Depart for Urfa. En route we will visit the Ataturk Dam, which is part of the South eastern Anatolia Project (GAP). An impressive, huge, hydro-electric and irrigation project on the upper reaches of the Euphrates River. Urfa is called the City of Prophets for its biblical connections. Sightseeing again will be at a pace to enable you to fully appreciate this enchanting city, taking in the castle with huge Roman columns which dominate the top of the hill, The Pool of Sacred Carp, surrounded by architecturally exquisite buildings and the large, green, and floral gardens where we will visit the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham.
Comfortable coach ride to Harran, a famous city from ancient Mesopotamian times; a mystical and ancient place of "bee hive" houses built of mud and straw. A short walk from the "bee hive" houses is the ruined site of the first Islamic University of the world. The Bible speaks of this town as the place where Abraham and his family lived.
We will visit the on going archaeological dig at Gobekli Tepe. This extraordinary site is the oldest religious structure built by man yet discovered; at 10 - 11 thousand years BC these structures pre date not only Stonehenge and the Pyramids but also writing and the discovery of the skills of pottery. From Gobekli Tepe we carry on to Mardin where you will have time to browse around the shops or take in the sights.
After breakfast we will visit Deir-Al-Zafaran (the Saffron Monastery), once centre of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchy and still an active monastery. Drive to Hasankeyf which has hundreds of caves, hidden waterways, tombs, a larger and smaller Palace, as well as ruins of the Great Mosque. Depart for Tatvan on Lake Van along the Bitlis river gorge.
On the south eastern shore of Lake Van we find Nemrut Mountain. This huge volcanic mountain is one of the largest intact calderas in the world. The highest peak of the mountain stands at 3050 metres. There are five lakes within the crater, and the larger two, which we will visit, are wonderfully different. The Cold Lake (13 sq. kms) has an average depth of 100 metres. The Hot Lake has a visible amount of steam rising from its thermal springs, great for a dip if you have your bathing costumes and towels? For those who arrive between June and September we will see and visit the nomadic people who spend their summers around Nemrut Crater Lake, bringing their livestock to the rich pastureland. On to Van, stopping to visit Akdamar Island, with its ancient Armenian Church of the Holy Cross.
The City of Van, a vibrant and colourful city. Take time to visit the museum, where there are many fascinating artefacts including carvings, Roman jewellery, arms and armour and ancient head dresses. The city is dominated by its 3000 year old Urartian citadel, almost a mile long. We will take time to explore these rich ruins and watch the extraordinary sunset over Lake Van.
Travel to Dogubeyazit, via the waterfall at Muradiye, with its rope bridge. Dogubeyazit, a frontier town, is a very traditional eastern town, where you will be expected to dress conservatively, but again the welcome will be very warm. We will travel just past the town to Ishak Pasha's Pleasure Palace, where the Governor lived in splendour! From Dogubeyazit we return to Van in time for the sunset over the citadel on Van's castle rock.
Depart from Van airport for Istanbul and home.