This trip is by invitation and currently sold out. Please be in touch if you would like to be placed on the waiting list.
Straddling Europe and Asia, modern Turkey is built on a complex history that continues today. Join us to explore beautiful scenery, enjoy fabulous rowing, indulge in wonderful food and accommodation and also gain insight into the past and present of this intriguing country. Experience three different aspects of Turkey on this rowing trip. We begin and end in Istanbul, one of the world’s most fascinating cities. Next stop is Bodrum, famous for its history and as one of Turkey’s most chic resort towns. The third part of our Turkey rowing tour places us on a more remote peninsula of the south Aegean coastline, where villages retain their fishing and sponge-diving character. Three experiences combined into one tour.
Successive waves of civilizations have crashed and clashed on these rugged shores: Greek, Roman, Crusaders, Seljuk, Byzantium, Ottoman. One might argue that the most recent wave to descend are hoards of tourists, seeking sun, resorts and nightlife. We will have a chance to sample the best of all of these influences, both ancient and modern. In Istanbul we will row in sight of some of the city’s most famous sites and myths. On the Aegean coast we will be in coastal boats. The coastline is stunning – hills plunge into water at times blue, at times green, with beaches regularly punctuating the rocky shore. Fingers of peninsulas reaching across the water to Greek islands. Our last row ends at an archeological site – perfectly connecting our favourite sport with Turkey’s heritage.
The focus is on the rowing, but we will have ample time to immerse ourselves in the history and culture of Turkey. We will explore the famous venues and monuments but also the backstreets and lesser known neighbourhoods of Istanbul. Guides will make historical sites come alive. And then there is the food. Our guide describes himself as “foody, very very foody” and this is good news. Check out some of Alper’s favourite food. Think markets, mezze and meyhanes – the latter are like a tavern where raki is enjoyed with good friends. We might sample kebabs, Turkish sweets, and all the Aegean delights. To drink, of course Turkish coffee, but also tea and excellent red and white wines including some grape variety unique to Turkey. Only the best on this Turkey rowing tour!
Photos courtesy of Alper Ertubey.
|Daily Distances||Boats||Max Group Size|
|10-20 km/day||Coxed coastal quads and double||13 rowing guests|
Important: this Turkey rowing trip is primarily coastal rowing. We will be rowing on the open Aegean Sea, where wind and waves can be a factor, especially in the afternoon. A good level of rowing skill, strength and fitness is required for this trip.
Note that this is the first time this Turkey rowing tour will be run, so it is somewhat experimental in nature. Plans could change. In particular, sea and weather conditions will be an important consideration – safety is a priority. Thus, on some days, the actual program may vary from this description.
Arrive in beautiful and fascinating Istanbul, at the crossroads of civilizations. Settle into our hotel, centrally located in a renovated historic building. Welcome dinner and briefing.
Our Turkey rowing tour truly begins. After an excellent breakfast, we will row on the Golden Horn with local rowers. The Golden Horn is one of Istanbul’s defining features. Approximately eight kilometres in length, the Haliç is an inlet of the Bosphorus dividing the European side of the city. We can see the city walls, towering Ottoman mosques, 19th century churches and the iconic Galata Tower. We might stop at the Koç Museum for coffee. In the afternoon we will take the sultanate boat across the Golden Horn to Eyup district for a walking tour. Eyüp El Ensari died here in the 7th century, during the siege of Constantinople by the Romans, while he was leading the armies of Prophet Muhammed. After 1453 the Turkish sultan built him a memorial and for the following 500 years Ottoman sultans came here from the Topkapi Palace on a row boat for Friday noon prayers.
We are working on organizing a second row in Istanbul, potentially today or tomorrow. Regardless, we will embark on an in-depth walking tour of this iconic city. There is so much to explore and learn. We will visit highlights and must-see locations such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapı Palace. We will also wander down alleyways, dip into markets, stroll quiet and authentic neighbourhoods to see an insider’s Istanbul. There will be lots of coffee breaks and a special lunch.
If we are able to row the day before or today it could be on the northern part of the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea. There is a wonderful rowing story from this location. The Symplegades or Clashing Rocks, also known as the Cyanean Rocks, were, according to Greek mythology, a pair of rocks at the Bosphorus that clashed together whenever a vessel went through. They were defeated by Jason and the Argonauts (looking for the golden fleece), who would have been lost and killed by the rocks except for Phineus’ advice. Jason let a dove fly between the rocks to see exactly how fast they’d have to row to beat the rocks. The dove lost only its tail feathers. The Argonauts rowed mightily to get through and lost only part of the stern ornament. After that, the Symplegades stopped moving permanently. We know how fast we have to row. Today we will fly to Bodrum. In the afternoon we will undertake a walking tour of Mausoleum, the Castle and Underwater Museum. This is the best underwater archaeology museum in the world, with earliest ship wrecks ever found.
In the morning we will go to Halikarnas Rowing Club for a light breakfast, gear check and then rowing! We will row from a bay near the marina past beaches and the waterfront to Çelebi Island. There will be excellent views of the Castle of St. Peter, which we visited yesterday. Built beginning in 1402 by the Knights of St. John, the material was recycled from the Mausoleum, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. In the afternoon, we will have time to see more of Bodrum. Travelling in the shoulder season, we will seek the Bodrum of Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı (known as the ‘Fisherman of Halicarnassus’) who was exiled to Bodrum as a prisoner in 1925. Turkish intellectuals, writers and artists followed him, first making Bodrum a destination in the mid-1940s. He extolled the beauty of the narrow streets, white and blue houses and flower-filled cafés which still can be found.
We leave Bodrum to take the ferry to Datça. It is a 1.5 hour journey with views of the Greek island of Kos. A shorter drive takes us to Emecik where the rowing shells will be waiting for us. We have a 17 km row past Datça, a charming town which attracts retired Turkish intellectuals. It is a port of entry to Turkey and has a small marina. Datça is the modern Knidos (see below!) and famous for the best almonds in the world, great honey and olive oil. Our destination is Kargı Cove. This is a complete change from both Istanbul and Bodrum. Kargi Cove is undeveloped, with just two pebble beaches and one hotel – where we hope to spend the night or at least have a lovely visit!
Today is the longest day on our Turkey rowing tour – a full 20 km. From the beach at Kargi Cove the first section is an 8 km row around a point to Pigs Bay. Inaccessible by road, the beach will be perfect for a rest stop. Then 12 more km to Hayıtbükü and our next beach hotel. It is quite remote, with hidden rocky inlets, trees on hills plunging into the water and more beaches. A perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the city and resort town.
Our exploration of the coast continues as we continue to row westwards along the narrow Datça Peninsula. Our destination, 13 km away, is Palamutbükü, where we will spend two nights. Along the way we will stop at Ovabükü beach. The beach at Palamutbükü is called a golden shingle, a stunning contrast with the crystal blue water. Development is slower here, and almond and olive trees still dot the hillsides. This is where we kick back and relax in a tranquil setting. Our beach hotel is just perfect for this. Ah, that feels good. And for the energetic, we can organize hiking in the hills behind the village.
On our last day of rowing, we will trailer the boats around a big point and then enjoy a leisurely 10 row to a spectacular finale. When was the last time that you rowed to an archeological site? Knidos was established by the Greeks at the tip of the peninsula, where a double natural harbour made for a perfect port town and safe haven. Apparently St Paul, en route to Rome for trial in AD 50 or 60, was one of many maritime passengers forced to wait out a storm here. While few building remain, there is a lot to see on the vast site that rises up the hills from the water. We will take our time to immerse ourselves in the history and landscape. Then time to load the boats onto the trailer and say goodbye to them and the local support staff, as they return to Bodrum. We will be driven back to our beach hotel, anticipating a beautiful sunset to round out the day.
After a leisurely breakfast we will make our way to Dalaman airport – the drive will give us a chance to see more of the Turkish landscape. An early afternoon flight takes us back to Istanbul. Tonight is a final, farewell dinner – it is going to be good!
All good things come to an end. We hope you will have enjoyed a wonderful Turkey rowing tour!