Emerald Hills and the East

Day 1 Trabzon
We will fly in the morning to Trabzon-1 hr. 30 min- and drive to Sumela Monastery to visit this magnificent structure which is dedicated to Virgin Mary. It looks like it is perched on Mt.Karadag just like an eagle's nest.

Day 2 Trabzon
We will visit St. Sophia Church of Trabzon and walk in the old city’s narrow alleys stopping at Fatih Mosque-former church of Golden Headed Virgin and the lively vegetable markets.

Day 3 Ayder
This morning we drive along the Black Sea coast to Rize and then follow the Firtina river valley to Ayder situated in the emerald Pontic forests. More than a century old wooden houses decorating the steep hills is very picturesque. Following a light hike above Ayder we will have time to enjoy the local spa.
There is chance to meet and interact with  the two local ethnic groups; Laz and Hemsin.

Day 4 Kars via Artvin
A scenic drive offering great diversity from the North East Coast to the Pontic Chain above Artvin and reaching Kars that has an eastern character. It will be gradual change from the green to the earth colors.

Day 5 Ani
We begin the day early and drive to Ani on the border with Armenia. Here you'll see the rich heritage of the Armenian, Selcuklu monuments from 11-13th Centuries. Ani was the capitol of one of the medieval Armenian kingdoms.
The town of Kars has very characteristic grid plan streets and Russian style civil architecture apart from the castle and the church of 12 apostles. 

Day 6 Dogubeyazid and Mt Ararat.
We drive to Dogubeyazit and visit one of the wonders of Eastern Anatolia, Ishak Pasa Palace from 1784. Built as a palace and a castle right on the silk road. A must see place!
You'll be able to see Mt.Ararat the highest peak in Turkey with a height of 16,853 feet (the site where the legendary Noah's Ark came to rest.)

Day 7 Van
As we drive southward, the dramatic topography becomes more striking added by the sheer beauty of volcanic peaks, steep river valleys, waterfalls, and small villages with earth roof houses.
This all reaches its zenith as we reach the shore of Lake Van, largest in Turkey, 1,443 sq.miles
We drive thorough passes watching the snow capped mountains, flocks of sheep, and earth colored houses scatters along the narrow valleys before reaching Van.

Day 8-Van
We will begin the day with to Hosap and Cavustepe to see the remains of an 8th Century B.C. Fortified Palace of Urartians who were one of the strongest military powers of the iron age.
Van Castle is located on the lake shore and offers stunning view at sunset.
Van was the capital of the Urartu Kingdom which goes back to 9th century B.C. This area has also the heritage of the 2nd millennium B.C Hurrians, who were the cousins of the Hittites.

Day 9 Van
Ahdamar is a very interesting Armenian Church built in 915 on a small island in lake Van. What a setting! The church is decorated with frescoes inside and unique relief outside and stands in a small forest of almond trees. It has been recently restored and re-opened as a museum. We will be getting to the island by boat from Gevas.

Day 10 Fly to Istanbul 



What to Bring

Imperial Ottoman
Caves and Castles
Turquoise Blue Waters
Gods Saints and Dervishes
Black Sea; Forsaken Paths
Emerald Hills and the East
Ararat and Nemrud
Magic Light


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