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Turkey Tour: Erdogan & The Anatolian Tigers

Backed by rapid growth and religious conviction, Recep Tayyip Erdogan is changing the face of his country.  Analysts Ekrem Güzeldere and Piotr Zalewski examine what this means for the region.


Dates: Oct 26th - Nov 2nd

Cost: £2,750.00

Single Supplement: £250.00


Changing Turkey - A slideshow by: Lynsey Addario

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Book your Turkey Tour: Erdogan & The Anatolian Tigers

Tour Itinerary

Turkey is going through a significant period of change. Led by a conservative and avowedly religious leader, it has emerged as a significant power in the Mediterranean basin. But more recently, protests and a wave corruption scandals have led many in and outside Turkey to question the country’s course.

The Turkey tour starts in Konya, a city in central Anatolia at the heart of the religious and political transformation of the country. From there we go onto the capital Ankara and then Istanbul where opposition to the government has been growing.

We explore recent events with academics, journalists, politicians, activists and ordinary people. The briefings and discussion will be interspersed with tours of key institutions, as well as historic sites, not to mention excellent food.

This tour will number between 8 and 14 persons. All our tours are adapted closer to the time to reflect current events.


Day 1 – To Konya

This evening, there will be a welcome dinner with an introduction of the tour itinerary, with Political Tours staff who will give a summary of the region and an introduction to the tour. Stay 2 nights at a centrally located hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 2 – Konya

Konya is a stronghold of the ruling Justice and Development Party or AKP, as well as being a pilgrimage centre. It is an excellent place to see the revolution that has transformed Turkish politics, allying conservative religious ethics with a passion for business and commerce. Here we visit the tomb of the renown Sufi mystic and poet Rumi, explore the historic city centre, and visit a local family. What are ordinary people’s priorities and just how did the AKP become so popular? At dinner we meet with a leading Turkish academic and discuss the role of religion in politics. Overnight in Konya. (B, L, D)

Day 3 – Konya

It is the growth of family run businesses and their international success that has transformed the Turkish economy. We visit an industrial zone on the edge of the city to see how some of these firms operate. Building programs backed by the city have also accelerated. We meet with city authorities, but also raise concerns about what many see as a debt fuelled boom. In the afternoon we take the fast train to Ankara where we dine. Overnight Ankara in a centrally located hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 4 – Ankara

This morning we visit Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Ataturk set out to create a secular modern state. Turks still revere him today, but what would he think the country’s religious revival? This is followed by a late lunch with an expert on Turkish nationalism. After a late afternoon break we dine in the city’s fortress. The discussion topic for this evening’s dinner will be ‘Human rights in Turkey’ hosted by a representative from the human rights centre of Ankara University, and a lawyer of the Human Rights Agenda Association. Overnight at a centrally located hotel (Name –TBA). (B, L, D)

Day 5 – Ankara & To Istanbul

After a morning briefing with a local correspondent the Turkey Tour will proceed to the parliament buildings for a tour with an MP from the ruling AKP party. We also meet with the republican CHP and the Kurdish BDP. Lunch in parliament (TBC). We travel by fast train to Istanbul in mid afternoon. After checking into our hotel we dine with Political Tour’s Istanbul analysts Piotr Zalewski and Ekrem Guzeldere. (B, L, D)

Day 6 – Istanbul – Changing Turkey: An Economic Power, Urban Redevelopment & the Growing Income Gap

After breakfast this morning we leave for the Asian side of the Bosphorous, on a visit that examines the rapid social changes and economic growth that Istanbul has experienced. The tour will visit an international food conglomerate and a leading business in the area before proceeding to Umraniye where we will meet a local family who have migrated to Istanbul from Anatolia. Lunch will be in Ciya, with a menu that offers a range of foods available across Turkey. We return by boat to the European side after lunch and join Constanze Leitsch, the Guardian’s Turkey correspondent to examine the impact of Istanbul’s rapid urbanisation on less well off groups. This evening’s dinner looks at the challenges faces Turkey’s economy as growth slows. (B, L, D)

Day 7 – Istanbul: Corruption & Conflict

Prime Minister Erdogan government has come under increasing pressure since the summer of 2013. Protests over plans to redevelop a park close to Taksim square, a corruption scandal and more recently the Soma mining disaster have bolstered the opposition. In the afternoon, there will be an excursion to a fashion house that produces clothes for conservative Muslim clientele. To end the day, this evening over dinner there will be a discussion by experts regarding ‘Democracy and Islam in Turkey’. (B, L, D)

Day 8 –  Istanbul

Following  breakfast there will be a guided walk through Galata with visits to an Italian church, Sephardic Synagogue, Genoese administrative buildings, Jewish museum, old workplaces and fish market followed by lunch at a nearby restaurant. This afternoon, there will be the opportunity to join an optional guided walk through Istanbul including visits to Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome and the Grand Bazaar, ending at the spice market and Yeni (New) Mosque.

This evening’s dinner will be in the Cihangir neighbourhood of the city, with the following guest speakers: Turkey analysts, a former MEP, now at Sabanci University and a professor at Bahcesehir University. They will review a changing Turkey: the rise of the AKP, Turkey as an emerging power, Anatolian Tigers and Turkey-EU relations in 2014. This evening, there will be a farewell dinner on the Bosphorus. (B, L, D)

Day 9 – Leave Turkey

Tours Ends Departures to airport. (B)

Meal basis: As per itinerary – B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner, N: No meals.

Flights: International and domestic flights are not included in the above itinerary, we are a land tour operator and do not sell flights. However we can assist you in finding flights, and recommend using the website skyscanner.net, which lists all the options.


Itinerary for Kurdish Extension

Day 9: Flight to Diyarbakir

Tour starting in the evening, allowing for travel from Istanbul.

Day 10  Diyarkabir

Guided walking tour: lost multiculturalism, rebuilding the old town with EU support, the Armenian Church, former Chaldean patriarchate and Ulu Mosque. Dinner with a regional correspondent: an introduction to Diyarbakir and the Kurdish issue.

Day 11: Diyarbakir – Hasankeyf – Midyat

Breakfast in the hotel with Nurcan Baysal, a civil society expert who runs village projects in the Van and Urfa region. Depart to Batman and Hasankeyf at the Tigris river, which will be submerged under water after construction of the Ilisu dam. Meeting with activists and villagers about the current situation.

In the afternoon we will continue to Midyat where we will have dinner in our hotel, an old mansion turned into a hotel.

Day 12: Mor Gabriel – Syriac village – Mardin

Depart from Midyat to Mor Gabriel Monastery, the most important Assyrian monastery in Turkey, built in 397AD. The monastery is facing several court cases concerning land it has used for centuries and has been paying taxes since 1936, which neighbouring villages claim.  Visit of Mor Gabriel Monastery, meeting with Syriac activist dealing with education. Transfer to Syriac village Kafro for lunch and a meeting with the village mayor Aziz Demir about the return of Syriacs from Europe.

In the afternoon transfer to Mardin, meeting at Artuklu University with a professor from the faculty of “Living Languages” teaching at Kurdish Studies. In the evening transfer to the hotel in the old town. Dinner overlooking the old town.

Day 13: Tours Ends

If you would like to book a tour please click here to fill in our booking form. Or call us on 0843 289 2349 or email us at info@politicaltours.com to find out more.

Essential Information

How to make your Turkey Tour booking

You can make a booking by contacting Political Tours directly by phone on 0834 289 2349, email info@politicaltours.com or click here to fill in our booking form.

To confirm your booking you need to send a non-refundable deposit of 15% of the total holiday cost or £250 per person (whichever is the greater) made payable to Political Tours Limited.

If you are booking less than 8 weeks prior to departure the full cost of the tour is payable.

If you would like to contact Political Tours’ Director, Nicholas Wood, he can be reached by email at nicholaswood@politicaltours.com or by mobile phone on +44 7855 266 151.

What is included in the Turkey Tour?

The price includes accommodation in 4-5 star hotels in Istanbul and Ankara as well as all meals during the visit. All the accommodation includes private bathrooms.

Please be aware that Political Tours is a land only tour operator. Our clients travel from many countries and the costs of flights to and from the destination are not included in the price.

How to reach the Turkey

There are regular daily flights between the two airports in Istanbul, Atatürk and Sabiha Gökcen, to most British airports, including London (Heathrow, Gatwick Stansted and Luton) Birmingham, Manchester as well as several major international airports including Paris, Berlin, Rome (Fiumicino), Brussels, Warsaw, New York, Geneva, Barcelona and Stockholm.

A taxi from Atatürk Airport to the hotel costs 40 TL (20 Euros); a taxi from Sabiha Gökcen Airport should cost circa 80 TL (40 Euros). There are also shuttle busses (Havas) to Taksim square (near the hotel) from both airports for 10 or 14 TL (5 or 7 Euros).

Climate & Clothing Suggestions

In May temperatures in Istanbul and Ankara are relatively mild, reaching 20-25 degrees Celsius during the day. However, there is occasional rainfall.

Passports, Visa & Health

All clients are personally responsible for ensuring that they have a valid passport, relevant visa's and conform to the health regulations required by the country's that will be visited during the tour.

Citizens of the European Economic Area, the United States and Canada are not required to obtain visas in their home country in order to travel to Turkey. However, some nationals are required to purchase a tourist visa on arrival at the airport. The cost of the tourist visa varies from 15-30 USD, although Canadian citizens must pay 60 USD. For more information, see www.mfa.gov.tr/visa-information-for-foreigners.

Advice on health requirements may be obtained from your GP, or alternatively from the Department of Health leaflet Advice on Health for Travelers, which may be obtained from us, or the Department of Health in the UK.

Personal Safety

Compared to most major cities in Europe and the USA, Istanbul and Ankara are relatively safe, even at night. It is advisable to dress appropriately in conservative neighborhoods.

We also advise all of our clients to check the Foreign Office’s Travel Advice site for Turkey before departure.



Appropriate and adequate travel insurance is essential and is a condition of travelling with us. Your policy must include comprehensive medical cover including the cost of evacuation and repatriation from the remote destinations included in your tour in the event of illness or accident in addition to other medical requirements.

Please provide us with confirmation of the name of your insurance company, the policy number and the insurers’ emergency contact telephone number for use in a medical emergency no later than 8 weeks prior to the tour departure. If you fail to do so, we are entitled to cancel your booking and apply the cancellation charges shown below.

You must also ensure that the policy will protect you in the event that you travel to an area against the advice of the Foreign Office.

Hazards Inherent in Our Tours

It is in the nature of the itineraries we offer that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office may have issued advice against all travel or all but essential travel in relation to the country or parts of the country we are intending to visit prior to confirmation of your booking. Where the FCO issues such advice, we may as a result cancel your tour or make changes so as to avoid the area concerned (see clauses 10 and 12 of our Terms and Booking Conditions). Alternatively, we may ask you to sign a form confirming you wish to proceed with the tour notwithstanding the FCO advice.

Our Cancellation Charges

If you feel you need to cancel a tour before departure we reserve the right to make the following charges.

Period before departure within which written notification of cancellation is received by us.

Cancellation charge per person cancelling.

Up to 56 days                                                             Deposit

55 to 28 days                                                              50%

27 to 15 days                                                               75%

14 days or less                                                            100%

On receipt of your booking form and deposit we will confirm your booking in writing, then approximately 8 weeks before departure we shall send you further information relevant to your tour together with a final invoice.

Please pay the invoice within 10 days of the invoice date otherwise we reserve the right to treat the booking as cancelled and apply the cancellation conditions as set out below. Your travel documents are dispatched about 7/10 days before the tour departs.

Booking Terms and Conditions

Full details of our terms and conditions can be viewed by clicking this link.

Further Reading

Nicole and Hugh Pope, Turkey Unveiled, Overlook TP (June 29, 2004) ISBN-10: 1585675814, www.amazon.com/Turkey-Unveiled-Nicole-Pope/.

Andrew Mango, The Turks Today, Publisher: Overlook TP (March 28, 2006) ISBN-10: 1585677566, www.amazon.com/Turks-Today-Andrew-Mango/.

Andrew Mango, Atatürk, Publisher: Overlook TP (August 26, 2002) ISBN-10: 158567334X, http://www.amazon.com/Ataturk-Biography-founder-Modern-Turkey/.

Stephen Kinzer, Crescent and Star, Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Revised edition (September 16, 2008) ISBN-10: 0374531404, www.amazon.com/Crescent-Star-Turkey-Between-Worlds/.

William Hale, Turkish Foreign Policy 1774-2000, ISBN: 9780714682464, Routledge (9/2002), http://www.pandora.com.tr/id=86694.

Graham Fuller, The New Turkish Republic: Turkey as a Pivotal State in the Muslim World - Publisher: United States Institute of Peace Press (December 12, 2007) - ISBN-10: 1601270194, www.amazon.com/New-Turkish-Republic-Turkey-Pivotal.

F. Stephen Larrabee and Ian Lesser, Turkish Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty, 2003, ISBN/EAN: 0-8330-3281-X, www.rand.org/monograph_reports/MR1612.html.

Kemal Kirişci, Turkey's foreign policy in turbulent times, www.iss.europa.eu.

David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds, I. B. Tauris (February 15, 1997) ISBN-10: 1860641857, www.amazon.com/Modern-History-Kurds-David-McDowall/.

Eric J. Zurcher, Turkey, A Modern History, B. Tauris, London 2003, ISBN-10: 1860649580, www.amazon.com/Turkey-History-Erik-J.

Martin van Bruinessen, Agha, Shaikh and State - The Social and Political Structures of Kurdistan, September 1991, Zed Books Ltd. ISBN 10 185649019X, www.amazon.com/Agha-Shaikh-State-Political-Structures.

Steven A. Cook, Ruling but not governing – The Military and Political Development in Egypt, Algeria and Turkey, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007 , ISBN-10: 0801885914 www.amazon.com/Ruling-But-Not-Governing-Development/.

Gareth Jenkins, Context and Circumstance: The Turkish Military and Politics, Adelphi Paper 337, International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2001

Ahmet Insel and Ali Bayramoglu (editors), Almanac Turkey 2006 – 2008, Security Sector and Democratic Oversight, Tesev Publications, August 2010, www.tesev.org.tr/gsr-almanac-2006-08.pdf.

Philip Robins, Suits and uniforms: Turkish foreign policy since the Cold War. Hurst, 2003, www.books.google.co.uk/Suits_and_Uniforms.