To Cappadocia via Tuzgolu, Turkey’s Great Salt Lake, stopping to visit the Agzikarahan and Tepesidelikhan caravanserais along the way, Overnight stay in Urgup.
Morning in Cappadocia visiting the Goreme Open Air Museum with its many rock- cut churches and monasteries many of which still contain magnificent frescos of great age.
From Goreme we will visit some of the underground cities and towns at Derinkuyu and Gaziemir. Derinkuyu is one of the many subterranean cities of Cappadocia; going underground as deep as eight storeys the city was capable of hiding thousands of people for many months during times of conflict and invasion.
Just a few kilometres away, Gaziemir’s rock cut caravanserai continues this Cappadocian tradition of using the soft volcanic rock to carve out homes, churches and places of refuge; in this instance a traveller’s rest stop on the Silk Road. To Kayseri; overnight in Kayseri.
Morning tour of Kayseri, an important Silk Road destination and a centre of Islamic learning where there are a number of historically significant Medreses (Islamic schools), from the Seljuk period. At the centre of the city is the Hisar, or citadel, built by the Roman Emperor Justinian during the 6th century AD; it remains today a formidable reminder of the glory of ancient Rome and Byzantium.
Depart for Darende stopping to visit Karatay Caravanserai on the way. The Karatay is considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of Seljuk caravanserais on the Silk Road.
From the Karatay Han we continue to Darende- overnight in Darende with a chance to enjoy the fabulous fresh trout of the Tohma river canyon cooked in a tandir clay oven.
Morning in Darende and a chance to explore the canyon on purpose built walkways. We will also visit the shrine of Somuncu Baba, a beautiful and simple mosque and tomb set on the edge of the Tohma canyon. Much frequented by Turkish travellers this lovely shrine is not on the tourist trail- it is our secret.
The mosque complex also houses a museum dedicated to Somuncu Baba and the community of Darende.
Afternoon: Diversion off the Silk Road route to visit the Mountain Top Tomb of Nemrut. We will travel to Mt Nemrut to watch the sunset. Lost for nearly 2000 years, the monument was only rediscovered in the 1890s by a government surveyor.
Depart Nemrut for Diyarbakir. Diyarbakir is a predominantly Kurdish city and is located on the highest navigable point on the River Tigris. It is richly endowed with significant buildings and has more historic mosques, churches and other principal buildings than any city in Turkey except Istanbul; the city walls of Diyarbakir are more than five kilometres long, among the longest defensive walls in the world second only to the Great Wall of China.
From Diyarbakir we continue to Tatvan through the flood plain of the Tigris, up the Bitlis Gorge and past Bitlis, an important gateway to the east and a vital junction on the Silk Road. We will overnight in Tatvan.
Ahlat where there are significant Seljuk monuments and cemeteries that mark the first presence of the Seljuk Turks in Anatolia and then on along the southern shores of Lake Van to the Island of Akdamar with its 10th century Armenian church. This is one of the best know examples of Armenian religious architecture anywhere in the region. Overnight in Van.
We travel along a tributary route of the Silk Road to visit Dogubeyazit and the beautiful Pleasure Palace of Ishak Pasha .We will also see the Biblical Mountain of Ararat where Noah’s Ark came to rest after the flood.
Return to Van via the Muradiye Falls. Overnight in Van
(Optional depending on flight connections for Istanbul and home) From Van we travel south for the last leg of our journey along the Silk Road (Uzun Yol) in Turkey. We visit Hosap Castle.
The main castle structure of Hosap was built straddling the Silk Road and served as both a means of protecting the road and as a point of charging tolls on travellers. Constructed in 1643 by a local Kurdish chieftain called Mahmudi Sari Suleyman (or Blond Suleyman) the castle is built on a rocky outcrop on the north bank of the Hosap River.
From Hosap we return to Van for our flights to Istanbul and home.