Many of our African Safari Tours involve flying Turkish Airlines. All of these Turkish Airlines tickets allow a stopover in Istanbul for no extra cost. So here we give you the information you need to plan your ultimate Turkey Stopover Tour:
Tailormade Istanbul Stop Over Tours
Amazing Turkey. Turkey is one of the most spectacular countries in the world to visit. It is packed with history, nature, birds, gorgeous beaches, high mountains, stunning landscape and even scuba diving. It is also quite easy to travel around, and there are a multitude of travel agencies in Turkey who can handle everything from a group tour, to a single traveller who wants a guide for a day in a small town.
But the best place to start your tailor made Turkey stopover is Istanbul. If you only have three days, then Istanbul is the best place to be. Hotels such as the Side Pension, the Celal Prime Class and the Empress Zoe offer differing levels of service, but all are very clean and welcoming.
Then there are the must visit locations of Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, the Grand Bazaar, The Misir Carsi (Egyptian Bazaar), the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya (Saint Sophia) Church will fill every moment of your days.
The problem with Turkey. As we said above, Turkey is so large you don’t know where to start. Worse still, the people who should guide you and there are so many of those Turkish travel agencies regard tourists as fair game. We firmly believe that “the guide is your side.” He or she will fight your corner, help your bargain, and find you the best possible deal or activity that suits your budget. You and your guide must have a symjbiotic relationship, where you both exist because of each other. The guide saves you time and money and you reward a good guide with a generous tip. (which should be a fraction of what he or she saved you). Not so in Turkey, where the guides expect commission on every activity you conduct ranging from 40% commission on carpet sales to a fist full of liras from a friendly restaurant. This is on top of the 40% commission that the travel agent adds to every hotel and bus you take. It was impossible to work in this environment, so we left Turkey firmly out off the tour agenda.
Trusted Turkey. All of this changed, when we started selling flights to Africa and Asia on Turkish Airlines. With first class service, the excellent new airport in Istanbul, and flights to more African countries than any other airline, we started receiving requests for Turkey stop overs. At first we managed to get round this by writing a mini Guide to Istanbul. This allowed travellers to book their own holiday in Turkey. But our clients were persistent. Being of Turkish origin, Raf was expected to know everytyhing and be able to arrange everything. And so very reluctantly, we contacted some trusted people in select areas, and cut out the agents and the guides and entered the Turkish Tourism market on our own terms.
Self guided Turkey. The first job was to find people we trusted. And where we could send clients. A pattern emerged. Istanbul-Cappadoccia-Ankara-Bodrum-Kars emerged. We made contact with Ruth Lockwood, the legendary New Zealander who has lived for 30 years in Cappadoccia running a series of successful hotels and the most honest carpet shop in Turkey. (Tribal Collections). Conveniently she also owns the tiny Ela Cave hotel, situated in Ortahisar, our favourite village in Cappadoccia. We now arrange most hotels in Istanbul, but the Side, Empress Zoe and Celal Prime class are our favourites. In Kars we like the hotel Gungoren and others. In Bodrum, we use Elif Gunduz, our city guide, and Erman of Ermandive. We stitch together the itineraries with Turkish Airlines flights, Pegasus Airlines flights, affordable transfers, train and bus tickets.
Approximate tours costs: A seven night tour in Turkey including 4 nights in Istanbul (3*)0, flights to Kayseri, transfers to Cappadocia and three nights in Uchisar (cave hotel) (with tours that do NOT take you to a carpet shop) will cost around £750.00 There is no single supplement. Add a few more days on the coast with Erman and the Gunduz family and you are looking at £300 more. If you go out to Kars and come back by train (seeing the famous ruins of Ani and Seytan Kale) you can bank on adding £200.
The whole of Turkey. We have travelled the length and breadth of Turkey and do so every year. We do not however pretend to sell tours to the entire nation. We specialise in 7-21 day stopovers. If you have enough time to see the whole of Turkey, you are better off travelling the entire nation on your own, stopping off at the most unique places. We can help you with that, with our advice service. Which will save you thousands of dollars, and the stress of bad guides.
Find out more about Turkey, Get in touch E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: + 44 1291 570 953
Turkey is a great place to learn about Turkish and Persian carpets. From kilims to cicims, to Hereke to Bukhara, there is no better place to buy. But don’t get taken for a ride, talk to Ruth Lockwood of Tribal Collections in Goreme. She is the only person we buy our carpets from.