turkey’s modern capital, Ankara. All three lie within the great Central Anatolian Plateau that defines the heart of Asia Minor today as it has done since time immemorial.

Due to its geographic position between seas and continents, Central Anatolia has served as a cultural bridge of immense importance from prehistory to the present, a point of movement and contact, conflict and amalgamation. The number of peoples and cultures that have passed through, settled and interacted here is beyond count, they range from Paleolithic hunter-gatherers and the first farmers of the Neolithic, via the fascinating Bronze Age civilization of the Hittites, the Phrygians, Persians and Romans of antiquity, to the Byzantines, Seljuks, Ottomans, Greeks and Turks. Each of them has left its own distinctive mark on the remarkably diverse history of Central Anatolia. 

That fascinating diversity, reflected by landscapes and settlements, is especially tangible in the form of a great wealth of archaeological and historical sites. Ankara, the Hittite heartlands and Cappadocia form a triangle that is not vast, but they are extraordinarily different, each offering a unique and unforgettable experience.

The tour begins at Ankara, where it takes in the city’s important Roman and medieval remains and the vast collection of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, one of the world’s most important treasuries of prehistoric art. The journey then leads you to discover the Land of the Hittites, their citadels, shrines and cities, gaining a deep insight into the complex culture that arose from this country, but also veering off the beaten track to walk and explore many hidden paths through history.

In Cappadocia, you will admire an awe-inspiring geological wonderland of fantastic rock formations endlessly varied in shape and colour, formed over many millennia by volcanic activity and subsequent erosion. Walking through some of the region’s most beautiful valleys and canyons, you will also explore its unique cultural heritage, with countless man-made structures cut into the cliffs and rocks, from simple chambers and dovecotes, to elaborate chapels, entire monasteries and the famous and mysterious Underground Cities. Due to its many painted rock-cut churches, Cappadocia is a veritable treasury of Byzantine Art, which developed and thrived here for over 500 years and provides us with many fascinating details and stories. 

With famed highlights like Hattusha, the enormous fortified Hittite Capital, and Göreme Open Air Museum, the very heart of Cappadocia, both UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites, this tour leads you to an intense and memorable encounter with a great and ancient city and with two famous regions, renowned for their history, archaeology and landscape.

Led by an expert archaeologist who is eager to share her knowledge of and vivid enthusiasm for the region and its heritage, this tour explores the long and complex history of Turkey’s capital, Ankara, the ancient Hittite empire of Bronze Age Anatolia, and the vibrant art of Byzantine Cappadocia. On top of all this, you’ll discover off the beaten track historical gems, mostly on foot, and savour some of the finest regional foods and wines.

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Day 1: Arrival in Ankara. Transfer from airport, about 30 minutes away and a warm welcome at our lovely hotel, a beautifully restored Ottoman caravanserai.

Day 2: We visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. You’ll see some of Turkey’s finest ancient treasures, including exhibits from several of the sites we’ll be exploring during the tour. On to the temple of Augustus, the very first Roman Emperor. At the end of the day we watch the sun set over Turkey’s capital from its historic castle.

Day 3: East to the heartland of the Hittite kingdom and our hotel in Bogazcale, the modern village of Hattusha. We take our first walk on the Hittite Trail and visit Alaca Höyük, one of Turkey’s key prehistoric archaeological sites, a fortified citadel with royal tombs where a wealth of finds including jewellery, weapons and ritual objects were discovered dating back to the Bronze Age.

Day 4: We head out for a walk across the plains and rolling hills of central Anatolia. Today you’ll explore two of the most fascinating and important sites of the Hittites. At Hattusha, the capital, you’ll stroll through the celebrated Lion Gate and see the city’s ramparts, palaces and temples. A sacred way led to the Yazilkaya Sanctuary, where you can still see the chief gods and goddesses of the Hittites carved into the rock.

Day 5: South to Cappadocia and our lovely hotel in the old town of Uçhisar. A gentle afternoon for you to relax or explore before we climb to a local highpoint for a grand vista.

Day 6: We begin our exploration of Cappadocia with a walk through the unbelievably picturesque Red Valley with its colourful rock formations and impressive fairy chimneys. We stop by Çavuşin village to visit its richly frescoed church and later at a private wine tasting you’ll enjoy some of the region’s finest wines as the sun sets over the magnificent landscape.

Day 7: We walk through the delightful Gomeda Valley, crisscrossing the stream on small bridges, passing rock-cut dwellings, cave churches and the old village of Gomeda itself. You’ll then discover the excavations of Roman and Byzantine Sobessos and the rock cut Keslik Monastery with its beautiful frescoes and enormous dining hall.

Day 8: We visit the mysterious underground city of Kaymaklı and explore its tunnels, shafts, rooms, storage spaces and church. Next, we walk through the lush Ihlara Canyon, admiring its pure river, painted churches and lovely scenery. In the early evening, you’ll see dervishes whirling in a medieval caravanserai.

Day 9: A morning walk in pretty Pigeon Valley with its many rock-cut dovecotes, still inhabited by the descendants of the birds brought here centuries ago. In the late afternoon, you’ll discover the most famous site of Cappadocia, the Göreme Open Air Museum, a vast complex of painted cave monasteries. The 11th century frescoes in Karanlık Kilise (Dark Church) are among the finest examples of Byzantine art.

Day 10: Transfer to Nevşehir airport about 40 minutes away.

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Arrival and Departure Information

Arrival Airport – Ankara
Departure Airport – Nevşehir

Check in time at our hotel in Ankara is after 12:00 so we recommend choosing a flight that arrives mid to late afternoon on October 4th.  Check out time on October 13th is 11:00. We will arrange local transfers from Ankara airport on the 4th and to Nevşehir airport on the 13th.

Booking Flights
There are a number of airlines that offer domestic flights in Turkey such as Turkish Airlines. Turkish Airlines has a wide selection of flights on these days and there are alternative flights with some of Turkey’s low cost airlines such as Atlas Jet, and Onur Air. The cheapest way to book flights is directly with the airline online.

Please note: Flights are subject to change. Please contact the airline for exact details.

If you prefer to book with a travel agent, we are happy to recommend specialists in a number of countries around the world, please contact our office for more details.

Further information about the Walking
Our new Walking and Exploring Cappadocia and the Land of the Hittites tour aims to be an comprehensive introduction to the archaeology, culture and landscapes of two key historical regions of Central Anatolia: the heartlands of the ancient Hittite civilization and its capital Hattusha, and Early Christian and medieval Cappadocia, set within a truly extraordinary volcanic landscape.

On this new captivating itinerary we will visit various landscapes of great and very special beauty in both these regions: we will walk on two trails in the Hittite lands (about (8km/4-5miles each) and enjoy four main walks in Cappadocia, ranging between 3 and 12km (1.5 - 7 miles). We have chosen some of the most interesting routes in these regions, providing access at the same time to their fascinating history and great natural beauty. On average we’ll be walking for something in the region of about 3 hours in addition to the site visits.

Please be aware that the terrain is often uneven, rocky or slippery, especially in Cappadocia, where much of the landscape is covered in a thick volcanic tufa layer. It is advisable to use walking sticks/hiking poles and participants in the tour should be fit and have a good sense of balance. There are some stretches of uphill and downhill walking, including also built steps. During some of the walks we will be following streambeds at the bottom of valleys or canyons, which usually dry up during the summer. We take all our walks at a leisurely pace, including various stops at selected scenic places for refreshment and relaxation. Since this tour aims to combine the pleasure of leisurely walks, relaxation and fine accommodation with expert guiding on the historical and archaeological riches of the area, it is designed for medium-level walkers. That said, it is certainly not intensely physically demanding.

We will be able to discover, on foot, not only diverse fascinating landscapes and dense flora (including hidden orchards, vineyards and oak trees, rivers, lakes and waterfalls) but also many archaeological sites and open air museums, like the Hittite capital, the Yazilikaya Open Air Temple of the Hittites’ “Thousand Gods”, the hidden rock-cut churches of Cappadocia, as well as its monasteries, caravanserais and old villages carved into multicoloured tufa rocks. We look forward to welcoming you.

Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is a requirement of our booking conditions and we recommend you investigate the options thoroughly to make sure that your trip is properly covered. Please be advised some insurers may require you to take out a policy within 15-20 days of booking your holiday to receive all of their insurance benefits. If you would prefer not to take out travel insurance please let us know. We would require you to complete and return to us a travel insurance waiver form.

Visas
Visas are easily obtained online at eVisa and must be purchased before you travel.

Istanbul
If you are planning to stay in Istanbul before or after your gulet tour we have included below links to more information and things to see and do.

Istanbul Destination Guide
Istanbul Travel Article

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This is a previous tour itinerary. However, we can offer it as a private tour. Please see our Gulet Charters page for more information.