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Tbilisi to Istanbul

Asia is the continent where overlanding all started, and Dragoman has been the leading operator there since our first trucks went through in the 1980s - take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. This wonderful holiday-length overlanding adventure is the first leg of the ancient Silk Road, along which ancient traders would journey between Europe and China. Our journey starts in the magnificent city of Istanbul, once the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires and heaving with awe-inspiring historical sites. We will then overland through Turkey to the magical land of Cappadocia, where we explore the underground cities and Byzantine rock-hewn churches of the Greme Valley before heading northeast to the breathtaking ancient monastery of Sumela. Our route then skirts the Black Sea and crosses over into the unique country of Georgia. Here you'll discover the port town of Batumi, the ancient city of Kutaisi and its fantastic Orthodox churches, and the town of Gori, birthplace of the infamous Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. We then head to the charming capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. Join us on this wonderful and unforgettable overland experience on the Silk Road!

  • Duration: 12 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Hiking, Historical Sites, Local Culture & Cuisine, Parks & Nature Reserves, Trekking
  • Physical rating: Light
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 80.0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Tour code: 158284
  • Starts: Tbilisi, Georgia
  • Finishes: Istanbul, Turkey
You will Visit
  • Tbilisi
  • Kazbegi
  • Mtskheta
  • Kutaisi
  • Gori
  • Batumi
  • Sumela
  • Zara
  • Göreme
  • Istanbul

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Tbilisi

Border information: if you are joining in Tbilisi, you will most likely enter Georgia at Tbilisi International Airport (IATA code: TBS).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - on arrival please look out for a note from your leader with more information about this important meeting.

This afternoon we will visit the old town of Tbilisi and visit sites including the National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the Metekhi Temple.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Tbilisi before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Tbilisi.

In Tbilisi we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

02

Day 2: Stepantsminda

Today our journey begins with a beautiful drive to the spectacularly located town of Stepantsminda (formerly known as Kazbegi).

Either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, we will take a trek up to the Tsminda Sameba Church (the Church of the Holy Trinity), a beautiful small church nestled in the mountains.

In Stepantsminda we will stay in a local hotel or family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

03

Day 3: Stepantsminda

We spend this morning in and around Stepantsminda, where we can trek to the Tsminda Sameba Church if we haven't done so already.

This afternoon we have a beautiful drive to the UNESCO world heritage site of Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia. Whilst here we will explore the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.

In Mtskheta we will stay overnight in a local guesthouse. 

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

04

Day 4: Kutaisi

This morning we drive to Gori, the birthplace of Stalin - here we will have a guided tour of the city and the Stalin Museum.

We then make our way to the ancient town of Kutaisi. This afternoon we will visit the medieval Bragrati cathedral and the Gelati monastery.

In Kutaisi we will stay in a local hotel or a family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

05

Day 5: Batumi

This morning we will continue to the port town of Batumi, where we will have a free afternoon to explore.

In Batumi we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

06

Day 6: Sumela

Border Information: Exit Georgia at Sarpi, enter Turkey at Sarp.

This morning we will continue to the border and cross into Turkey. We will reach the awe-inpsiring Sumela Monastery near the town of Macka, which we will either visit in the afternoon or the next morning.

We will camp overnight in a campsite near Sumela if conditions allow. In cold weather we may opt to stay in a local hotel in Macka or Trabzon.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

07

Day 7: Zara

This morning we will visit the beautiful Sumela Monastery if we didn't have time yesterday, and then start our drive through central Turkey towards Göreme.

We will break the journey with a wild camp near Zara or the village of Alucra.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

 

08

Day 8: Göreme

Today we will complete our drive to Göreme, a small enchanting town in the heart of the Cappadocia mountains.

In Göreme we will stay in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are sometimes used here.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.

09

Day 9-10: Göreme

We now have a 2 full days to explore Göreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during our time here.

10

Day 11: Istanbul

Today we will have a full day's drive west to arrive in Istanbul, the only city in the world that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia.

In Istanbul we will stay in dorm accommodation in a fantastic hostel with good facilities, which is a 5 minute walk from the Blue Mosque.

Estimated Drive Time - 10-11 hours.

11

Day 12: Istanbul

Border information: if leaving the trip in Istanbul, you will most likely exit Turkey from Istanbul Atatürk International Airport (IATA code: IST).

Today will be free to explore the many sights of the incredible exotic city of Istanbul, including the Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorus River and the phenomenal Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia!

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Istanbul. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Hike to beautiful 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, set in the stunning mountains above Stepantsminda
    • Explore the colossal and awe-inspiring Prometheus Caves near Kutaisi
    • Explore the incredible Sumela Monastery, a 4th-century rock monastery nestled high in a steep cliff in the Altindere Hills
    • Explore the Early Christian underground cities of Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı, used as a hiding place from persecutions for centuries
    • Walk through the beautiful ancient valley of Ihlara, containing the beautiful rock-hewn churches built by the Cappadocian Greeks during the Byzantine era
    Tour Staff
    • 2 Dragoman crew plus 1 local crew in Georgia
    Accomodation
    • 20% Camping - 80% Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
  • Adventure Activities
  • Hiking & Trekking
  • History & Culture
  • Nature & Wildlife
  • Overland Journey


Reviews (5)
Julia S Posted on: 

Gino and Jim are a perfect match and they turned my first overland trip from Istanbul to Xi'an into a truly unforgettable adventure! Both are very helpful and very pleasant persons and it is great fun to travel with them. I always felt safe and secure with them, no matter where we were. Many thanks to you guys, you are incredible!

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Charleen K Posted on: 

Sophie had very good English skills. She had a great sense of humor and was knowledgeable about her country of Georgia.

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Kushal I Posted on: 

On long trips or when spirits were down, Domingo did a wonderful job at cheering people up. Euan the driver was great, he drove very well, and had a very good attitude.

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Joseph K Posted on: 

Our guide in Georgia was Sophie - she was helpful, pleasant and knowledgeable of the country's history, geology, and past events. Very willing to help.

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Kelly P Posted on: 

Overall the trip was fantastic. The two guides added to my overall satisfaction; they were responsible, approachable, friendly and honest.

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