Turkey has long been the crossroads between Europe, Asia and the Middle East, with history laced in magnificence. Ephesus is one of the true treasures of the world and to witness this incredible city is indeed a sight to behold. It’s amazing how resilient the structures have stood the test of time. In addition to the beauty that exists from the hands of man, there are also important migration corridors and stopover sites that excite and attract birders from around the world. To view a wetland covered in waterfowl or to observe your very first Dalmatian Pelican is a memory to cherish for life.
Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
Coastal Turkey has hot steamy summers and moderate winters, while Central Anatolia can have extremes of cold and heat during these times. Mid June through August can be quite hot, and after November, it can get very cold in Cappadocia. Ideal times to travel to Turkey are April/May and September/October, but no matter what time you visit, Turkey is delightful. Istanbul can be visited at any time of the year if you’re prepared for some rain and steamy conditions.
Board your overnight flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival you will be met and escorted to your hotel. GERMIR PALAS HOTEL. (Meals Aloft)
Fly to Kayseri, and then drive to Cappadocia and the Dilek Kaya Hotel with its unique architecture. Enjoy an optional balloon (at additional cost) to see the sunrise over the magnificent terrain, next morning. Afterwards, visit the rock-carved churches in the Goreme and Zelve Valleys, where chapels and monasteries were hollowed into rocks as hiding places. Preserved through the centuries, the original frescoes celebrate the beliefs of the early Christians. The traditional village of Uchisar is surrounded by rock pinnacles and at the underground city of Derinkuyu, thousands of men sheltered themselves from enemy attacks in this land of “Fairy Chimneys”. DILEK KAYA HOTEL. (B,L,D Daily)
Polish up your binoculars as you drive to the Sultan Sazligi Nature Reserve, an important wetland — there are a number of species that are residents and thus breed locally. Those include Greater Flamingo, European Crane and Pygmy Cormorant. There are 85 species that habitually nest in this region and over 300 species found here. Following lunch, visit the Soganli Valley, noted for the Christian Settlement that was established here using a combination of natural rock formation and human made structure. DILEK KAYA HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Fly to Bodrum, ancient Halicarnassus, birthplace of Herodotus, and visit the Castle of St. Peter, dating back to the 15th century at the time of the Crusades. Today, this castle houses the Museum of Nautical Archeology. Also visit the ruins of the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. BODRUM KARIA PRINCESS. (B,D)
Depart for Lake Bafa, known for its amazing variety of birds. There are numerous breeding species but of note are the endangered Dalmatian Pelican, Mediterranean Gull and Collared Pratincole. In the afternoon, explore the Meander Delta, a lagoon where spoonbills and oystercatchers can be observed. Enjoy lunch at a local farm located near the ancient city of Miletus, the oldest and most powerful Ionian city in Asia Minor, and head to Kusadasi in the afternoon. DOUBLETREE BY HILTON. (B,L,D)
Visit Ephesus, the most complete city to ever be excavated. There are so many wonderful sites within Ephesus, including the Temple of Artemis, yet another one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and the Library of Celsus. Then, drive to the Dilek National Park to look for Peregrine and Elenora’s Falcons. It’s also possible to observe endangered Mediterranean monk seals as they bask on remote beaches. Hunted to near extinction, today there are fewer than 500 individuals left. DOUBLETREE BY HILTON. (B,L)
Start your day at the recently opened Izmir Wildlife Park, exhibiting animals from around the world living in natural looking habitats. Continue to the Sasali Bird Sanctuary, located on the Gediz Delta, recognized as a RAMSAR site with over 400 bird species being recorded here. Of special interest are the breeding populations of Dalmatian Pelican, Greater Flamingos and Egyptian Vultures. ERDEK KIRTAY HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Spend the day in Kocacay River Delta and Manyas Lake. These bird rich habitats provide viewing of specialty birds like Stone Curlews who roost in open areas during the day and feed at night. Black Stork may also be observed and during migration, large numbers of waterfowl, including Ferruginous Duck can be found. ERDEK KIRTAY HOTEL. (B,L)
Visit Lake Uluabat; although quite extensive, the lake is shallow and thus provides nutrients for plants and invertebrates that in turn feed large number of birds that stop during migration. Pygmy Cormorant and spoonbills find nesting suitable in this area and Whiskered Terns may be found in large numbers. Enjoy a picnic lunch and then continue to Bursa. Next day, look for higher elevation birds at Uludag National Park (elevation 6,562 feet,) such as Pallid and Alpine Swifts, Krueper’s Nuthatch, and the beautiful Alpine Chough. Another “target” bird is the Lammergyeier, who feed on bone marrow, which they find by scavenging from dead animals, flying quite high with the bone and dropping it onto rocks below to break it. Enjoy a picnic lunch before heading to the silk bazaar and Grand Mosque to experience an authentic Turkish bath. ANATOLIA HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Visit Sapanca Lake en route to Istanbul, located on a tectonic hole. Arrive Istanbul and your charming hotel in vivid Taksim Square, GERMIR PALAS HOTEL. Enjoy a farewell dinner tonight. Your birding adventure has come to an end next day as you transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B,D, Meals Aloft)
Continue your adventure with a cruise on the Bosphorus, the winding strait that separates Europe from Asia. Enjoy the view of wooden villas, marble palaces and ancient fortresses along the shore. Arrive on the European side and visit the legendary Topkapi Palace. Then drive along the coast of the Golden Horn overlooking the walls and churches of the Byzantine period. Visit the Hippodrome, scene of ancient chariot races and the center of Byzantine life. Marvel at the Blue Mosque and Haghia Sophia, once the religious center during the Byzantine era, and visit the Asiatic side of Istanbul, including Beylerbeyi Palace and the Camlica Hill.
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