Sailing, History and Cultural Exploration of Istanbul, Ephesus and the Lycian Shore of the Turquoise Coast. 11 Days including 7 days/ 6 nights aboard a traditional wooden motor sail yacht.
This was our very first international destination in 1984. Betsy and Peter led all our departures there from 1984 through 1991. After that time we had Turkish guides lead our adventures and joining us for this trip is Alper Ertubey, one of Turkey’s finest and friendliest guides whom we’ve been working with for over 20 years.
One of our guests’ favorite journeys, you travel aboard a traditional motor/sail yacht - the ideal way to explore this remote corner of the world that is difficult to access by any other means. This adventure cruise is a wonderful blend of active exploration on land, walking through Greek and Roman ruins, swimming and exploring small coastal villages.
For centuries, travel by boat has been a tradition in the Mediterranean. It's easy to imagine the life of the early seafarers as you stand on the deck of our handmade wooden yacht. The words of Homer and the Greek myths take on new life. The experience is certainly romantic. And, one of the great advantages of travel by boat is that you don't have to pack and unpack every day, giving you more time and energy to enjoy your vacation and spend time doing the things you want to do.
As we travel beneath towering mountains falling vertically into crystal blue seas, we visit quaint Turkish villages, hidden rock coves, wooded inlets and magnificent ruins of the Roman, Greek, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Nowhere in the world is there such a rich mix of culture and history as in Turkey, which our local guides bring to life as we travel.
Some nights we anchor in remote bays where you may want to hike among the rocks and pines or swim and relax on a deserted beach. Water temperature should be around 77-80 degrees in September and air temperatures in a 85-90 degrees in the day, and 60-70 at night. There's ample time for swimming and snorkeling.
On a few nights we stay in small towns to stroll along the waterfront and savor the local color in neighborhood cafes. The Turks are wonderful people; friendly, open and honest. They are eager to learn about our country and equally eager to share their own.
We travel aboard a beautiful traditional gulet (pronounced goo – let), handmade in Turkey, ranging from 70-85' in length, with six to nine cabins. The wide beam of these handsome boats provides plenty of comfort and space. The dining area is on the stern deck of the boat, covered with an awning. From this deck a doorway leads to the kitchen/wheelhouse/sitting salon. From the salon there are three stairs down, leading to a hallway from which you enter the cabins. Some of the cabins feature double beds, some two single beds side by side. Each cabin has a private bathroom. There is plentiful deck space for sunning and relaxing. The atmosphere aboard is casual and some people may enjoy sleeping on deck under the starlit sky.
While wind conditions on our yachting trips can be quite variable, the seas are usually calm. People who get seasick need not worry. In order to maximize the time available for exploration, we normally travel under motor power, occasionally raising the sails when wind conditions permit (admittedly this is rare). Normally, we travel about 3-4 hours each day, with the remainder of our time spent ashore or enjoying the comfort of the yacht and swimming in the idyllic seas.
Traditional Turkish meals, on and off-board, are prepared from an array of fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy goods, lamb, and freshly caught fish. Turkish cuisine has a reputation for being among the finest in the world. Both red and white wine is excellent, as is the local beer.
We've had people ages 4 to 87 on these journeys. There is the freedom to participate in as much or little as you like. Whether your interest is in Greco-Roman history, modern Turkish culture, swimming, hiking, lazing in the sun or all the above, you'll find this to be a delightful adventure.
People who wouldn't normally consider a group tour find that these trips attract other independent travelers who are curious and fun traveling companions who have chosen to take advantage of ROW's expertise in planning and executing a wonderful, worry-free vacation. Our extraordinary guides take you to see many places not mentioned in guidebooks and open doors to opportunities you'd never have on your own. From them you'll learn about Turkish history and culture and be treated as a special guest.
While we generally follow the itinerary, the beauty of traveling with a small group is the opportunity to be flexible as we continue to find new places each departure, making each trip unique. Since we are not committed to a strict schedule, we can take advantage of new discoveries that we make along the way, stopping to enjoy a festival, a special wedding invitation, or whatever else might present itself to us. There is ample opportunity for walking on this trip, and the option of staying on the boat rather than going on the walks or hikes, is always available.
Images & Videos
TURKEY'S LYCIAN SHORE - On this itinerary, we start with two nights in Istanbul, visit Ephesus, and spend 7 days and 6 nights aboard our Turkish gullet, returning to Istanbul for one final night. The cruise takes place along the shores of ancient Lycia. The Lycians were a fiercely independent people who settled the area around the 15th century BC. As the landscape is wild, so were the Lycians, the last peoples to be incorporated into the Roman provinces in Asia Minor. They are mentioned numerous times in various ancient histories and throughout our voyage we see remains of their civilization; mostly in the form of extravagant, grandiose tombs. In the mid-19th century the British took many of their finest works and these may be seen in the British Museum in London in the Xanthian Room. Fortunately, there remain many on location to this day. The mystery of their civilization and the wonder of their ruins are indeed an intriguing focal point for our adventure.
Day 0 - Fly USA to Istanbul
Depending on the schedule, this could be Sept 2 or 3. Because Istanbul is such a fascinating city we recommend you arrive a day or two early if possible. ROW can arrange any extra hotel nights and provide suggestions for itineraries or arrange private guided tours of the city.
Day 1- Arrive Istanbul
Meet at designated local hotel in the evening for a welcome dinner and orientation meeting. Overnight accommodation in the Sultanahment District of Istanbul.
Day 2 - Istanbul
For sixteen centuries, Istanbul was the metropolis of the Eastern Mediterranean. We spend the day exploring a few of the highlights of this inexhaustibly fascinating city. We will include as many sites as we can depending on the day of the week. The Topkapi Palace built in 1486 housed Ottoman Sultans for nearly 400 years. Overlooking the Sea of Marmara where the Golden Horn meets the Bosphorus the setting is ideal and it is easy to imagine Sultans spending their days and nights in this eclectic city. The Aya Sofya (Sancta Sophia) is one of the greatest domes in Christendom and was considered the architectural wonder of its time when built 536 AD. It is reminiscent of St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. Across the Hippodrome, the towering minarets and exquisite blue Iznik tiles that adorn it, make a visit to the Blue Mosque a must. Built for Sultan Ahmet in 1619, it is Istanbul’s most famous mosque. We encourage you to spend extra time in Istanbul to explore and appreciate its many wonders. Overnight hotel in the historic walking district of Sultanahmet.
Day 3 - Istanbul to Izmir to Ephesus
After a morning flight from Istanbul to Izmir, we travel to the marvelous ruins of Ephesus, the fabulously preserved Biblical city where St. Paul and St. John lived. It takes little imagination to understand the glory of the Roman Empire and to recreate the daily lives of the people who lived here more than 2,000 years ago. Ephesus is easily one of the best-preserved cities, more astounding than even the Acropolis in Athens. After lunch, we visit the rich collection of the Ephesus Museum. Hotel overnight near Ephesus.
Day 4 – Ephesus -GÖCEK
This morning we begin our drive to Gocek, a small harbor town. As we drive south, if time allows, we stop and visit Priene, a significant site because it remained entirely Greek, never changed by the Romans. By late afternoon we board our yacht and go to a nearby cove to dip into the Mediterranean. We enjoy our first of many feasts on board with tonight’s dinner.
Day 5 – Göcek – Binlik Cove
Spend the morning by cruising towards the Sunken Roman Bath Cove by exploring the coves of Göcek, snorkeling in the sunken Roman bath. After lunch we start our hike into the red pines towards Lydae, a remote Lycian site with no access by roads. Then, we continue hiking to meet our boat with spectacular views of Fethiye Bay.
Day 6 - Fethiye-Pinara-Kayakoy- Gemiler Island
We depart early from the yacht and drive to Pinara, perched atop the mountains in the most spectacular setting of any Lycian city in the Xanthus valley. According to Herodotus, the Lycians came to this remote coastal area in the 15th Century B.C.E., from the island of Crete. A massive wall of simple tombs has been carved into the cliffs, giving the look of a honeycomb. Several impressive temple tombs as well as the remains of a temple of Aphrodite add to the excitement of this magical ruin. From Pinara we drive to the old Greek city of Kayakoy that was deserted in the population exchange of 1923. It remains today as an eerie ghost town and graphic example of the injustice of war. After lunch in Kayakoy we take another hike and by day’s end rejoin our yacht anchored in a remote cove. We have time to enjoy a nice evening swim in our beautiful anchorage. Time permitting we hike to Gemiler Island for sunset.
Day 7 - Gemiler-Kalkan-Xanthos-Yayla-Kas
A very early morning (not to worry, you can keep sleeping as the boat motors east) sail past the “Seven Capes”, a lonely stretch of coastline with no anchorage or protection from storms. Fortunately, there are typically no storms at this time of year but nevertheless our captain will be anxious to travel early to avoid any winds. We travel about four hours to a lovely harbor just outside the village of Kalkan where you may enjoy a swim and take an optional hike to an impressive aqueduct of Roman origin. We are met by a minibus for another fabulous road trip to the interior. We visit the spectacular Lycian and Greek/Roman ruins of Xanthos. Xanthos, the ancient capitol of Lycia became famous in antiquity for its great resistance to General Harpagus who attacked in the 6th century B.C. Here is the famous Tomb of the Harpies whose reliefs were taken by the British in 1838. The rich and colorful history of Xanthos is brought to life by the numerous sculpted tombs found in the necropolis depicting scenes of the day. We'll enjoy a couple of hours at this extensive site. Then, we'll continue high into the mountains to visit a small village, called a yayla and enjoy a lunch in a village house. This is a trip highlight for many passengers. Afterwards, we drive about two hours east to Kas. (pronounced Kaash.) Kas is the quintessential Mediterranean fishing village. Children row small boats, practicing for the day when they too will become fishermen. Narrow streets wind among simple houses. Great restaurants, a Roman amphitheater and a tempting pastry shop are a few of the attractions of this colorful picturesque seaside town. Dinner on your own in town.
Day 8 - Kas-Aperlae-Kekova
At Aperlae, we snorkel in crystal waters over sunken ruins and walk among the fallen stones of this one time member of the Lycian League. Nearby, the remote area, called Kekova, is one of the most beautiful and interesting places along the entire southwest coast of Turkey. Here we find two small fishing villages, which were without electricity until 1985. The village of Kale is crowned with a crusader castle, which commands a spectacular view across the bay, and up to the mountains. Across the bay we visit Tersane, where you may snorkel over sunken city walls that were above water before the land tilted sometime in the past 2,000 years.
Day 9 - Exploring Kekova
After breakfast, there is an option to sea kayak along the sunken island of Kekova. (3-4 hours). More wonderful walking, swimming, sunning and exploring. Time to absorb the many wonders you've experienced. We overnight again in this delightful area.
Day 10 Depart yacht in the morning and travel from Üçağız Village about 2.5 hours to the airport in Dalaman
From here we take a return flight to Istanbul. There’s some free time to explore the city and in the evening we meet for our festive farewell dinner.
Day 11 - Return Home or Extend Your Trip in Istanbul Cappadocia
Today you may take a taxi to the airport (about $15) for flights out or continue on an extension to Cappadocia (see below).
Note: Our time in Istanbul is meant to show you the highlights of this fabulous city and "get your feet on the ground." We recommend you spend at least one more day there if possible and ROW can arrange any extra hotel nights or guide services you might desire.
Cappadocia Extension - If you only have time to visit one other region of Turkey, this is the one you should see. With a magical moonscape set beneath two ancient volcanoes, accented by cylindrical volcanic ash columns called "fairy chimneys" by the Turks, this area has a fascinating history. You'll visit underground towns carved over 1000 years ago, as well as monasteries and churches carved inside the ash columns and painted with frescoes dating to the 8th century.
Please Note: 4-day extensions are designed to run after our trips. Without exception, every one of our guests who have been to Cappadocia has said "it should not be missed!" Please make sure to ask for our Cappadocia extension itinerary for further details.
Dates & Rates
|Dates||Adult (USD)||Child (USD)|
|Sep 19, 2023 to Sep 29, 2023 |
Lowest Tier Price
6-8 People = $6250/person*
9-12 people = $5750/person*
*Prices based on double occupancy in hotels and on yacht.
Single Supplement Yacht: $975
Single Supplement Hotel: $375
Local Air: We will arrange and buy the domestic flights within Turkey from Istanbul to Izmir and from Dalaman to Istanbul. The cost is $170 (Subject to change) and will be billed with your trip invoice.
TRIP COST INCLUDES:
- Accommodations in hotels/shared yacht cabins
- All meals included except one dinner
- Expert leadership of a local Turkish guide.
- All entrance fees to historic sites and museums
- Sea kayaking excursion as described in Kekova
- A glass or two of wine or beer with dinner. You are welcome to bring your own liquor on board as well.
- Non-alcoholic beverages on board (water, juice, soda, etc.)
- Full yacht staff including captain, sailor, deckhand and cook
- Airport arrival transfers and departure transfers on Day 11 to/from Istanbul Ataturk Airport (airport code IST)
TRIP COST DOES NOT INCLUDE
- International airfare, internal flight
- Transfers for independent arrival or departure, or to/from any airport other than Istanbul Ataturk
- Airport departure taxes
- Additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors
- Travel Protection Plan (Travel Insurance)
- Pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), passports, visas, etc.
- Other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).
- Optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff
We found Turkey to be a fascinating country and this trip was the perfect way to experience it! The local guides ROW works with add so much interesting information and flavor to the trip. One day you are in Istanbul with its 15 million people learning ancient and modern history, then you find yourself nestled in a beautiful mountain top hotel for a relaxing evening and a few days later you are having lunch on a family farm in a town of 200. Traveling on a beautiful wooden yacht gives you an intimate and personal view of Turkey, its important sites and its people. We also highly recommend the Cappadocia extension, its unique geography, different cuisine and history were definitely worth the experience!
Fantastic trip. Everything was taken care of. No worries. The guides were both fun and extremely knowledgeable. Great pacing of activity and relaxation, and a really great value.
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