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travel information and faq's about holidays to Eastern Turkey

Travel information and FAQs on Eastern Turkey

Why travel with us?
We are a local family run company from Gevas and based in the city of Van. Because we are local we know our region better than anyone else. In addition to this, we offer the biggest range of tours of eastern Turkey and Cappadocia with a degree of flexibility and assurance that comes with years of serving the needs of visitors to our region.


What do we mean by sustainable or responsible tourism?
As a company from a less travelled region of the world where traditional lifestyles are still widely practiced we feel very strongly about the principles behind the concept of sustainable and responsible tourism. Tourism has a considerable ability to both sustain and enrich communities and environments but also the power to degrade them. We clearly have a responsibility to those we visit and it is important that tourism not only enriches the communities that tourists visit but that the traveller should leave enriched as well. We conduct our business, as we say on our web site home page, to ensure that local and small businesses share in the revenue and knowledge brought to us by our guests and that our guests should have the opportunity to experience the hospitality and cultural wealth that our region has to offer.  We are in the business of bringing our neighbourhood to the world for the betterment of us all.

An example of the way in which we ensure that local communities and businesses benefit from our approach to our business is the way we contract our transport. We do not use big national operators and we do not run our own fleet. We prefer to work with locally based owner operators. One of our owner operators is Faruk. We have worked with Faruk Atacan for ten years; he is typical of the small business upon which local economies in more remote regions depend. Faruk is a family man with two young children. He is from Van and he runs a VW 17 seat minibus equipped with all the mod cons, including A/C, fridge, and TV - his mini bus is his pride and joy and he brings a sense of pride, dedication and personal service to his work that large operators simply can not match.  Harun Dayan, another of the operators we work with and a more recent addition to our extended “family” is a young man who will be getting married later this year; he lives with his elderly parents and is, with his brothers, their main support. Harun runs a Mercedes 17 seater that has along with all the other amenities, Wifi connection.  We use our extensive networking knowledge to put business opportunities, whenever we can, to those who are the bedrock of the region’s economy- the little guy.


Is it safe to travel to and around Turkey?
Turkey is one of the safest countries in the world in which to travel, with a crime rate that is low when compared to most Western European countries. While we recommend that travellers to Turkey exercise the same precautions they would elsewhere, and be aware of security concerns that affect all international travellers, it is worth noting that Interpol has ranked Turkey as one of the safest holiday destination in Europe for travellers. Statistically, you are probably safer in Turkey than you are at home.

Eastern Turkey has had particular security issues due to political concerns over the past few years. However, the security situation has returned to what one would normally expect for any popular tourist destination. You can still expect to see a military and police presence in the eastern-most provinces of the country such as Agri, Van and Bitlis. Contacts with the authorities at check points are, without exception, courteous and routine in nature.

The Turkish Government takes air safety very seriously, and maintains strict oversight, on both international and domestic flights. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has placed Turkey's civil aviation authority in Category 1 - this is in full compliance with international aviation safety standards in overseeing Turkey's air carrier operations. In fact, following the September 11 attacks, Turkish Airlines was one of the first international airlines cleared by the FAA to fly into the United States.


Important changes to visas for Turkey
Most foreign nationals require a visa to enter Turkey. From April 10, 2014 the system for obtaining visas at the point of entry to Turkey is being discontinued. There is a new simplified on-line visa (e-visa) application system. Visas must be obtained prior to arrival in Turkey

The simple 3 step process is accessed here:

It is important that your passport has at least six months left to run prior to the date that you will leave Turkey. This ruling applies to many other nationals but please check when organising your trip.


When is the best time to travel to and around Turkey?
Turkey has a very wide range of geographical and climate zones ranging from wet and humid regions along the Black Sea coast to hot and dry along the southern Mediterranean coast and southern land borders. One can travel to Turkey at any time of the year and enjoy a wide range of cultural and sporting amenities and attractions. However, the high season for travel in Turkey runs from April to October. In the peak holiday season of July, August and September temperatures can be high - from the low 30s to the high 40s centigrade, depending on where you are  During the off-season, temperatures are much cooler along the coastal regions and snow, sometimes over a metre in depth, is frequent inland, in eastern regions and mountainous areas. Many visitors enjoy the spring and autumn, which has milder weather and smaller numbers of tourists. A perfect time to visit, particularly in the east, is spring because of the profusion of wild flowers and other flora and fauna.

For more detailed information on regional climate conditions please contact us directly or visit the web site of the Turkish Meteorological Service at www.meteor.gov.tr

or alternatively for a quick summary view: www.doineedajacket.com


How should visitors dress in Turkey?
Casual wear is appropriate for most tour excursions and normal swim wear for the beach or lake side. Women should wear trousers or skirts (to the ankle) when visiting mosques or functioning religious locations and should cover heads, shoulders and upper arms with a scarf and neither sexes should wear shorts.


Health and Medicines
Basic precautions relating to your health should be taken in Turkey as they would be taken in any country. All pharmaceutical products are available in Turkey, many of them over the counter, but it is important that you know which medications you are taking by generic rather than brand name. For instance Ranitidine rather than Zantac, Diclofenac rather than Voltarol or Zipsor, Loperamide rather than Imodium and so on. Pharmacies across the country in all towns and cities are well stocked and efficiently staffed. Health clinics are available in all towns and cities with doctors and medical staff, many of whom speak English and other European languages, who are trained to western standards. We would also recommend that you take out standard travel insurance before you leave home to augment our TURSAB cover.


How easily can I keep in touch with home and abroad?
Turkey is fully linked in with the information superhighway. Cell and mobile phone networks are all compatible in Turkey, even in remote areas, but you will need to check with your home network provider in order to ensure connection and prevent costly bills. Internet cafes are widely available across the country, even in small towns. Many hotels will provide computers and, much to your surprise, you will find that nearly all hotels, large and small, rural and urban, will provide excellent wireless internet connection free of charge.


What are the electricity connections?
Turkey operates on 220 volts, 50 Hz, with round-prong European-style plugs that fit into recessed wall sockets /points.

Four and five star hotels often provide North American-style 120 volts, 60 Hz flush-mounted sockets (points) for North American flat-prong plugs.

Check your appliances before leaving home to see what you'll need to plug in when you travel in Turkey.
Many appliances with their own power adapters (such as laptop computers and digital cameras) can be plugged into either 110-120-volt or 220-240-volt sockets/points and will adapt to the voltage automatically, (but you will need a plug adaptor that can fit into the recessed wall socket/point).


What is the food in Turkey like?
Turkish cuisine, along with French and Chinese is considered one of the great cuisines of the world. It is the heritage of the Ottoman Empire and is a true expression of “fusion cuisine” combining the elements of cooking from the Balkans, Central Asia, the Near East and the Middle East with a strong thread of Turkic elements throughout. There are also strong influences from the many and varied Anatolian regions. The range and variety of breads cakes and pastries available in Turkey easily matches, if not exceeds that of the French bakery. The heart of the Turkish kitchen is fresh and wholesome seasonal and local produce. You will enjoy every meal.


What attractions does Turkey offer related to religious history?
History has been generous to Turkey, which has been the crucible of the three major world religions - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Turkey is one of a few countries where all three religions have co-existed peacefully for centuries. There are many important sites in Turkey of interest to people of all faiths.

People are increasingly discovering the important role Turkey has played in the history of Christianity. Travellers can discover many magnificent churches, some nearly as old as Christianity itself, and can retrace the footsteps of Saints Peter and Paul from the Biblical city of Antioch to the underground churches of Cappadocia. Many of the most important events in Christian history occurred in Turkey.
The stunning Monastery of the Virgin Mary located near the Black Sea in Trabzon is a well-known monastic centre dating to the 4th century. Built on the edge of a l200 foot cliff and accessible only by foot, it housed some of the Orthodox Church's greatest thinkers. The beautiful 11th century church of The Holy Cross at Akhtamar, Lake Van is a major religious site and central to Armenian religious history in eastern Turkey and there is a number of working Syriac monasteries in south eastern Turkey especially the beautiful Saffron Monastery near Mardin. The Saffron Monastery is of particular interest as services are conducted in Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ. The site of the monastery has been a place of religious reverence long before it was claimed for Christianity as it was the site of a temple to the Sun dating back to 1000 BC; it is still possible to visit this ancient temple which is intact and forms the foundation of the monastery buildings.

Judaism has had a continuous presence in Turkey since ancient times. Signs written in Hebrew and menorahs carved into stone at historical sites such as Ephesus, Kusadasi, Priene, Hierapolis, and Pamukkale attest to long history of Jews in Turkey. In Sardis, near Izmir, the remains of the largest ancient synagogue in existence date to the 3rd century AD. Its frescoes and mosaics suggest a large, well-established and successful Jewish community in Sardis.
According to the legend of the great flood, Noah's Ark ran aground at Mount Agri (Ararat). When the floodwaters receded, Noah and his family descended from the mountain to the fertile Igdir Plain and repopulated the world.
Jewish Patriarchs Abraham and Job also made their mark in eastern Turkey. Sanli Urfa in south-eastern Turkey is known as the city of Prophets. A cave there is said to be the birthplace of the prophet Abraham. It has become a place of pilgrimage and is now surrounded by the Halil Rahman Mosque. The Prophet Job, who was famed for his patience, is believed to have spent seven years recovering from illness inside another cave located in the district of Eyyubiye two kilometres south of Sanli Urfa.
Jews have enjoyed tolerance and peace in Turkey for centuries. After the Jewish communities in Spain and Portugal were exiled in 1492 during the Inquisition, Sultan Beyazit II welcomed them to the Ottoman Empire. As a result, many Jewish communities still thrive in modern Turkey.

Visitors to Turkey cannot be unaware of the importance of faith in the daily life of the people because of daily cycle framed by the call to prayer from elegant minarets that punctuate the skyline of every city and town. The call is heard five times a day, inviting the faithful to face towards Mecca and for the daily ritual of prayer. Although Turkey is a secular democracy which guarantees freedom of religion for all people, Islam is the country's predominant religion. Islam's roots in Turkey date to the 10th Century. In the ensuing centuries Seljuk and Ottoman Turks constructed impressive mosques and religious institutions with elegant interior decorations and imposing domes and minarets. Virtually every Turkish city has a mosque of historical or architectural significance. Eastern Turkey is particularly rich in some of the early Seljuk religious and cultural sites.

Pre Christian religious sites are also crucial to the cultural and religious map of our world and many of these sites are to be found in eastern and south eastern Turkey. Notable among them is what is believed to be the earliest religious construction yet to be discovered by archaeologists - the 13,000 year old temple complex at Gobekli Tepe near Sanli Urfa in south eastern Turkey. It is possible to visit the Gobekli Tepe archaeological site and observe the ongoing excavations.


Are any vaccinations required for tourists entering Turkey?
There are no vaccination requirements for any international traveller other than the normal vaccinations and immunisations. Travellers to the south eastern border region may require anti malarial medication during the summer months.


If you have further questions about travelling to Turkey please do not hesitate to contact us. We can be reached via the following contacts:

Sabahattin (Turkish Office)

Nick (UK Office)

Sally (UK Office)
Email: sally@easternturkeytour.org

Eastern Turkey tours telephone contact numbers
Gobekli Tepe/Girê Navokê
The world's first temple
gobekli tepe
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Interesting reading…

There are a number of good books that cover the fact and fiction of central and eastern Turkey. Below is a brief selection.

Jeremy Seal - A fez of the heart

A Fez of the Heart
by Jeremy Seal

Eastern Turkey Travel guide

Eastern Turkey (Bradt Travel Guide)
by Diana Darke
(Paperback - 20 Feb 2011)

Eastern Turkey Travel guide

Turkish Reflections: A Biography of a Place
by Mary Lee Settle

Eastern Turkey Travel guide

Beyond Ararat: Journey Through Eastern Turkey
by Bettina Selby
(Paperback - 6 Jan 1994)

Eastern Turkey Travel guide

A Traveller on Horseback in Eastern Turkey and Iran, May 1989
by Christina Dodwell

Eastern Turkey Travel guide

The Long March: Xenophon and the Ten Thousand
by Robin Lane Fox
(Hardcover - 14 Sep 2004)

Eastern Turkey Travel guide

Dance with Death (Inspector Ikmen Mysteries)
by Barbara Nadel
(Paperback - 5 Jun 2006)

Eastern Turkey Travel guide

River of the Dead
by Barbara Nadel
(Hardcover - 8 Jan 2009)

Eastern Turkey Travel guide

The Sultan's Seal: A Novel (Kamil Pasha Novels)
by Jenny B. White
(Paperback - 13 Apr 2007)

Eastern Turkey Travel guide - Noahs Ark

The Lost Ship of Noah: In Search of the Ark at Ararat
by Charles Berlitz
(Hardcover - Feb 1987)

Eastern turkey tours travel book reference - Journey to Kars

Journey to Kars: A Modern Traveller in the Ottoman Lands (Travel Library)
by Phillip Glazebrook

Lords of the Horizons- a history of the ottoman empire

Lords of the Horizons : A History of the Ottoman Empire [Paperback]
by Jason Goodwin

the turkish embassy letters book

The Turkish Embassy Letters
by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Eastern turkey tours travel book reference - Ataturk

by Andrew Mango
(Paperback - 16 Feb 2004)

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