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Off the Beaten Track
Duration: 11 Days / 10 Nights
Highlights: Istanbul, Mardin, Harran, Urfa, Mt. Nemrut, Kahta, Cappadocia
Departure Dates: Everyday, weather permitting in Southeast & Eastern Turkey
Note: Use the below itinerary as an outline, you may omit or add other attractions you have in mind. You can fine-tune the itinerary or change it as much as you like & our travel consultants will work with you until all your questions are answered & you are satisfied.



Day 01 : Istanbul Arrival
Arrival to Istanbul Airport & meet for transfer on to the hotel. Rest of the day is then at leisure.
Overnight in Istanbul.

Day 02 : Istanbul
After breakfast, begin with a visit to Topkapi Palace, the main residence of the Ottoman Sultans, with its jewel encrusted treasury & elegant four courts. Nearby, we take a stroll through the ancient Hippodrome, once the sporting ground of chariots & political riots. After a lunch break, visit Hagia Sophia Museum, once the largest church in the world for 1000 years. Then visit the Blue Mosque, designed with 6 delicate minarets & a striking blue Iznik tiled interior. Finally, visit the Grand Bazaar, where you can shop or haggle with local merchants over merchandise. Overrnight in Istanbul.
   
Day 03 : Istanbul
Pick up from your hotel lobby, with a small group we head to explore the bustling Egyptian Spice Market of 17th century origin. Next we take a ferry up Istanbul's winding Bosphorus strait. You will see, Ottoman summer mansions & the beautiful Ortakoy mosque, the defensive Rumeli Fortress, all alongside passing fishing boats, yachts, huge cargo ships & tankers. After a lunch break back on shore, we will Dolmabahce Palace, returning back to hotel for overnight stay.

Day 04 : Istanbul / Mardin

Take a flight from Istanbul to Mardin. Arrival & meeting at the airport transfer to hotel. the city of Mardin, with its golden stone houses that blend into the hills. The houses are often decorated with intricate carvings. This is a very lively trading center with people coming from surrounding villages to buy & sell. We will have a fantastic view of the Plain of Mesopotamia. Visit the Syriac-Jacobite Monastery of Deyrulzaferan. Overnight Mardin.

Day 05 : Mardin / Urfa
Our drive today takes us to Sanliurfa. We pass the Euphrates River & stop at Birecik, which is famous for the nearly extinct Bald Ibis. We will have lunch in Sanliurfa & visit the Mevlid Halil Mosque, the Cave of Prophet Abraham, then the sacred fish pool. You will have a chance to wander in the Old Bazaar. Drive to Harran - city of the prophet Abraham. See the fortress, Islamic school & curious beehive-shaped adobe houses. Overnight Urfa.

Day 06 : Urfa / Kahta (Mt. Nemrut)
Complete visits in Urfa & drive to Kahta. Check-in hotel. Rise very early for the drive & the walk up to the summit of Mt. Nemrut, which is the highest mountain (2150 m) in Northern Mesopotamia. View a fantastic sunrise from the East Terrace. Visit the East & West terraces, fire altar, statues of Apollo, Zeus, Hercules, Tyche & Antiochus Epiphanes I, tumulus, reliefs & the world's first horoscope. Overnight in Kahta (near Mt. Nemrut).

Day 07 : Kahta / Cappadocia
Descend down the mountain through small villages & beautiful scenery. Cross the Cendere Roman Bridge - built by Septimus Severus in the 2nd century AD & still in use! See Karakus, a tumulus of the royal Commagene women. After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Cappadocia . It is possible to see the huge Ataturk Dam & visit Kahramanmaras on the way. Overnight Cappadocia.

Day 08 : Cappadocia
After breakfast, first meeting with the lunar landscape of Cappadocia, rock formations beyond belief in Devrent valley; walking in Zelve Open Air Museum: a journey in the past with its troglodyte houses. Lunch in Avanos. Visit the famous Goreme Open Air Museum & see the best examples of Byzantine art in Cappadocia in rock-cut churches with frescoes & paintings. Climb on top of the Uchisar rock citadel to have a panoramic view of the valleys of Cappadocia.

Day 09 : Cappadocia
Free day at leisure, overnight Cappadocia.

Day 10 : Cappadocia / Istanbul

Morning transfer to Kayseri Airport for Istanbul flight. Transfer to hotel upon arrival, free day in Istanbul & overnight.

Day 11 : Istanbul Departure
Depending on your flight time, transfer to Istanbul Airport for homebound flight.

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