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Turkey: The Turquoise Coast

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 12 - 13 day(s)
Group Size: 1 - 8 people
Destination(s): Turkey  
Specialty Categories: Bicycle Touring   Cultural Journey  
Season: January - December
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 2480 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2980 US Dollar (USD)

We'll cycle through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world: the transparent blue waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean coastline, idyllic beach coves and lagoons, sparse countryside, olive tree groves, green high-mountain forests, picturesque port towns where yachts of the world congregate for the majestic "Blue Voyage", and through remote whitewashed villages with our bikes offering dramatic sights seldom seen up close by other travelers. We'll also see the many ruins of the great civilizations that have built their stone cities here. The "Turquoise Coast" is abundant with the magnificent legacies of Greek and Roman cultures: towering Greek columns, Roman amphitheaters and entire city ruins are among the most numerous and well preserved in the world.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Afternoon arrival in Izmir. After visa processing and customs, meet guide and transfer to small, rural village near Ephesus. Introductions and orientation over a delicious local lunch of mezes. Time permitting, a short drive or ride down the hill to Selcuk for a Turkish Bath, an incredibly soothing experience if you've never enjoyed one before, and to exchange money. Back in the village, orientation and dinner. We will overnight at a modest nearby village not normally frequented by tourists. Accommodations at an artful pension.

Day 2: Ephesus to Priene (22 miles). Ephesus was the premier Ionian trading center, eventually emerging as a Roman capitol, and is now one of the world's greatest archeological sites. The ruins here are amazingly well preserved with entire streets of marble etched by carts and footsteps nearly two thousand years ago. The large theater and Temple of Artemis remain much as they did in their 4th century grandeur and the Celsus Library is a famous structure you will undoubtedly recognize. After our tour of Ephesus we will lunch and then cycle to Priene, our stopover for the night.

Day 3: Priene to Milas (55 miles). On the side country road to Pinarcik we will stop to wander three major sites: Priene with its classic Ionian architecture and stunning hillside view of some of Turkey's most beautiful countryside; Miletus, which houses the finest remaining example of an ancient Roman theater; and Didyma, home of the impressive and well-preserved Temple of Apollo. Ride around the scenic rock formations to our accommodation at modest Turkish pension in a small fishing village on Bafa Lake. Fish dinner with local dishes after this long day of biking.

Day 4: Milas to Bodrum (51 miles). Cycling scenic back roads to Milas and then out towards the coast to Bodrum, with a side stop at the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Euromos to see the Temple of Zeus. A small agricultural town, Milas was at one time the capital of the Caria Kingdom, its ancient walls and gates still standing. With a picturesque port, crusader castle and sailing center, Bodrum is base for many international yachts beginning the "Blue Voyage". It is also a major party destination for Europeans. After a fresh seafood dinner, sightseeing along the busy promenade.

Day 5: A day off the bike, sailing and swimming on the warm, blue waters of the Turquoise Coast or free time to explore the town and castle ruins on your own. We'll sail from Bodrum's port, a gathering point of yachts from around the world, onto scenic Gokova Bay and periodically stopping to dive into the warm water for swimming. Afternoon free to stroll the busy boardwalk, cafes, sweet shops and the ruins of a waterfront crusader castle. For those with boundless energy, the boardwalk shops, cafes and discos stay open late into the night.

Day 6: Bodrum to Marmaris (63 miles). After breakfast, we take the morning ferry from Bodrum to the tip of the Datca Peninsula. The spectacular scenery of this ride is the some of the finest in Turkey, enhanced by a newly paved road with little traffic. Rolling hills twist and wind around spectacular views of the ocean on both sides, and through the surrounding pine forests. Our destination, Marmaris - we'll explore during the evening after our seafood dinner overlooking the bay.

Day 7: Marmaris to Dalyan (48 miles). Morning transfer outside Marmaris' busy roads to a quiet country road to begin our cycling. On our way, stopping at a Turkish tea house and natural hot spring waters. After afternoon arrival, free to relax or visit the ancient city Kaunos with the unique rock thumbs from the Lycian period. Dinner at the river with a view over the lighted rock tombs. Most of our route is devoid of towns, broken up by small villages and occasional ruins and mosques. Nearby mud baths and hot springs are also close by which we will enjoy if time permits.

Day 8: Dalyan to Fethiye (38 miles). Short day riding towards the coast with one long climb, and beautiful pine forest mountain riding, skirting the large lagoon near Fethiye. Our hotel has a scenic view of the lake. After arrival, shower, change and drive to the eerie ghost town Kayakoy, abandoned by Greeks in the 1920s following the Greco-Turkish War and which to this day remains uninhabited.

Day 9: Fethiye to Kas (56 miles). If you can make it up very early, we have an optional para-sailing adventure for you which begins on the high mountain range near town. Today, a long, mostly flat ride with one long climb, we'll bike past the ruins of several ancient cities, including Tlos, Pinara, and Xanthos. The last twenty miles are spectacular cycling along the Lycian coast on the winding road and out of white-cliff bays overlooking the ocean. Kas is a small, beautiful harbor town nestled into a cove beneath the large, coastal mountain range, one of Turkey's most picturesque settings.

Day 10: After breakfast, boat trip from Kas over the incredible sunken cities visible through the aqua blue waters around Kekova Island. Swimming over the ruins and lunch onboard. Stop at Kale, a small, picturesque fishing village beneath ruins of a medieval castle and covered with Lycian tombs offering stunning views of the bays and islands. Afternoon and evening free to explore this intimate seaport or rest up for tomorrow's long day on the bike.

Day 11: Kas to Olympus (62 miles). Our winding route affords great views of the Mediterranean's turquoise waters and coves. The long climb out of Kas offers panoramic views of the coast as we head back into the hills, regrouping for an outdoor lunch in a beautiful high mountain valley. A long descent brings us back to the coast and past Kale, where the legend of St. Nicholas was born. After another long climb, we eventually descend into the magical setting of Olympus, located in a deep gorge on the banks of a small river on the coast. Our hotel is set beneath the mountain peaks.

Day 12: Olympus to Antalya/Istanbul (35 miles). Morning riding through the thickly forested, rocky Beydaglari Mountains to Phaselis, a remarkably pristine Roman port. After an optional dip in the bay beneath the ruins, we will make a short drive to Antalya, one of the most beautiful cities on the Mediterranean coast. Antalya an important port in ancient and modern times. Although now a large, modern city, Antalya preserves much of its medieval old town. Afternoon free to explore Antalya's sites.

Day 13: Istanbul

Enough pedaling, it's time to explore one of the most fascinating cities in the world. On this day, a comprehensive exploration of the largest city in Europe, highlighting the majestic historical sites scenically overlooking the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara, including the holiest of holies — Aya Sofia, the stunning Byzantine basilica built in the 4th century by the Emperor Justinian.

We'll also explore the exquisitely tiled Blue Mosque, built in 1616 and renowned for its 22,000 blue Iznik tiles, and the grand Topkapi Palace — the Imperial residence of the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to the 19th century, and home to the Sultans and their harems. It is the oldest and largest of the remaining palaces in the world, well known for its lavish gold, silver and jewel collections, its jeweled throne room and its 400 room harem pavilion. Throughout are exquisite Iznik tiles. Built on one of the seven hills of Istanbul, this huge complex has panoramic views of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.

We'll end our tour at the Grand Bazaar, the largest Oriental shopping center in the world with 65 streets, 18 gates and 3,000 shops all under one roof. Following our return to the hotel for a quick rest and a change, we will have our farewell dinner just after the evening call to prayer at one of Istanbul's finer restaurants.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Price Includes:
- Emergency medical and air evacuation coverage which operates clinics in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia
- All equipment, including imported kayaks and newer model Raleigh USA, Trek and Specialized hybrid bikes.

Price Excludes:
- International airlines
- Required visas
- A few dinners on your own.