DAYS 65 – 77: TURKEY
Crossing the border from Georgia into Turkey, your first stop is Ysufeli, a small typical rural Turkish town set amongst rocky surroundings on the Çoruh River.
Continuing south you will arrive in the town of Kahta. Nearby you can climb the 2150m Nemrut Dagi – where the statues of the gods of antiquity lie scattered at the summit. These huge statues were carved from solid rock by King Antiochus during the reign of Emperor Nero.
After a long day’s drive you arrive at the visually powerful, windswept landforms of Cappadocia. Here, over the centuries, houses, churches, fortresses and even underground cities have been carved into this eerily eroded volcanic rock. The Goreme Valley provides an astonishing setting in which to spend a few days investigating the region. Why not take in the scenery from the skies in a Hot Air Balloon flight (optional). You will visit one of the underground cities where you can explore this ancient and mysterious area alone or with a guide.
You then travel towards Pamukkale where you can swim in warm, mineral-rich water, before continuing west to the Aegean Coast at Selcuk and follow the Turquoise Coast where you visit Ephesus on your way to Troy. Built by the Greeks a thousand years before Christ and then rebuilt by the Romans, this immense ancient city boasts an amphitheatre that can seat 24000 and a harbour with no water – still in good condition after all these years.
As your overland trip draws to an end, you embark on a half day drive through olive groves and rural settlements to Gallipoli and the Straits of the Dardanelles. In World War I, on this blustery and exposed peninsula, ANZAC and British Forces struggled unsuccessfully for nine horrendous months to dislodge Turkish troops from the hills above the beaches. It is a moving experience to visit the war graves and battlegrounds where so much suffering and unnecessary loss of life took place.
From here you cross the Straits of the Dardanelles, leave Asia and head for Istanbul, the meeting point of Asia and Europe.
Your overland tour includes one night in Istanbul but there is so much to see and do here so why not stay on for a few more days in order to explore this city’s many sights and attractions including the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cisterns, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market, Topkapi Palace and much more.