Over-touristed sites are now the new norm throughout the world.
For example, this year in record numbers, tourists are queuing up at the Blue Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Istanbul.
“Travel is an investment in time and money. Istanbul has cultural and historical treasures that extend beyond the Blue Mosque. So why waste hours just to get inside a building you have been told you must see?” asks Kurt Kutay, CEO and President of Wildland Adventures.
Instead, guides with deep knowledge of Istanbul and Turkey will share the Blue Mosque story with fine-tuned timing that skirts crowds and by introducing historical/cultural takeaways at less selfie-prone places.
“This resurgence of interest to visit Turkey is keeping us on our toes,” Kutay says. “We have to be aware, well in advance, where the maddening crowds will gather next. Then we plan contingencies that will connect the same cultural dots that the hot spots do – but perhaps even more effectively without the distractions that come with crowds.” Turkey has 100,000 registered historic spots. If a must-see UNESCO World Heritage Site is over-run by crowds, Kutay’s team will choose the best hours to visit or designate a comparable place to fulfill a similar interest and expectation.
Wildland Adventures to Turkey embrace the culture people flock here to experience. “We bring our guests as close as possible to real worlds, freed of artifice, must-sees and must-dos,” Kutay explains. Among the takeaways that Wildland Adventures guests enjoy are:
- Extant Greek and Roman ruins, more numerous here than in Greece and Italy combined.
- One of the world’s prized cuisines. “We make sure to feature a different dish every day. Dining in Turkey is simultaneously a history lesson served up on a plate,” Kutay exudes, paraphrasing Poet Abdulhak Sinasi who wrote: "Do not dismiss the dish saying that it is just, simply food. The blessed thing is an entire civilization in itself."
- Visits to less-known alternative sites that are comparable to the crowded hotspots to imbibe history, culture and traditions. “Instead of waiting in lines, our guests talk with local people including merchants, artists and religious leaders.” Most tours focus exclusively on historic sites around Sultanahmet Square, which is less than half a mile in diameter and a stone’s throw from the cruise ship dock. But Constantinople (so named until 1930) is surrounded by 14 miles of walls; the heart of the ancient city is four miles east to west. Wildland Adventures extends tours into old, traditional neighborhoods and to Bosphorus villages for a full understanding of old and contemporary Istanbul.
- Experiences that move beyond monuments and historic buildings. Guests visit markets, eat street food, visit artist workshops, neighborhood coffee shops, wine bars and panoramic rooftop bars to take it all in on a grand scale.
- Cruising the Turquoise Coast of the Mediterranean in traditional hand-built Gulets (classic Phoenician-style, wooden yachts). Guests explore along footpaths only accessible from the sea, paths that lead to pastoral grazing lands chalk full of Crusader, Byzantine Greek and Roman archaeological sites. “It’s all about timing as well by avoiding busy coastal towns and beaches where tourists flock by day,” underscores Kutay. “We anchor in quiet coves and wait until tourists disappear for the day. We then serve wine and appetizers in ancient ruins where, sitting in the sunset, we take turns reciting poetry or singing a song in the Odeon (a stone structure specific to the ancient arts).”
The tours Wildland Adventures offers in Turkey are
- Turquoise Coast Odyssey - a 13-day itinerary from $4,965 per person double. Accommodations include a restored Ottoman home in the heart of a mountain village, a boutique cave hotel and Istanbul inns with rooftop restaurants. Highlights are Istanbul, Cappadocia, Kas, an Anatolian village, Ephesus and a voyage along the Turquoise Coast in a traditional gulet yacht.
- Highlights of Turkey - a 9-day exploration from $3,695 per person double. This itinerary embraces Turkey’s three most important cultural and political centers: Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus on foot along ancient pathways and by boat. Guests enjoy well-appointed friendly hotels, a boutique cave accommodation and a renovated historic hotel in the Aegean highlands.
Departure dates are available upon request. Kutay notes that even though there’s more pressure on prices because of renewed demand by tourists, the Turkish Lira has fallen against the stronger dollar.
“Our trip prices remain the same as they were three years ago,” he notes.
For more information on these itineraries and all of Wildland Adventures’ worldwide offerings, availability and reservations, call 1-800-345-4453 or email [email protected] Visit http://www.wildland.com/. Kutay has also recently published 6 Ways to Travel Responsibly in an Age of Overtourism.
About Wildland Adventures
Kurt Kutay, Founding CEO/President, and Anne Kutay, Vice-President, established Wildland Adventures in 1987. As active managing directors, they are continuously refining and evolving their Wild Style of travel. The ‘Wild Style’ is based on an ethic of sincerity, compassion and understanding that breaks down barriers of separation to build lasting intercultural, interpersonal, and environmental bonds designed to enhance rather than exploit the people and places where they travel.