Global Adventure - Trek the Carian Way on Turkey's Southwest Coast


Global Adventure - Trek the Carian Way on Turkey's Southwest Coast

Tour Istanbul's old city, mosques, palaces, ancient Christian churches, Byzantine monuments, and historic ethnic neighborhoods. Sample fabulous Turkish cuisine above the Golden Horn. Then fly to Izmir and join our expert local guide to visit the ruins of Ephesus, Aphrodisias and Selçuk before moving southeast to trek with a knowledgable local guide along 57 miles of the newly established Carian Way trail that connects ancient byways of the Carian civilization. We’ll walk past the ruins of Herakleia in Latmos and visit Byzantine wall paintings near Lake Bafa, before heading further south to wander the coastal hills and beaches of the Bozburun and Datca peninsulas. The region has its own unique architecture, untouched coves, hills full of olive and almond trees, and ruins of centuries-old cities, some of which are only accessible on foot. Stay in small village homes and hotels, eat simple but delicious homemade meals, and carry only a daypack. MEMBER FEE SHOWN IS FOR THE FINAL PAYMENT! See Leader Notes for full pricing details.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Moderate/Strenuous
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 57.5 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 14,580 ft
  • Pace: 2 mph

Arrive no later than Sunday April 3, 2022 in Istanbul, and transfer to our hotel in the historic Sultanahmet district of the city.  After three days of touring in Istanbul (arrival day plus two more), we’ll transfer back to the airport for a short domestic flight to Izmir, where we’ll be met by our private van and guide who will shuttle us and our luggage for the next 12 days.  End this adventure on Saturday April 16, 2022 and transfer to Dalaman for flights home  via Istanbul on April 17 (do not schedule a flight before 11:30AM!)!  OR.... continue on to the start of the Lycian Way trekking adventure!

We encourage participants to arrive early in Istanbul for the endless opportunities to explore, eat and breathe in the incredible culture and history of this ancient city.  We will help you get rooms at the same hotel for the extra nights, at your expense.

Itinerary Highlights:   

Tour Istanbul for two full days (plus your arrival day).  On our first day a guide will take us through the many-layered 'old city' with its many Roman and Greek artifacts, huge and lovely mosques, old Byzantine churches, wooden Ottoman houses, elaborate palaces and exotic markets.   Then on our second day you you’re on your own to choose where to explore next:  tour colorful old Greek and Jewish neighborhoods, take a food tour,  cruise the ancient sea route along the Bosporus to the Black Sea, or wander the Grand Bazaar.   Each night we’ll sample the city’s amazing cuisine at a different spot with views of the minarets, rooftops and the Golden Horn with the bustle of this cosmopolitan city all around us.

Then we’ll fly south an hour to Izmir, meet our expert Turkish guide and driver, and spend 3 days touring some of the exceptional historic sites along the Aegean coast, including the 6th-century St John Basilica, the 14th-century Isa Bey Mosque, and the Temple of Artemis which was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, all near the town of Selçuk; the extraordinarily well preserved and majestic Greek ruins of Ephesus; and beautifully preserved but seldom visited Aphrodisias  with its Tetrapylon, Temple of Aphrodite and it’s large stadium - the largest ancient stadium in the world and one of the best preserved - all dappled with wildflowers.

Finally, we’ll sample some of the best sections of the Carian Way, the newest of several historic long trails established across Turkey along the byways of its oldest civilizations.   The Carians were an indigenous race with a long history dating back to 3rd or 4th millenium BC.   Through the Greek and Roman periods the Carians preserved their own identity, and were particularly renowned for their seafaring skill.  At its peak, Carian territory extended from what is now Lake Bafa and the ancient cities of Heracleia, Alinda and Alaband in the north, to Lake Köycegiz east of Marmaris, overlapping into Lycia

Our 57-mile, 8-day exploration of Caria will begin with Byzantine churches with wall paintings on an island in Lake Bafa, and the ruins of Herakleia and the Stylos Monastery in the Latmos Mountain range, with prehistoric cave paintings nearby.  Then we’ll transfer through the hill country and onto the Bozborun peninsula between the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.  For three days we’ll walk its very rugged trails over high hills, along the cliffs and down to the rocky coasts around the peninsula, between traditional villages, Carian ruins and stunning viewpoints across the sea to the Greek islands of Symi and Rhodes.   Then to cap off our exploration of the Carian Way we’ll transfer east to the Datça peninsula.  The ancient Greeks believed Datça to have been created personally by Zeus, so gorgeous are its rocky outcrops and aquamarine waters. The geographer Strabo apparently said: “God sent his beloved creatures to Datça for them to live longer.”  We’ll hike for three days past pine-crested hills, endless olive groves, blue coves, vast sweeping bays, deserted beaches and sleepy villages with goats on the road and old men arguing over tea in roadside cafes.  Remnants of the Carians and the cultures of Lydia, Persia, and the Byzantine and Ottoman empires spot the landscape: church ruins, ancient cisterns, tombstones and ruined olive oil facilities.  We’ll finish with its most precious jewel: the ancient Greek ruins of Knidos and its lighthouse at the confluence of the Mediterranean and the Aegean.

Every night along our trek we’ll stay in simple lodgings and eat the wonderful food that this country and the Mediterranean are known for.  Our luggage will be shuttled from place to place so all we need to carry is a daypack.  We will have a dedicated van to move us between the best spots and to offer an option for someone to rest if they’re injured or exhausted.

Time of Year:   We’ll be visiting during the spring when the weather hasn’t yet gotten hot and the wildflowers are prolific across the hillsides.  Days should be warm and nights cool, and if conditions permit we’ll take a swim in the sea!

Lodging:   In Istanbul we will stay in a lovely hotel near the historic sites in the Sultanahmet district but also convenient walking distance to the Grand Bazaar and the Golden Horn.  In Sirince we will stay in a simple three-star hotel near a square where storks roost in the old aqueduct.  Every night along our Carian Way trek we’ll stay in village homes and charming small hotels, mostly with private bath but occasionally with a shared bathroom outside or down the hall.

Food:   In Istanbul, an excellent breakfast will be served at our hotel each day, lunch will be on our own in town, and we’ll have dinner at a different restaurant every night to try the range of local cuisines!  In Sirince and along the Carian Way we’ll eat at our lodging and enjoy simple meals of delicious local ingredients prepared in traditional dishes – in my three visits to Turkey I haven’t sampled a bad one yet!  Vegetarian diets can easily be accommodated but other special diets may be more challenging.

Leader’s Experience:    Cheryl Talbert has led many Mountaineers hikes and several Mountaineers and private backpacks, treks and cultural trips around the U.S. west and worldwide, including a group trip to Istanbul, the Aegean, along the Lycian Way and to Cappadocia in 2015.

Strenuousness or Difficulty rating:   This itinerary is rated strenuous, less because of sheer distance and gain and more because of the very rugged and rocky trails that are common across the southwest coast of Turkey.   

 Limit:   Maximum of 12, minimum of ten, including the leader.

Participant Requirements:   Must be a current Mountaineers member with an up-to-date waiver on file. This outing includes hiking for 3-9 hours a day on rugged terrain for multiple successive days.  For this reasons, participants need to be in good cardiovascular condition with good balance and sound joints.  Recent experience with multi-day strenuous backpacking, scrambling or hiking, plus a positive attitude and a demonstrated ability to get along well with groups under demanding conditions, will be very important.   NOTE:  Your leader makes most of the arrangements and provides logistics support during the trip, but is NOT a tour guide!  As a Mountaineers group we will operate as interdependent, capable travelers making our way together and helping one another succeed and be safe. 

Trip Price Detail:   $2400 including all lodging, transportation, guide and most meals.  The Mountaineers are prepared to absorb up to 10% exchange rate fluctuation but if exchange rates change in an unfavorable direction by more than 10% the Mountaineers reserve the right to pass the incremental expense of foreign exchange on to participants.  Your airfare (~$1500), travel insurance ($75-350), tips (~$100-150 per person) and a few meals in town (<$100) are not included.  .

Registration Instructions:   If you were not on the 2020 or 21 roster, please submit the application form which will automatically be sent to the leader.   After the leader’s approval, go to the trip listing and click the REGISTER button to pay the 50% deposit and hold your space on the roster. Registration will close on September 1, 2021 or whenever the roster fills. A place on the roster can only be held with payment of the deposit.   The final payment due date will be announced by the leader as the outfitter’s payment schedule is finalized.


Supplemental Information

Cancellation Policy:  UPDATED:  If you cancel before March 1, there will be a minimum cancellation penalty (passed on from our outfitter) of 78 euros plus $19 per person per segment (at the euro-USD exchange rate on the day.  Final payment of $1200 plus any incremental hotel and tour expenses for Istanbul will be due by March 1 , and if you cancel after that date then  approx $1100 plus nonrefundable hotel costs will be deducted from your refund (final amount dependent on your specific hotel plans).   The cancellation penalties may be waived if someone takes your place on the adventure, but the agreed refund would only be paid after the new person is fully registered and has paid the full amount.  If they don't also take your hotel nights then those may not be refundable.


Trek the Carian Way on Turkey's Southwest Coast

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

After receiving your deposit, the leader will send out a series of letters and emails providing information to help participants succeed on the trip, including recommended and required gear, recommended maps and guidebooks.


Trip Reports