Arrive in Istanbul and take a taxi to the hotel.
A full day of sight-seeingand shopping in this city thatwas once the capital of the civilized world. This was where Evliya Çelebiwas born and the city fromwhich he set out formost of his forty years of travel. Visit the Blue Mosque, St.Sophia, Topkapı Palace and the famed covered bazaar.Return
to hotelfor overnight.
Transfer byminibus or train fromIstanbul toKütahya.Check into the hotel and after a late lunch, walk around the historic city of Kütahya, ancestral home of EvliyaÇelebi on his father’s side, and the place wheremany of his kinsmen are buried.That eveningwe will enjoy a welcome dinner with
traditional Turkish music. Overnight in hotel.
After breakfast, wemay investigate, amongKütahya’s manymonuments, the nearbyBalıklı hamam, built by anOttoman Grand Vezirin the16th century. It is the Turkish bathwhere Evliya himself was scrubbed clean! Afterlunch we willvisit the newly-built hippodrome in the suburbs where we will gain insight into one of themost popular equestrian sports in Turkey when wemeet some of the local rahvancıs/pacing race enthusiasts who stable their horses here. Overnight in hotel.
Isaköy to Elmalı
After breakfast we will transfer byminibus to Isaköy where we willmeet the horses. From Isaköy we ride across arable land and chalky uplands to Senlik. Fromhere we cross open countrywhile beginning to ascend into pine forest. We will have a picnic lunch at a forest clearing. Fromthe forest
we will eventually descend to a rivervalley and ride along it. We will then have a steep climb up a goat-track, and having gained themountaintop,ride along the cliffsmake our camp in the picturesque hamlet of Elmalı,with its wooden houses that are characteristic of the traditional
architecture of this area. (5 hours riding)
Elmalı to Domur
FromElmalı we go to the neighboring village of Fındıcak, along a route that offers panoramic views on all sides. We continue toSeydiküzü on forest roads, and then toMuratlı, having a picnic en route. Fromhere we cross grassy uplands to the town of Çukurca,with its nearby tomb of the saint and
musician SelimBaba. Here in the Domaniçmountains, home of brigands according toEvliya,we 2 encounter spectacularviews and climb up through yaylas, upland summer pastures, to reach our campsite high above the village of Domur. (6.5 hours riding)
Domur to Bahçekaya
We leave our campsite above Domur to ride across grasslands scattered with juniper and pines,
before enteringareas of cultivation where the landscape flattens out in smallholdings. Fromhere
we follow a well-preserved, stone-paved Ottoman road—one of the few that still survive. As we go
we enjoy dramatic, extensive views in every direction, and descend to a pass where we will have a
lunch. We then ascend oncemore ever upwards through oak and pine forest, still within the hills of
the Domaniç range, to reach the village of Bahçekaya. (6.5hours riding)
Bahçekaya to Cerrah
Leaving Bahçekaya,we descend throughmixed forest, passingmountain villages. We come eventually to a river and our picnic lunch stop on its banks.. Afterlunch we ride alongand in the river, overhung by willows, and admire the birdlife.We emerge into a country of orchards and farmtracks
on the slopes of Mount Uludag, ancient Mount Olympus. In Ortaköywe see the restored15th century caravansary of Karaca Ahmet.We will continue to a wooded riverbank near the small town of Cerrah,where we will camp. (6.5hours riding)
Cerrah to Babasultan
FromCerrahwe ascend the lower slopes of Mount Uludag, and continue throughEdebey and Yeniceköy tomore remote villages higher up themountain. Here we will have lunch. We pass the tomb and shrine of a13th-century saint, and proceed along tracks lined with walnut and fruit
trees. We will camp near the village of Babasultan. Herewemay enjoy a traditional Turkish meal prepared by the villagers as well as some traditional Turkish music.(4 hours riding)
A day of sight-seeing inBursa, once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and for centuries the center of the silk trade.We willvisit themausoleums of the Sultans, stroll through the historic bazaars,visit the Ulujami (mosque), possibly visit the Bursa CityMuseumand lunch at the famous
Iskender Restaurant.Overnight in hotel.
Babasultan to Karasil Çeltikçi
Leaving Babasultan we pass other settlements nestling in the hills, and ride through rolling uplands viaÇavasköy and Sungurpasa, where we stop forlunch.We then descend to the richly fertile Yenisehir plain.We camp in an arable field near a green dellwith a fresh flowing stream, near the
village of Karasil Çeltikçi. (6 hours riding)
Karasil Çeltikçi to Mecidiyeköy
Leavingour campsite, we ride across the plain through the rich cereal-growing area of Yolören and beyond. We ride through the old city of Yenisehir and have lunch in the outskirts of town.Fromthere we continue across the fertile plain through fields sporting over twenty different kinds of peppers
and other crops. We begin to ascend through fields and woods into the hill country, coming upon the deserted village of Çelebi, with its solitaryminaret andmarble fountain. Fromthere we continue to climb through shepherding country to Mecidiyeköy, a charming remote village. (5.5hours riding)
Mecidiyeköy to Iznik
Leaving Mecidiyeköywe ride through fields of sunflowers. We then ascend throughmixed forest to amountain summitwhere we catch ourfirst panorama of Iznik Lake. Picnicking at some point along the way,we ride down fromthe summit to the village ofDirazali,where we will have tea.We then ride for an hour to the walled town of Iznik, ancient Nicaea, a very atmospheric place offering stunning views of the lake of Iznik. We will leave the horses camped for the night and transfer to a small hotel on the shores of the lake. In Iznik we willvisit the famous Green Mosque, the ancient citywalls and the Tilemuseum.(4 hours riding)
Iznik to Mahmudiye
We ride out of Iznik, passing by the Roman obelisk at Dikilita shrouded amongst the orchards where pomegranate,walnut, quince, apple and plumtrees abound, to continue to Orhaniye and then Mahmudiye. After a tea stop at a local café, and a picnic lunch, we continue passing through
orchards,vineyards, and olive groves before ascending into forest. We will camp outside the village of Mahmudiye . (5.5hours riding)
We set out fromMahmuiye to Valideköprü, with its Ottoman bridge.Here we encounter the Yalak River(the Dracon of antiquity), where we startle flocks of egrets and heron, andmeet young shepherds herding their cattle along the riverbank. We camp on the shores of the river and enjoy our
last night under the stars.(5 hours riding)
After breakfast transferfromthe campsite to Istanbul. Overnight in hotel.