Continental Crossroads

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There is truth in the old Turkish proverb: "A good companion shortens the longest road." On our Continental Crossroads tour you join like-minded photography-oriented companions on a rewarding journey to photogenic Turkey—a historic, cultural and trade crossroads straddling two continents, and former capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
"Mehmet is an avid and great photographer, keen historian and wonderful in engaging the local people. Photographic subjects were many and varied and we covered so much ground while maximizing time at each location. I can't recommend the whole experience highly enough for all levels of photographers."
- Mark G.
As photography destinations go, Turkey is hard to beat! For starters, Turkey has more Greek and Roman ruins than Greece and Italy, combined. Its extraordinary architecture, sun-drenched seacoast, dramatic scenery and unusual natural wonders—along with a fantastic cuisine and first-rate infrastructure—provide all the ingredients for a spectacular photography vacation. The Turkish people have an unrivaled reputation for hospitality, and for many travelers the memory of Turkey that lingers longest is the incredible friendliness of the Turks themselves.

The former Constantinople, 2600-year-old Istanbul gives us our first taste of the exceptional photography in Turkey, as well as its famous cuisine. From the warm early morning light on the domes of Suleymaniye Mosque with the Golden Horn in the foreground, to sunset silhouettes of Haghia Sophia and the iconic minarets and domes of the Blue Mosque—and all the vibrant colors and exotic sights of the Spice Market in between—Istanbul offers an endless array of enticing photo subjects.

In the heart of Cappadocia we photograph erosion-sculpted volcanic tuff—a fabulous geologic fantasyland of sinuous shapes and imposing "fairy chimneys." Wildflowers, especially red poppies, may carpet the roadside. Against a backdrop of the carved-rock citadel of Uchisar, we capture vivid shots of vibrantly-colored hot air balloons drifting on an early morning breeze. One of the many highlights of our travels is an early morning walk to the top of fabled Mt. Nemrut where, as the sun rises, we photograph enigmatic colossal statues of Hellenistic gods and animals strewn amid this ancient open-air temple built in the first century.

Our southeastward travels take us to the ancient stone city of Mardin overlooking the Mesopotamian Plain. Known for a distinctive Arab-style architecture, one of city's most impressive buildings is the 13th-century Zinciriye Medrese with its striped domes, commanding minaret and monumental main gate. Our locations include the ruins of Ephesus—the best-preserved Roman city in the Mediterranean area—where we photograph storks in their nests atop a Roman aqueduct.

Join us on a remarkable tour to an exciting country clearly positioned with one foot in Europe and one foot in Asia. In addition to outstanding photography opportunities, we explore the dramatic contrast of Turkey’s ancient and modern worlds, sample one of the world’s great cuisines, reside in charming accommodations, and appreciate the friends we make along the way.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1
Participants depart on overnight flights to Istanbul.
Day 2 (May 12)
Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to our hotel. We meet for late afternoon photography in the local area and we go to the eerie Underground Cistern, a sixth-century reservoir, to photograph watery reflections of the more than 300 columns supporting the roof. Depending on the performance schedule, we may photograph at a whirling dervish performance this evening. Our hotel is in the center of the Old City—and offers a unique photo angle overlooking the Blue Mosque, Haghia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Bosphorus. (D)
Day 3
We photograph the mosques along the Golden Horn in early morning light. After returning to the hotel for breakfast, we visit the New Mosque and photograph the colorful Spice Market. After an early afternoon rest, we will drive to the Asian side of the city to capture the skyline silhouettes at sunset. (BLD)
Day 4
In the morning, we fly to one of the most photogenic regions in Turkey to explore Mardin's old bazaar—where medieval scenes abound—and the minaret of 13th-century Ulu Mosque with the Mesopotamian Plain in the background. In the afternoon headstones in an ancient cemetery against a scenic city background are photo subjects. Our small boutique hotel is located in the center of the old city. (BLD)
Day 5
We visit the Syrian Orthodox Christian Monastery of Dayrulzefaran—still in use today—before we continue to Ancient Edessa, known as the city of prophets. Here we can photograph the old bazaar, spice stands, copper craftsmen, people visiting Abraham’s cave where it is believed Prophet Abraham was born. This old city is an excellent location for people photography. (BLD)
Day 6
This morning we photograph the hill-like mud brick domed houses and the ruins of the oldest mosque in Anatolia. We continue toward Mt. Nemrut, stopping to photograph at the Ataturk Dam along the Euphrates and, possibly, local farmers working the fields. (BLD)
Day 7
We rise very early in the morning for our 1:30 AM departure to Mt. Nemrut. A half-hour hike takes us to the top for sunrise photography of the giant statues and open-air temple built in the first century. Following breakfast in a mountain café, we travel through picturesque mountains and villages on the way back to our hotel for an afternoon rest. (BLD)
Day 8
During a scenic drive to Cappadocia, we photograph wheat fields and landscapes with wildflowers. Our overnight is in a remarkable hotel carved in the volcanic tuff—in harmony with the local landscape and a subject for our cameras on its own. (BLD)
Day 9
We photograph the volcanic citadel at Uchisar—a carved rock formation converted to a fort during the Christian era—in early morning light as colorful hot air balloons dot the blue skies. Following breakfast, we explore the rock-hewn churches of Gőreme, the colorful volcanic-ash landscapes, and the unique fairy chimneys—eroded by wind and water over thousands of years—before returning to Uchisar to photograph at sunset. (BLD)
Day 10
We have another day to explore the scenic villages and valleys of Cappadocia and also to photograph the hot air balloons over the extreme terrain Cappadocia from a great angle. Tonight, we will go to a whirling dervish ceremony. (BLD)
Day 11
En route to Antalya, we photograph at a well-preserved 13th-century caravansary at Sultanhani and stop in Konya, home of the whirling dervishes, where we visit the museum of Mevlana Rumi—the founder of dervish philosophy. We continue over the scenic Toros Mountains to Antalya, situated on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. Our hotel is a charming combination of restored historic Ottoman houses located in Old Antalya. (BLD)
Day 12
Early morning departure for the impressive ruins of Perge and the best-preserved Roman theatre in the world at Aspendos. In the afternoon, we have free time to explore the narrow streets of Old Antalya and the harbor. (BLD)
Day 13
We drive to Kusadasi by way of an old mountain road and fields with colorful poppies. This is a scenic drive with photo stops on the way frım the Mediterranean Sea to the Aegean Sea. We will also have a possibility to make a short stop at Pamukkale to photograph the scenic natural calcium deposit terraces. Our hotel offers a grand view over the Aegean Sea. (BLD)
Day 14
This morning we will photograph the best-preserved Roman city of Ephesus offering also an opportunity to photograph nesting storks on top of the ancient aqueduct, in the nearby town of Selcuk. We photograph the winding cobblestone streets and traditional architecture in the pastoral mountain village of Sirince. In the late afternoon, we will have time to rest. (BLD)
Day 15
We transfer to Izmir for our flight to Istanbul. Afternoon photography at Hagia Sophia (BLD)
Day 16 (May 26)
Depart on flights home at any time today. (B)
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information


May 11, 2024 - May 26, 2024

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits we accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days prior to departure and may be paid by check or bank transfer. If you wish to make your final payment with a credit card a 3% convenience fee will be charged.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation. Based on the cancellation date the following apply:

Trip deposits are non-refundable.
150-91 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 50% of the total trip cost.
90-61 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 75% of the total trip cost.
Within 60 days of the start of the trip: No refund.

If, on the trip start date, your space has been resold and the tour is full—as designated by “Limit” number of travelers on the tour website page—we will refund your payment, minus the non-refundable trip deposit and any discounts given to resell your space.

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

We strongly encourage you to protect your travel investment and purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. We can provide travel insurance options, or it can be purchased online. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available. Trip participants without travel protection insurance are considered “self-insured.” Without insurance you assume all risks and losses for any conditions requiring your cancellation.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you, or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health, including viral illnesses, occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, and applicable health advisories. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or email address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or email messages to info@photosafaris.com.

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific details that are included in your trip fee. Generally, these include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch, or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, internal tour air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages, and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry, or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Most of our trips are priced in double occupancy (shared) accommodations. Single accommodation is available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodation or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations, and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins, or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea is included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two people traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motor coach, automobile, van, boat, ship or aircraft or any other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics, pandemics and outbreaks, or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non -refundable air tickets, visa fees, travel insurance premiums and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure or disease outbreak in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 4) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 5) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A signed Registration Form with the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be returned by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington.

I have read, understand, and agree to the terms, conditions, and provisions of the enrollment information, as stated on the Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris website and the Enrollment Conditions section of this form, especially noting the policy on cancellations, refunds, and limitations on responsibility.

I am aware that during any trip or tour that I am voluntarily participating in under the arrangements of Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., a Washington corporation, and its employees, agents and associates, certain risks and dangers exist while traveling in the United States, foreign countries, and wilderness areas in any country or territory that include the possibility of property damage, bodily injury, and death. There is a possibility of accident or illness occurring without access to immediate or timely medical treatment or facilities. There is a risk of tropical or communicable diseases that may require quarantine and removal from the tour at my expense, food-related illnesses, the risk of personal injury and property damage or delay or inconvenience by forces of nature, wildlife or wildlife models, quarantine, political instability, acts of terrorism, strikes, government restrictions or regulations change, thefts, and the risk of accidents during travel while on foot or by aircraft, train, automobile, van, bus, boat, ship, or other conveyance. I understand that such risks cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of this trip or tour. In consideration of, and as part payment for the right to participate in such trips, tours and/or other activities and services arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates, I have and do hereby assume all risks, and hereby release Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents and associates, and will hold them harmless from any and all liability, actions, causes of actions, debts, claims, and demands of every kind and nature, howsoever caused, which I now have or which may arise of or in connection with any of my trips or tours and participation in any activities arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this Agreement, I agree to indemnify them and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, I agree to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington and further agree that the substantive law of that state shall apply in that action without regard to the conflict-of-law rules of that state. The terms hereof shall serve as a release and assumption of all risk for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, and for all members of my family.

If any part, article, paragraph, sentence, or clause of this Agreement is not enforceable, the affected provision shall be curtailed and limited only to the extent necessary to bring it within the requirements of the law, and the remainder of the Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

I acknowledge that if anyone is hurt or property is damaged during my participation in this activity, I may be found by a court of law to have waived my right to maintain a lawsuit against Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents, and associates, based on any and all claims from which I have released them.

Turkey: Moderate Activity Level

Minibus transportation. Easy walking on old city streets and scenic villages, in mosques, markets, and archaeological sites. Expect to walk a mile or two (total) on most days. A 1:30 AM departure to Mt. Nemrut. A moderately challenging half-hour hike uphill, using headlamps, on a well-worn earthen and rocky trail for sunrise photography of the giant statues and open-air temple built in the first century at an elevation of 7,054 feet.
Trip Details
May 11 - May 26, 2024
Fee: $6,995 from Istanbul, Turkey
Deposit: $1,500
Limit: 12 participants
Activity Level: ModerateModerate

Single Room Supplement: $1,080
  • Explore some of Turkey’s most photogenic locations—exotic Istanbul, the fascinating geologic formations of Cappadocia, stunning architecture and ancient Roman ruins
  • Our accommodations include a unique cave hotel carved from volcanic rock and historic Ottoman houses
  • Trip timed for potential wildflower bloom and classic fields of red poppies
Tour Leaders
Mehmet Özbalci

Mehmet Özbalci

"Mehmet was amazing…patient, organized, professional and able to help us get incredible shots by taking us 'beyond the chain'"
—Cathryn P.

"Tour was very well planned, every detail, the food and lodging was great and Mehmet's knowledge of the regions visited was incredible."
—Peter C.