Explore the ancient Armenian city of Ani, walk among russian buildings in Kars, see mount Ararat, join us to visit relatives in the villages in Kars, see the magnificent Ishakpasa Castle, swim in the Van lake, visit the nearly 3000 years old castle in Van, visit the old Armenian church on Akdamar island and enjoy a breath-taking nature in the region of Turkey that has the lowest number of tourists, but so much to offer.
We pick you up from the airport or your hotel in Kars. First we drive directly to Ani, an ancient ghost city situated on the eastern border next to Arpacay river that forms the border with Armenia. Ani was known as “the city of thousand and one churches”. It used to be an very important city and was the capital of the medieval Armenian kingdom of the Bagradites and had around 100.000 inhabitants It was a city that controlled one branch of the silk road and it was always an important crossroad. The citys decline started in the 13th century with the Mongol invasion and a major earthquake. After this visit we continue to Lake Cildir, the secong biggest lake in north-east Turkey (1959 meter above sea level). In the summer you can have a refreshing bath and in the winter you can walk on the ice as the lake freezes. We have lunch by the lake before we drive back to Kars town center. Kars is
famous for its russian architecture. The town was a part of the Russian empire from 1877 to 1918 and they made a lot of buildings both for official use and for residental use. During the last years Kars has become a popular destination for Turkish holiday makers which has given a second life to these old buildings. Many of them has been restored and are used as hotels, restaurants and cafes. If you want a description of Kars read the famous book “Snow” by Orhan Pamuk. We spend some hours walking in the old center and up to the castle before we have some rest in the hotel. In the evening we visit a local restaurant to try some of the local food only found in Kars.
After breakfast you will have a couple of hours free time before we head towards Dogubeyazit. On the way we will visit a local village or small town. This will give you a chance to see the local life in this region. If it is not school holiday we will also visit a local school. After lunch we drive through the greenest town in the area – Igdir before we continue to Dogubeyazit. This is a border town famous for border trade (both legal and illegal). In this town you find the famous Ishakpasa Castle built during Ottoman times. The castle is situated in the mountain side with a view over the plains and to mount Ararat which is the highest mountain in Turkey (5137 m). We stay overnight in a cosy hotel in Dogubeyazit.
We continue towards Van throgh wild mountainous areas. We make a stop by the beautiful waterfall in Muradiye before we arrive to the lake and the city of Van which is the biggest city in this part of Turkey. Van is a city famous for its lake (the biggest in Turkey, it looks so big that the locals call it the sea), its cats (white cats with one blue and one brown eye), its breakfast and of course the historical places. On the way to the city we visit the university. Here they have got a “Cat House”. This is a project to protect the race of the Van cats. After this visit we have lunch before we check in to our hotel. After a short rest we drive to Van castle. This castle was built within the capital of the Urartu State, Tushba during the 9th century BC. The castle is on a hilltop next to the lake with a wonderful view. We make a tea break before we climb to the top to enjoy the sunset over the lake.
We start the day in the most famous breakfast restaurant in Van to try their famous breakfast. After breakfast we make a walk through the traditional parts of the city and we give you some free time to look around and maybe go shopping for the famous Van cheese. Then we drive along the lake until we get to the boat that will take us to another very famous place, The Akdamar Island. This place is breathtaking with its beautiful surrondings and the church represents one of the most sublime examples of Armenian church architecture. The island is full of almond trees and is really beautiful in the end of April with the flowers. If you come in the summer you will have a possibility for a swim in the lake. After this visit we have a nice meal before we drive you back to the airport.
Minimum 4 people maximum 12 (ca be arranged for less than 4 people – ask for price)
Price includes transportation, entrances, guiding, 3 star hotel with breakfast and insurance
Not included in the price : Lunches and dinners (price for a full meal with drinks varies from 5-10 euro), flights or other transportation to Kars and back from Van.
You can fly to Kars from Istanbul or Ankara or you can travel by train from Ankara using the eastern express train (a beautiful 24 hour train journey very popular in Turkey so you have to buy the tickets really early). From Van you can fly to many big Turkish cities (Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya, Izmir) or you can travel with train to Ankara or bus to any Turkish city.
NOTES: Bring swimming clothes, towel, sun protection, good walking shoes and also some warm clothes even in the summer as the altitude is very high and it may get quite cold in the nights. PS! This trip can only be arranged from the end of April to the beginning of October as there is a risk of closed roads in the winter season. In some places it may be difficult to find toilets with a European standard (all the hotels have it) so be prepared that you may have to use the whole in the ground toilets as well and keep napkins with you while traveling. The areas we travel through are a bit more conservative than the coastal areas so we advise women to wear pants or long skirts (no need to cover your head or anything like that). The areas we travel in are mainly Kurdish areas. There have been periods of conflicts in these areas so we reserve the right to cancel the trips or part of the trips if necessary for security reasons.
PPS! This trip can be combined with our trip to northern Iran. It is possible to take the bus to Tabriz
and be joined by our local guide from there.