Turkey - Kurdistan
Getting there and away
Our cycling holiday starts in Diyarbakiron a Saturday. We appreciate that people join redspokes tours from all over the world and therefore no matter what time you arrive at the airport redspokes will pick you up so that you and your luggage can be transferred to your hotel. Please bear in mind that if you arrive before midday you may have to wait for your room to be made available. If you decide to arrive before this date redspokes can assist you in booking your accommodation and will organise a transfer to your hotel for a charge of £10.
We are unable to include your international flights as part of the tour due to the Package holidays and Package tours Regulations 1992. The tour ends in Van on a Friday. If you decide to stay beyond the last day of the tour redspokes can help you organise extra accommodation and transfers to the airport if needed. Due to high demand for rooms there is a possibility you may be in a different hotel to the start / end hotel of your trip.
Visas and Passports
You must ensure that you travel on a full passport with at least 6 months validity from the date of your return. You will also need sufficient blank pages for your visa stamps. Visitors of all nationalities will require a visa. Currently travellers to can choose to apply for an e-visa via the Turkish government website (www.evisa.gov.tr) or on arrival via interactive kiosks located at Turkish airports. In both cases the visa is for 90 days multiple entry and costs£15.
It is illegal not to carry some form of photographic ID in Turkey. Keep a photocopy of your passport with you at all times.
It is a condition of joining our trips that you must be adequately insured. You are expected to arrange your own insurance. Polices should cover any potential risks involved in a mountain cycling holiday. We ask for your policy to be provided with your completed booking form.
Snowcard Insurance Services specialize in all mountain sports holidays including mountain biking. Their policies include emergency medical and repatriation expenses as well as mountain rescue. They are also able to insure personal belongings including equipment as well as travel cover for cancellation, delay and missed departure. Follow the link below to obtain full information and a quote: www.snowcard.co.uk.If you are not a UK resident we suggest you look at Travelex insurance. Details of cover can be found atwww.travelex-insurance.com
We strongly advise you to take out cancellation insurance when booking your trip.
Plan ahead for your vaccinations, some of them require more than one injection you should seek medical advice at least six weeks before travel. We recommend vaccinations against typhoid, polio, hepatitis A, and a tetanus injection is essential.
Malaria - There is a slight risk of contracting malaria, but again prevention is better than cure, so be sure to take with you good supplies of anti-mosquito wipes or sprays to protect exposed skin and use the anti-mosquito electric plug-in tablets or liquid in your accommodation overnight.
Cycling Support and Grading
You should be used to regular aerobic exercise including biking; you do not need to be an athlete. It pays to spend some time before the trip getting into the best shape possible. This will ensure you get the most from your holiday. We can send you specific training tips.
There will be rest stops every 20-35kms depending on the terrain; you will have access to your luggage, and the opportunity to have drinks/snacks.
Not all countries of the world have the same transport facilities and regulations as those of the EU, North America and Australasia. In all destinations we ensure that transport meets the standards of local regulations; you must be prepared for this to be of a different standard than you may be accustomed to.
Equipment and bike stuff
The Eastern Turkey tour is suitable for mountain bikes with front suspension or strong touring bikes. Our leaders carry a good tool kit and will help to fix any bike problems. However, we cannot guarantee to be equipped for all repairs, so you must ensure that your bike is in good working order before the tour. If you are not the most mechanically minded we suggest that you get your bike looked at by a professional bike mechanic. In particular we would suggest looking and adjusting all wheel spokes, greasing all your bearings, checking your brakes/gears cable, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamps, tires and put in new inner tubes and check wheel rims are not worn. In addition to making sure the bike is well serviced you should ride with as much care and attention as possible.
We would also advise you to bring the following tools: multi-tool, tyre levers, pump, 2 spare inner tube, spare spokes of the correct length to fit your wheels - check with a bike shop, brake pads, a few spare links for your chain, if applicable, spares for any unique or high-tech items on your bike, e.g. fluid and bleed kit for hydraulic brakes.
There is no bike hire available for this tour.
During cycling days a back-up vehicle will be with the group. It will be used for carrying our luggage, supplies and anyone who gets into difficulty.
Baggage allowances and your bike
Your bike will travel as a part of your luggage allowance and to this end we do ask you to make every effort to keep your total check-in baggage to an absolute minimum. The baggage allowance for most airlines for an economy-class ticket is 20kg per person; although a degree of flexibility is usually extended to groups and the check in staff may accept up to 26kg per person without imposing excess baggage charges.
Your bike (in its cardboard box) will weigh 15 to 18kg. So, that means you will have a small allowance for clothing etc. You should carry small heavy items in your day pack / pannier which you can take onto the plane as hand luggage.
Your hand luggage is not included as a part of your overall allowance, as it is not weighed. Please inform your airline that you will be taking your bike on the flight, and attempt to make every effort to secure from the airline an additional baggage allowance - but this is not always granted. Although we cannot guarantee that there will not be excess baggage charges, this is something, which very rarely happens.
In terms of clothing this is a general guide as to what to take. It is entirely flexible and should be tailored to your specific needs although when planning for this trip you should observe cultural sensitivities. Sunglasses, lightweight trekking boots/shoes, cycling footwear, lightweight socks (3 pairs), underwear (4 pairs), lightweight trekking shorts, baggy cycling shorts (2 pairs),shorts, T-shirts (2), lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, fleece jacket/pullover, biking jacket, waterproof (breathable fabric), fingerless biking gloves, headlamp & spare bulbs/batteries, spare laces, sunglasses, toiletries, basic first aid kit, towel (small), small padlock, 2 large plastic bags (for keeping items dry in your bag), sun cream, lip balm. If you have any questions about this list please feel free to contact us.
You will need to have a cycling helmet, gloves, sunglasses, sun-cream, long hat, long trousers, 2 water bottles, basic bike repair kit including spare inner tube. A full equipment list will be sent to you on booking.
On all our tours the guides carry a medical kit. However you are recommend to bring your own first aid supplies which should include: a broad spectrum anti-biotic, antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, a cold medication, diarrhoea treatment, pain killers, plasters, insect repellent and re-hydration salts.
What's is and is not included?
All accommodation will be in hotels or guest houses. We choose accommodation on the basis of comfort rather than luxury. Our prices are based on sharing a twin room; single rooms are available at extra cost. There are a few nights when we are off the beaten track and the accommodation is fairly basic as there are no available alternatives.
On the tour, we provide most meals (see trip notes for details) along with snacks and mineral water during cycling days. All transportation and local guides within Turkey are included.
International flights are not included in the tour costs.
Spending money depends on your taste for souvenirs, drinks etc. We estimate that £250 will be more than enough to cover the 14 day tour. You can expect to pay around £3 - £10 for a 3 course meal in a restaurant.
Tipping is an accepted part of everyday life, and although it is always at your discretion, you will be expected to tip to reward service. £25 for the guide and team at the end of the tour is recommended.
A typical Turkish breakfast is simple and includes cheese, butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam and honey. Sujuk (spicy Turkish sausage, can be eaten with eggs). Soups are eaten as a morning meal in Turkey. Menemen is a common Turkish speciality for breakfast, prepared with tomatoes, green peppers, onion, olive oil and eggs. Invariably, Turkish tea is served at breakfast. A typical evening meal starts with soup (in the winter), followed by a dish made of vegetables boiled in a pot (typically with meat or minced meat), often with or before rice or bulgur pilaf and a salad or cack (diluted yogurt and minced cucumbers).
Other popular traditional breakfasts (which require far more preparation) include haleem (wheatmeal served plain or more commonly with shredded lamb or turkey - similar to Western oatmeal in some respects) and sheh mohshh (thick soup). These are typically regional specialities, and many cities and towns all across Iran feature their own distinct versions.
Tap water is usually drinkable but tends to be heavily chlorinated. Bottled mineral water is readily available, cheap and usually the preferred choice.
Currency in Turkey
US dollars and Euros are the easiest currencies to change. Many banks and exchange offices will also change other major currencies such as UK pounds and Japanese yen. You may find it difficult to exchange Australian or Canadian currency except in major cities. Exchange rates can be checked herewww.xe.com/currencyconverter
The majority of banks have ATMs and there are a large number of free-standing machines. They operate in the same way as those throughout the US and Europe. There is an option on most to choose the language and currency. A note of caution - free standing air conditioned booths are sometimes tampered with and it may also be difficult to get your card back if it is swallowed by the machine these booths are often run by franchisees rather than the banks themselves. It's often safer to use ATMs in bank buildings. Please make sure you advise your bank of your trip to Turkey. If not the bank may freeze your card after one or two transactions.
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted by hotels, shops, bars and restaurants in the main tourist areas but not off the beaten track. Amex cards are rarely accepted.
Spending money depends on your taste for souvenirs, drinks etc. We estimate that £250 will be more than enough to cover the 14-day tour.
Tipping the local guide and support staff at the end of the trip is at your discretion: US$4-5 per day is recommended if you want to show your appreciation of their service.
In the cheapest Turkish restaurants leave a few coins in the change tray. Elsewhere you should tip about 10% to 15% of the bill. More expensive restaurants automatically add a 10% or 15% service charge to your bill, but there's no guarantee this goes to the staff, so you may want to tip the staff directly.
Turkey is no longer Europe's bargain-basement destination, but it still offers good value for money with costs being lowest in most regions of eastern Turkey. Tipping is not so structured in Iran, any money you leave is usually a pleasant surprise.
Turkey: Turkish, Kurdish and English in major cities and towns.
The temperature will fluctuate by over 20Â°C between day and night and your clothing needs to take account of this. Typically temperatures range between 14Â°C - 25Â°C in the day to around 4Â°C in the night. Snowfall is occasional in winter and generally happens in relatively hillier regions.
Country facts: Turkey
Official name: Republic of Turkey
Population: 30 million (40% of the country's population of 70 million)
Other main towns: Adana, Gaziantep, Konya, Kayseri, Diyarbakir
Area: 546,406km (339 520.948 miles)
Major languages: Turkish (official), Kurdish
Major Religions: Muslim
Currency: Turkish lira (TL)
Monetary unit: 1 lira = 100 kurus
Internet domain: .tr
International dialling code: +90
Local laws and customs Turkey
be prepared for people to smoke in different venues.
expect that in many Kurdish households seating is arranged on the floor.
women avoid physical contact with men. Handshakes between the sexes may be allowed; a two-handed handshake is especially welcoming. But do not shake a woman's hand (if you are male) unless she first offers it to you.
be respectful and express gratitude for Kurdish hospitality and generosity.
bring a small gift to your Kurdish host. An offering of fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, pastries, and even cigarettes (for males only) will be welcomed. Avoid offering a gift that draws attention to your relative wealth.
repeat your offer of a gift two or three times until your host accepts. Kurds may initially refuse to accept gifts.
do not pay undue attention to a person of the opposite sex even if he is a guest.
do not refer to any Kurds as a dog or a mother of a dog. Dogs are reviled in Kurdish culture.
it is considered rude for a host to not offer a guest something to eat and drink. This custom holds to unexpected visitors as well. It is polite to accept your host's offer.
do not offend your host by refusing to enter a room first. Kurdish culture has a rank system where the oldest or highest-ranking person socially enters a room first; women are usually among the last to enter.
do not admire something in a Kurdish household unless you are prepared to accept it. To do so is a guarantee that you will be presented with the item. It is impossible to graciously refuse a gift, especially after admiring the object. Although reciprocation is not required, it is usually polite to try to offer something of equal value in return at a later point.