Whirling dervishes, Turkey

The dervishes perform a traditional whirling dance that dates from the time of the beloved 13th century Sufi poet Rumi. Our Discover Turkey Private Journey reveals an array of cultural and natural wonders from Ephesus to Cappadocia.

Photo by Dennis Cox

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Discover Turkey Private Journey route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $5795  
Length: 11 days
Arrive: Istanbul, Turkey
Depart: Istanbul, Turkey
Lodging: 3 nights in 4-star hotels, 2 nights boutique cave hotel in Cappadocia, 5 nights small country hotels
Meals: All meals included except 5 dinners
Activity: Walking, Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Overland travel with easy to moderate city walks and cultural exploration in Istanbul and small villages, with hikes in Cappadocia and ancient sites


  • An insider’s introduction with a top-notch private guide throughout the journey
  • Hilltop villages, majestic Roman ruins of Ephesus, Aphrodisias, and Bodrum
  • Cappadocia, with its other-wordly landscape and traditional villages

Another great trip from Wilderness!Peg A.—Cupertino, CA

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

This Private Journey brings you an insider’s view of the rich culture and ancient heritage of Turkey, with visits to dazzling Istanbul and to the surreal fairytale landscape of Cappadocia in the interior heartland. Heading along the Aegean Coast, explore glorious Ephesus, the best preserved Roman city in the Mediterranean, and lovely off-the-beaten-path sites such as exquisite Priene, with its Temple of Athena, and the remote sanctuary of Zeus at Labranda. Incorporated into your Private Journey are walks on ancient trails through beautiful countryside of olive orchards, delightful picnic lunches, visits to serene rural villages where you can sip tea in cafes under age-old plane trees, and opportunities to mingle with the locals in farmers markets and artisan workshops.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2
Exotic Istanbul

Explore the great monuments of this renowned city on a walking tour. Istanbul is home to the thousand-year-old Haghia Sophia, once the greatest church in Christendom, and the Blue Mosque, with its blue-themed interior, replete with panels of floral-motif tiles (20,000 of them) and graceful arabesque stenciling. Visit Topkapi Palace, where the sultans’ wives, concubines, and eunuchs lived inside the “forbidden” harem quarters. Enjoy a guided walk through the Covered Bazaar to the Spice Market, and board a sunset ferry to sail up the Bosphorus Strait, one of the most famous stretches of water in the world. Criss-cross between Europe and Asia as you savor views of the Dolmabahce Palace, Rumeli Hisar Castle, and traditional waterfront homes from the Ottoman period.

Day 3
Magnificent Ephesus

Declared capital of Roman Asia by Emperor Augustus, the archeological complex of Ephesus is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world. Here you'll walk down Marble Street, where the ruts of chariot wheels can still be seen etched in the pavement, and visit the striking Library of Celsus, with its elegant two-story facade.

Days 4-5
Treasures of the Aegean Coast, Bodrum

In the lush valley of the Meander River Delta, visit Priene on the slopes of Mt. Mycale. Often compared to Delphi for its natural setting, Priene is also known for its extensive Temple of Athena, built at the order of Alexander the Great and still in a remarkable state of preservation. On the flanks of Mt. Latmos, explore the beautiful 2nd century Temple of Zeus, hidden in the endless grove of olives. Then head to Bodrum, where whitewashed, bougainvillea-clad houses surround natural harbors lined with yachts. Enjoy the flavor of the southern Aegean as you walk narrow streets lined with artisan shops and visit the Castle of St. Peter, with its Museum of Underwater Archaeology, and the remains of the Mausoleum of Mausulus.

Days 6-7
Lake Bafa / Ancient Villages / Aphrodisias / Sacred Springs

At Lake Bafa, visit the unspoiled village of Kapikiri, hike to Neolithic caves with fascinating pictographs, and visit the Carian site of Labranda, with its fascinating sanctuary of Zeus perched in a lovely setting overlooking the plains.Taking a little traveled route inland, visit beautiful country villages with tree-shaded central squares and explore mountain-ringed Aphrodisias, a fantastic World Heritage Site in an isolated setting. The stadium at this ancient city can still seat 30,000 spectators. At Pamukkale, a remarkable natural wonder, walk along lime-white cliffs terraced with travertine pools, and visit the sacred spring at ancient Hieropolis, with its submerged marble pillars dating to the Roman era.

Days 8-11
Cappadocia’s Moonscape

Spread across the heart of Turkey is the volcanic moonscape of Cappadocia, with its mushroom-shaped rock formations into which the local people have carved homes. Christianity arrived here in the 1st century AD, as evidenced by the ornate frescoed churches hewn deep into the soft tufa rock. Enjoy a hike from the pretty village of Ortahisar to the unspoiled hamlet of Cavusin through vineyards and apricot orchards, visit the ancient underground city of Kaymakli, 13 levels deep, where thousands of Byzantine-era villagers sought refuge from invaders, and enjoy panoramas of the towering stalagmites that give this landscape a surreal quality. Enjoy a whirling dervish performance at an original 12th century Seljuk caravanserai. Depart on Day 11 via Istanbul.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:

What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated Level 2+. This is a relaxed cultural adventure, with several walks or hikes of 2-4 hours that should be “easy-to-moderate” for the average active traveler. The cultural walks and hikes are a fascinating part of the trip, often bringing us to small villages or off-the-beaten-path ruins accessible only on foot. All hikes are optional. To ensure an enjoyable adventure in Turkey, all participants should make a special effort to be in good physical condition by engaging in a regular exercise regimen before the trip.

Explanation of Trip Levels


When to go

January to December

For our Private Journey trips, you choose your own group and your preferred dates—there are no set departure dates. Private Journeys are available to groups as few as two people or as large as you like. Contact us for availability, questions, or to book your adventure!

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$5795 (4 members)
$6595 (3 members)
$7995 per person, double occupancy
Single supplement: $725
Internal airfare: $515 (subject to change)
Call for discounted rates for groups of five or more.

Prices are not guaranteed until services are confirmed.
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Inside Istanbul Extension
   from: $1195

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $600
90 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $250 per person
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Accommodations in hotels as noted
  • All meals included except 5 dinners
  • Services of expert local guides
  • Ground transportation in air-conditioned vehicle
  • Entrances to museums and sites as noted
  • Airport transfers as noted
  • Whirling dervish performance, ferry ride on the Bosphorus, thermal pools in Pamukkale

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, beverages at restaurants or hotels, any activities described as optional, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to staff, additional hotel nights made necessary by airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses such as medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Arrival & Departure Information

Our Private Journeys can be tailored to your group so arrival and departure cities and dates may vary. Below are suggested airports to reference during your booking process. Please note: you are responsible for your own transportation to and from the arrival and departure cities of your Private Journey. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2016 Departures

Meeting Place:
Istanbul, Turkey
Date: Day 1

Suggested Airport for Arrival:
Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey (airport code IST)
Istanbul, Turkey
Date: Day 11

Suggested Airport for Departure:
Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey (airport code IST)

Hotel Levni

Hotel Levni

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights),
Day 10 (1 night), Istanbul, Turkey

This hotel’s location could not be better—it’s within close walking distance to all the major sights (you can see the outer walls ...
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Charisma Hotel

Charisma Hotel

Day 3 (1 night), Kusadasi, Turkey

The Charisma is set right on the beach, with ocean-swimming access from a private dock as well as a huge swimming pool and open-air restaurant ...
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Antik Tiyatro Hotel

Antik Tiyatro Hotel

Days 4 to 5 (2 nights), Bodrum, Turkey

The 20 guest rooms of this hotel are arranged around a swimming pool and bar that offer views of Bodrum castle and the clear waters of the Aegean ...
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Agora Pansiyon Hotel

Agora Pansiyon Hotel

Day 6 (1 night), Kapikiri, Turkey

This charming, 14-room family-run pension is located in a small working village. Guest rooms are basic and a bit on the small side but clean and ...
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Lycus River Hotel

Lycus River Hotel

Day 7 (1 night), Pamukkale, Turkey

This 275-room hotel has an excellent location close to the historical sites around Pamukkale. The hotel features indoor and outdoor thermal pools, a ...
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Sultan Cave Suites

Sultan Cave Suites

Days 8 to 9 (2 nights), Goreme, Turkey

Set on stone terraces high above the village of Goreme, the Sultan Cave Suites offers breathtaking sunrise and sunset views of Cappadocia’s ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions option:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extension:


Inside Istanbul Extension

Explore the Fabled Capital of Byzantium

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1