Climb to the Summit of Mount Ararat in Turkey with MTS Senior Mountain Guide Sergio Fitch Watkins
Join MTS' long-time favorite hiking guide, Sergio Fitch Watkins, on this challenging 'Follow the Leader' trek to the summit of Mount Ararat in Turkey!
Located near Turkey's border with Armenia, Mount Ararat (16, 854') is, as the Bible says, where Noah's Ark came to rest. After exploring the highlights of Istanbul and Cappadocia, we'll fly east to the medieval town of Erzurum, located at 5,766-feet, and home of the Çifte Minareli Medrese (the "Twin Minaret" madrasa.) From here, we'll continue on to Dogubeyazit, where our Mount Ararat adventure begins! We'll have enough time to acclimatize on this 5-day hike to the summit, sleeping in tented camps along the way. Our belongings will follow us on horseback as we go. Making a pre-dawn start from our highest camp at 13,600-feet, we'll begin our ascent up the snowy slopes leading to the glaciated summit of Mount Ararat, where breathtaking views of Turkey reward our effort.
Although no technical mountaineering experience is required for the ascent of Mount Ararat, participants do need to be familiar with the basic use of crampons. Mount Ararat is a strenuous mountain, and windy and cold weather conditions can make the experience even more challenging. However, the mountain is popular with hikers, and has a summit success rate of nearly 95%. If you are in good cardiovascular condition, and are a strong and experienced hiker, you will have excellent chances of standing on the summit of the highest peak in Turkey.
5 Days of strenuous hiking on snow with the occasional use of crampons, 4 days of walking and cultural touring, 4 nights tented camping, and 9 nights hotels.
- Explore the highlights of Istanbul, including the Hagia Sofia and famous Blue Mosque!
- Walk in Cappadocia, and see the ''Dark Church'' with its best preserved frescoes!
- Stand on top of Mount Ararat – the highest peak in Turkey!
Duration: 14 days Start Location: Istanbul, Turkey End Location: Istanbul, TurkeyDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : JULY 18 – Arrival in Istanbul, Turkey
Upon arrival at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport you will be met by an MTS representative who will escort you to your hotel in the Old City. After getting settled in the hotel, we’ll meet for an orientation at 6:30 p.m., then head out for a welcome dinner in a traditional restaurant.
Day 2 : JULY 19 – Istanbul - Highlights of the Old Town
Today we'll discover the ancient monuments of Istanbul. We'll start with a tour of the Topkapi Palace, residence of the Ottoman Sultans for about 400 years, with its fabulous collections of jewels and other artifacts. We will also visit the ''Harem'' section, which is another palace located inside the Topkapi, where we will listen to the history of the white and black Eunuchs and the high education of Concubines. After lunch, we will continue our tour with a visit to Hagia Sophia, originally built as a church by Constantine The Great in the 4th Century and used as a mosque during the Ottoman era until 1935 (Today it is a museum encompassing both Christianity and Islam.) We'll also visit the Blue Mosque, famous for its beautiful blue tiles decorating the interior walls. The Blue Mosque was built in the 1609 C E, and both it and Hagia Sophia were considered masterpieces of their period. Last on our itinerary is the Basilica Cistern, the best known and the largest of the closed cisterns built under the Justinian basilica in the 6th century. ''From Russia with love'' James Bond movie was filmed here in late 1960's. Later, we'll discover the highlights of the ancient hippodrome – The Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine Column, and others. Later, we'll discover one of the great restaurants of Istanbul.
Day 3 : JULY 20 – Fly to Cappadocia – Afternoon of Exploration
We’ll take a 1-hour morning flight to Kayseri on Turkish Air departing at 09:45 a.m. and arrives at 11:05 a.m. Then we will transfer to the Cappadocia area, a 45-minute drive through beautiful and interesting valleys. Cappadocia is surely one of the most beautiful and unusual spots in the world, with a moon-like landscape boasting a variety of weird but interesting natural formations, including pyramid-shaped rocks and sensuously carved fertile valleys that are volcanic in origin. After we check in to our hotel, we'll explore this lava covered ancient landscape. We'll walk up to Uchisar Castle to see the complete surrounding valleys of the area. We'll then drive to the famous Greek village, Sinasos for lunch in an old 18th century Greek home run by the people who were born in the same house. After lunch, we'll stop at some of the famous panoramic viewpoints overlooking the valley. Later on, we'll have the option to walk in one of the famous valleys in the area before returning to our hotel. Dinner tonight is at a lovely restaurant nearby or at our hotel.
Day 4 : JULY 21 – The Highlights of Cappadocia
We'll start our day by visiting the very important open air museum, Goreme St. Basil's valley, including the best survived ''Dark Church'' with its well preserved frescoes. We will also tour the other important churches of this area, and one of the 36 underground cities where Christians sought refuge from invading Arab Armies in the 8th century. These underground cities are over 10 stories deep, and are a fascinating and important aspect of the history of Cappadocia.
Day 5 : JULY 22 – Fly to Erzurum via Istanbul
After breakfast, we'll transfer back to the Kayseri airport and fly to Erzurum via Istanbul. Our flight departs Kayseri at 11:50 a.m., and arrives in to Istanbul at 1:20 p.m. Our connecting flight to Erzurum flight departs at 4:20 p.m., and arrives in to Erzurum at 6:15 p.m. Upon arrival in Erzurum, we'll transfer to our hotel, and then have a little time to check in before meeting up in the evening for a stroll through the bazars, and dinner.
Day 6 : JULY 23 – Highlights of Erzurum
Today we'll visit the 14th century Yakutiye Madrasa. The Yakutiye Madrasah was built by Cemalettin Hoca Yakut in 1310 , and was transformed into an Archeology Museum in 1994 with the opening of the Turkish-Islamic Works and Ethnography Museum. It is a well preserved example of Seljuk Architecture in the region. After lunch, we'll visit the Çifte Minaret Madrasa dating back to 13th century, dedicated by Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad to his daughter Hudavend. The Çifte Minaret Madrasa has a colorful history not only as a theological school, but also as a gun foundry in the seventeenth century and as an arsenal and armory in the nineteenth century. More recently it has been used as a museum, which it continues to host today. It is the largest madrasa in Anatolia. Time permitting, we'll explore the citadel that overlooks the city, and one of the earliest Seljuk mosques, the 12th century Ulu Camii.
Day 7 : JULY 24 – Transfer to Dogubeyazit
After breakfast, we will drive to Dogubeyazit (3.5 – 4 hours). Upon arrival, we'll transfer to our hotel. The remainder of the day is free to rest.
Day 8 : JULY 25 – Begin our Climb – To Camp 1 at 10,500'
After breakfast, we'll transfer to Eli Village on Mount Ararat, located at 7,200-feet. Our luggage will be packed up, and carried by horses, as we begin our walk up to Camp 1, located at 10,500-feet (3 – 4 hours). Our camp staff will have a warm meal waiting for us as we arrive. We'll camp here at Camp 1 tonight. Temperatures may drop to 32° or lower during the night, so we'll retire to our warm sleeping bags. (3,300-feet of ascent, 3 – 4 hours)
Day 9 : JULY 26 – Day 2 of our Climb – Acclimatization Hike to 13,120'
Today we will continue our hike up to 13,120-feet. Today's hike is for acclimatization purposes, but we will return to Camp 1 again, where we will sleep a second night. (2,620-feet of ascent, 5 – 6 hours).
Day 10 : JULY 27 – Day 3 of our Climb – To Camp 2 at 13,600'
Today we hike to Camp 2 at 13,600-feet. Our belongings will be carried by horses, and will meet us at camp. After we arrive at Camp 2, we'll settle in, eat a hardy meal, and check prepare our equipment for the next big day – summit day! Temperatures may drop to 15° or lower during the night, so we'll huddle in our warm tents. (3,100-feet of ascent, 5 – 6 hours)
Day 11 : JULY 28 – Summit Day!
Today is the big day – summit day! We'll wake up before the sun rises, and have a good breakfast before we begin our ascent. Our summit of Mount Ararat requires no technical skills, but it is a long and strenuous walk. Because the summit is on a glacier, we will need to wear crampons for the last 650-feet. After 4 to 6 hours of hiking at a steady pace, we'll finally reach the summit at 16,854-feet, where breathtaking panoramic views over Turkey, Iran and Armenia reward our effort. We can expect temperatures as low as 5° at the top. After taking some time to enjoy the view and take a few summit photos, we'll return to Camp 2 where we'll have a well-deserved dinner and rest, before packing up our tents and baggage, and continuing down to Camp 1 for the night. (3,250-feet of ascent, 6,350-feet of descent, all day)
Day 12 : JULY 29 – Descend to Eli Village
After breakfast at Camp 1, we'll hike down to Eli Village (2 hours) where our minibus will meet and take us back to our hotel in Dogubeyazit. We'll have time to freshen up at our hotel, before a nice visit to Ishak Pasa Palace (Ottoman period). This evening we'll celebrate our achievement with a festive dinner at the hotel. (3,300-feet of descent, 3 – 4 hours)
Day 13 : JULY 30 – Return to Istanbul
We'll transfer to Erzurum in the morning and fly back to Istanbul via Ankara departing at 3:45 p.m. and arriving in to Ankara at 5:10 p.m. Our connecting flight to Istanbul departs at 6:00 p.m. and arrives at 7:05 p.m. Upon arrival in Istanbul, we'll transfer to our hotel and spend our final night in Istanbul.
Day 14 : JULY 31 – Departure from Istanbul
After breakfast, we'll transfer to the Istanbul airport for departure flights homeward.
DATES: Best time to go: July Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.
Hotel Arcadia BlueIstanbul
HOTEL ARCADIA BLUE ISTANBUL, recently renovated, re-opened its doors in May 2013. Its current architecture is very modernistic and elegantly lean, where Norm Architects with their contemporary style, gracefully established a relationship with the Sultanahmet area, where the hotel is located. Namely a district, where the historical texture of ?stanbul is the most intensive. The rooms, having bathrooms with Savannah marble flooring, a wall of blue tiles and glass surfaces, are completed with the comfort of air conditioning, mini bar, satellite TV, direct phone connection, free wireless internet access, safe, hair dryer and coffee tray with water heater.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
A native of México, Sergio is Mountain Travel Sobek's senior climbing guide, with over 30 years of experience (his climbing resume is eight pages long—the short version, that is). Besides leading our climbing expeditions in Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina’s Aconcagua, he also loves to lead some of our more challenging treks in Nepal and Peru. Having led more than 300 trips for Mountain Travel Sobek, Sergio has acquired a considerable, loyal following!