This fascinating mini-trip will take you to the beautiful winter landscapes of Eastern Turkey, combined with the highlights of the area's history, the simple rural and hard city life of the east and the most fascinating section of Turkey's longest and most popular train journey – the Doğu Express – through unforgettable winter wonderland and, as cherry on the cake, a day in the city of Erzurum, which is seen as one large open-air museum.
Van (2) - Iğdır (1) - Kars (2) - Doğu Express (Pullman seats) - Erzurum (1)
Due to the popularity of the train and the large price differences of flights just before departure, you will have to book and pay at least 6 weeks before departure. Bookings made within 6 weeks of departure are not guaranteed.
Maximum 24persons per group.
Be quick because FULL = FULL.
January 19, 2023 to January 25, 2023
(last booking date December 15 2022)
February 23 to March 01, 2023
(last booking date January 15. 2023)
Price 599.- Euro p.p. in a double room
Single supplement: 95.- Euro
When booking without domestic flights, 75 euros will be deducted (only booking over WhatsApp +90 541 151 79 38)
Booking fee: 30.- Euro per reservation
The return flight is over Istanbul (if you wish, you can extend your holiday for a few days in Istanbul privately or have the choice to fly further to Antalya. If you stay in Istanbul, you’ll have to book your own flight back to the destination you wish, please contact over WhatsApp when you want to extend in Istanbul +90 541 151 79 38)
The full travel sum to be paid at booking
No visits to carpets, leather and jewellery centers
DAY 1: VAN - AKDAMAR - VAN (89 km)
Antalya Airport Meeting Point at the counter: Flight Sun Express Antalya Van
Your English speaking guide and the luxury mini or midibus will be waiting for you on arrival.
You will first enjoy the extensive and well-known Van breakfast (extra) in a restaurant directly on Lake Van.
After breakfast we drive to Gevaş for a wonderful boat trip of about half an hour on the large Van Lake to the island of Akdamar.
Akdamar or Ahtamar is the second largest island in Lake Van. The island has an area of 0.7 km² and is located about 3 kilometers from the southern coastline.
The island was once a residence of Armenian kings and an important spiritual center of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The church building was built under King Gagik Artzruni between 915 and 921, who chose Aghdamar Island as one of his residences. The only building that dates from that period is the cathedral. Later, until 1915, the cathedral was part of a monastic complex, the remains of which can still be seen south of the church.
Between 1116 and 1895, the island was the seat of the Armenian Catholicos of Aghdamar. The last Catholicos of Aghdamar died in 1895.
After the island of Akdamar you will visit the magisterial Van fortress or Tuşpa fortress, the oldest part of which dates from the 9th century BC. stems.
Van used to be part of the kingdom of Urartu or the kingdom of Ararat. The capital was Tuspa (Tushpa), the old ruins of Tushpa with the Van castle can be visited. The specialty of the Urarteans was goldsmiths, their forging of gold, silver and bronze was exported.
Van Kalesi, the castle of Van is an Urartese citadel (fortification). The rock is almost two kilometers long and one hundred meters high. There are foundations of an Urartese temple, tombs of Urartese kings and the remains of an Ottoman castle.
Also visit the interesting archaeological museum of Van with the largest collection of Urartian artworks in the world.
Overnight stay in Van
DAY 2: VAN - BAŞKALE - HOŞAP - VAN (258 km)
After breakfast you will leave for the Iranian border and visit the Armenian Barthelomeus Monastery. The Monastery of Saint Bartholomew was a medieval Armenian monastery in the historic province of Vaspurakan, 23 km northeast of the city of Başkale, in today's Turkish province of Van, near the Iranian border. The monastery was built on the traditional site of the martyrdom of Bartholomew the Apostle, who is said to have brought Christianity to Armenia in the first century. Along with Thaddeus the Apostle, Bartholomew is considered the patron saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church. It was a prominent pilgrimage site prior to the Armenian Genocide. Today it is badly ruined and the dome has completely disappeared. After that, you will continue to the still undiscovered Cappadocia of the east known as Vanadokya. Fairy chimneys called Vanadokya by the locals are located in Yavuzlar village in Başkale district. The rocks erupted by the volcanic Yiğit mountain in the village of Yavuzlar bear a resemblance to Cappadocia. An extra dimension is given by the snow that covers the landscape and the characteristic rural village that gives a clear picture of how hard life is in that area. On the way back you will visit the best-preserved Kurdish castle that towers over the landscape and the village of Gürpinar like an eagle's nest. The castle dates from 1640. The story goes that the local ruler Süleyman Mahmudi who had the castle built was so pleased with the result that he had the architect's hands cut off to prevent him from building such a beautiful castle again. There are more than 80 castles in this area. The story does not say whether the architects of those castles also had their hands chopped off. Crow's nest in the canyon walls.
Overnight stay in Van
DAY 3: VAN - MURADIYE - DOĞUBEYAZİT - IĞDIR (219 km)
After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, you will leave Van and the first visit will be to the cat villa for the Van cats. The University of Van conducts research and has a breeding program to keep the cat breed pure and to check the health and character of the cats. These often have 2 different colored eyes and love to swim. Then on to the (semi) frozen waterfall Muradiye. In winter an icicle castle where you can take beautiful pictures.
We follow the Armenian border with views over the biblical Ararat mountain - the highest mountain in Turkey - and visit the stately Kurdish Ishak Paşa palace. Ishak Pasha Palace on the Silk Road near the Iranian border, is located on a high and expansive platform of strategic importance on an area of 7600 square meters. It is not in the Ottoman tradition at all, but rather is a mixture of Anatolian, Iranian and Northern Mesopotamian architectural tradition.
Overnight in Iğdır.
DAY 4: IĞDIR - TUZLUCA - ANİ - ÇILDIR LAKE - KARS (248 km)
After you have left the hotel, the first visit will be the fascinating salt caves of Tuzluca. A beauty of a cave where special light effects are sparkling on the salt crystals and is a health center for asthma patients. Then further to one of the highlights of this tour. Visit to the Armenian ruined capital city of Ani, the city of 1001 churches located on the Armenian border and listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Here we'll have an extensive walk along cathedrals, churches, a mosque and the citywalls. In the afternoon we'll leave to Çıldır Lake. The photogenic Çıldır Lake with opportunities to take a short horse-drawn sleigh ride across the frozen lake, see fishermen catching fish from beneath the ice surface, dancing on the ice and free time to capture unforgettable pictures on and around the lake.
Overnight stay in Kars
DAY 5: KARS - SARIKAMIŞ - KARS (115 km)
After breakfast at the hotel you will visit the Caucasian War Museum. A war against the Russians where tens of thousands of soldiers died, not from fighting, but from the extreme cold. The soldiers were not dressed for these extreme temperatures and were equipped with summer uniforms. Then on to Sarıkamış ski resort with a visit to the hero monument, an outside view of Tsarin Katharina's hunting lodge, the ski resort and the Sarıkamış spruce forest. Then on to Kars for a city tour with views over the castle of Kars, the Church of the 12 Apostles now the contemporary Fethiye mosque, the stone bridge and panoramas of the Russian stone houses such as the town hall, the health care directorate, the tax office and the house by the poet Namık Kemal.
Overnight in Kars.
Optional: traditional evening with traditional food, folklore dance.
DAY 6 MORNING: DOĞU EXPRESS TRAIN JOURNEY (238 km)
After early breakfast, transfer to the train station for the unforgettable train journey with the panoramic doğu express to Erzurum. Your tour guide will take you to the reserved pullman seat. You do a 5-hour journey through an unforgettable winter landscape and is the most beautiful part of the Doğu Express journey. You will be amazed by the variety of landscapes.
DAY 6 AFTERNOON: ERZURUM
After lunch you will take an unforgettable city walk through the historic part of Erzurum. This will lead you to the old quarter with historic houses, the Çifte minareli medresse, the Ulu mosque, the Yakutiye medresse, the castle of Erzurum and the 3 kumbets.
Overnight stay in Erzurum
DAY 7: ERZURUM - FLIGHT TO ANTALYA
After breakfast freetime until departure to the airport
Transfer to Erzurum airport for the late morning flight from Erzurum via Istanbul to Antalya.
“ETD-TRAVEL” wishes you a safe journey back and we like to welcome you again on one of our exclusive journeys.
INCLUSIVE – EXCLUSIVE – GOOD TO KNOW – CANCELLATION
- Morning flight Antalya – Van
- Late morning flight Erzurum – Istanbul – Antalya
- Pullman seat DOĞU EXPRESS train journey
- 6 nights 3+*/4* hotels with breakfast
- Boat trip Akdamar island
- Horse slay ride over Çıldır lake
- Luxury mini or midibus
- English Speaking Licensed Guide
- Occupants insurance
- Entrance tickets (müze kart)
- 1x breakfast
- Lunches and diners
- All drinks
- Personal expences
- Kafkas evening (optional)
- tip for guide and driver
- Travel and cancellation insurance
GOOD TO KNOW:
Minimum pocket money per person per day: 30.- €
Your passport or ID must be valid for at least 6 months when departing from Turkey
EU and UK citizens do not need a visa for Turkey
Make sure you have good travel and cancellation insurance with your insurance agent
Provide sturdy and waterproof walking shoes, winter clothing, thermal underwear, gloves and hat
In case of participation of less than 8 participants, «ETD-TRAVEL» has the right to cancel the tour 4 weeks before departure, with a full refund of the trip.
In case of cancellation from the participant(s) side up to 4 weeks before departure, 30% of the travel sum will be deducted and 70% will be refunded to the participant(s)
In case of cancellation from the participant(s) side up to 2 weeks before departure, 50% of the travel sum will be retained and 50% will be refunded to the participant(s)
In case of cancellation from the participant(s) side up to 1 week before departure, the full travel sum will be deducted.