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The Great Anatolian Ride follows, as closely as possible, the early stages of the final journey of the adventurous seventeenth-century Ottoman Turkish traveller Evliya Celebi. After a lifetime spent wandering the world – from Vienna to Sudan, from the steppes of Muscovy to the deserts of north Africa – Evliya set out from Istanbul in 1671 to make the pilgrimage to Mecca that is required of all Muslims. He never returned to the city of his birth, but spent his last years in Egypt, composing and recomposing the 10-volume travelogue – the Book of Travels – that is the account of his far flung travels.
In 2014 the ride is running in reverse, starting from Kutahya and finishing at Validekopru, where you leave the horses and return to Istanbul.
Each day of the ride is wonderful in its own way. The landscape is gorgeous and varied and there are many wonderful villages, historic sites and important towns along the way. Ultimately however it is the very kind and hospitable people that you will meet and interact with each day that make this ride so special.
This trail will suit an independent traveller looking for adventure - the route can be subject to change and flexibility is paramount. You are not always escorted on transfers and so would need to feel comfortable about this.
See also the Cappadocia Trails.
The horses are a mixture of pure Arabians, Arabians-Anatolian and
Akhal-Teke crosses. The
terrain is varied and you should be a
confident rider in control of your horse at walk, trot and canter. Some of the horses are very lively and strong in canter although on this long trail ride there are few opportunities for fast gallops.
Day 1 - Istanbul
Arrive in Istanbul. and take a taxi to the hotel in Istanbul. Meet the rest of the group and have ride briefing over dinner.
Day 2 – Istanbul to Kutahya
After breakfast transfer to the historic city of Kutahya, ancestral home of Evliya Celebi – this is a 5 hour train journey. After lunch you may visit some of Kutahya’s many monuments as well as the Roman runs high above the city. You can walk around the old quarter where many craftsmen and artisans still ply their trade. Overnight in a hotel in Kutahya.
Day 3 – Kutahya
After breakfast, visit the newly built Rahwan – pacer hippodrome. Here you will gain an insight into one of the most popular equestrian sports in Turkey. You will have the opportunity to meet some of the local rahvancis (pacing racers) who stable their horses here. In the late afternoon, visit the nearby Balikli hamami (Turkish bath) built by an Ottoman Grand Vezir in the 16th Century. Overnight in a hotel in Kutahya.
Day 4 – Senlikkoy to Elmali
After breakfast, transfer by minibus to the campsite near the village of Senlik where you will meet your horses. Ride across the plain heading towards the mountains and onto Elmali. You ride along forest roads, staying low along the valley bottom following a river. Facing a cliff, you zig-zag up a goat track that will lead to the picturesque hamlet of Elmali, with its wooden houses that are characteristic of the traditional architecture of the area. Here you will spend your first night under the stars (3 hours riding).
Day 5 – Elmali to Domur
From Elmali you ride towards Findicak where the route opens out offering panoramic views on all sides. From here you ride Seydikuzu across country and along forest roads until reaching Muratli where you stop for a picnic lunch. After lunch ride through the grassy uplands towards the town of Cukurca, with its nearby tomb for the saint Selim Baba. Continue riding across the grasslands scattered with juniper and pines to reach your campsite above the village of Domur (6.5 hours of riding).
Day 6 – Domur to Bahcekaya
Leaving the grasslands of Domur, ride into a landscape that flattens out into smallholdings and will follow a well-preserved, stone paved Ottoman road – one of the few that still survive. After a kebab lunch at a small restaurant, continue on to Bahcekaya. Along the way there are dramatic extensive views in every direction. Ride up through the summer pastures and mixed forest into the hills and the Georgian-speaking village of Bahcekaya (6.5 hours riding).
Day 7 – Bahcekaya to Ortakoy
Leave Bahcekaya riding through oak forest and descending from the hills, passing the village of Hacikara and following a river. Lunch will be a picnic on the river bank. After lunch pass the village of Hamamli and ride along leafy lanes until reaching the village of Ortakoy and viewing the restored 15th century caravanserai of Karaca Ahmet (6.5 hours riding).
Day 8 – Ortakoy to Babasultan
Ride from Ortakoy, passing through Yenicekoy and Edebey, taking lunch along the way, near the town of Cerrah. Visit the tomb and shrine of a 13th century saint and ride along country tracks lined with walnut and other fruiting trees. Traverse a rugged hillside and descend towards a reservoir below the village of Babasultan. Camp in an orchard by the stream. (4 hours riding).
Day 9 – Bursa
After breakfast, transfer to Bursa for a day of sight-seeing. Bursa was once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and for centuries the centre of the silk trade. Visit the mausoleums of the Sultans, stroll through the historic bazaars, visit the Ulujami (mosque), possibly visit the Bursa City Museum and lunch at the famous Iskender Restaurant. Overnight in hotel.
After breakfast, transfer back to the campsite in your riding gear. Ride through uplands via Cavuskoy and Sungurpasa, where you stop for lunch. Camp for the night near the village of Boazkoy (6 hours riding).
Day 11 – Boazkoy to Mecidiyekoy
Today you ride across the richly agricultural Yenisir plain. After passing through the town of yenesir, have lunch in a shady place overlooking the cultivated fields. Heading out of the valley make your way past fields of sunflowers and head up an old paved track and into the hills towards the lovely village of Mecidiyekoy where you camp (6 hours riding).
Day 12 – Mecidiyekoy to Iznik
From Mecidiyekoy ride to a summit for a lovely panorama of Iznik lake. Descend the mountain and leave the horses near the walled town of Iznik, famous in Ottoman times for its ceramics. There is time for a stroll in the town and to wander the many shops that continue the ceramics tradition. Among the sites you may visit in Iznik are the 7th century Byzantine basilica of Hagia Sophia, now a mosque, and the famous 14th century Green Mosque. Overnight in a family-run hotel on the shore of the lake (4 hours riding).
Day 13 – Iznik to Mahmudiye
Morning at leisure in Iznik. After lunch meet with the horses again and ride to Mahmudiye via Orhaniye, passing the Roman obelisk at Dikilitas along the way. The landscape is now of olive groves. Stop for tea at a local café and picnic for lunch before continuing towards Mahmudiye, passing magnificent pomegranate, walnut, quince, apple and plum trees. Your camp is above the village of Mahmudiye, close to a ridge with extensive views towards the lake (5.5 hours of riding).
Day 14 – Mahmudiye to Validekopru
Leave Mahmudiye and soon afterwards take an undulating track through woodland and between orchards. Ride to the formerly silk-producing village of Kizderbent in its steep sided valley where you have lunch. Crossing the picturesque bridge built by an Ottoman queen-mother you ride to Validekopru and say goodbye to your horses. Farewell dinner and camp near to Validekopru. (5 hours riding)
Day 15 – Validekopru to Istanbul
Transfer to Istanbul for departure.
The Great Anatolian Ride has four nights in comfortable hotels and ten nights camping. All camping equipment is provided with the exception of a sleeping bag which you should bring yourself. The camp support crew, including cook, travel ahead by vehicle to await the arrival of the riders. All luggage is also transported by vehicle so during the day you only need to carry a few items such as camera and sunscreen that you need during the day.
The camping is comfortable but not luxurious. Thick foam pads are provided in the tents. Normally we use large two room tents with a central area for luggage and changing. Each person will have a separate sleeping area, either one half of these large tents or their own smaller tent.
There is a fully equipped kitchen as well as tables and chairs for dining. There is also a hot shower and toilet trailer which has a flush loo and basin etc.
||4-6 Riders in Group
||7-10 Riders in Group
|Great Anatolian Ride (14 nights)||$3,576||$3,224||$165|
In The Saddle Gallery
Turkey has a typical continental climate with dry hot summers and cold winters. Rainfall is sparse and the region is largely semi-arid. April to June and September to October are the best times of year to visit.
On the higher ground the temperatures can drop in the evenings. The average temperature during the summer months is 23C (73F).
|Weather is unavailable at this time.|