My family ( 2 adults , 3 teenage children) organised a 2 day private tour of Gallipoli starting and finishing in Istanbul. This is an expensive option but well worth the money - AUD$2000 when all said and done.
We were picked up from our hotel at 7.30am and taken in a very comfortable minibus to Eceabat stopping for breakfast on the way. We arrived at Eceabat at lunch time. After lunch we drove with our guide Baris to a new interactive display of the Gallipoli campaigns. The presentation is designed to simulate some of the experiences of those envolved in those campaigns. Although in Turkish we were given electronic devices which enabled us to hear an English version. It was excellent.
We were then taken to the southern sector at Cape Helles.There we visited the massive memorials to the British and the Turks. Both are simple but very impressive. We also saw some of the landing beaches including V Beach. Now very beautiful but on 25 April 1915 a virtual slaughterhouse.On the return trip to Eceabat we stopped off at a small village for cay.
Although we could have had dinner at Eceabat we took the ferry to Canakalle where we ate in one of the many seaside restaurants. The ferry ride across the Dardenelles at dusk was very beautiful.
The next morning we toured the northern battlefields where the ANZACs fought. This time our guide was Hassan. We had time to walk along ANZAC Cove and Z Beach.This gives you an appreciation of just how difficult the terrain was. We then walked up towards the Baby 700 cemetery. We then visited the Lone Pine cemetery, the Nek and finally the magnificent Turkish monument at Chunuk Bair. You get an appreciation of the terrible conditions each side fought under. In a couple of places the trenches are only metres apart. Lone Pine is not much bigger than a soccer field.. Yet for 3 days thousands of men fought and died over this now tranquil place.
I cannot speak too highly of both our guides. Both Baris and Hassan are experienced, extremely knowledgeable,interesting and easy to deal with. They both have a passion for what they do. Each told the Gallipoli story from the Turkish as well as the Allied side. The Turks regard Gallipoli as hallowed ground as we do. It was really interesting to get that perspective.
RSL Tours did a fantastic job. It was even better than we anticipated.
Accomodation at Eceabat was basic. I think it might be best to stay in Canakalle.
Irealise that most will want to do a day trip from Istanbul but if you are able spend 2 days at Gallipoli.You won't be rushed.Try and give yourself time to walk in some of the cemetries. Seeing so many young men's lives wasted will break your heart.
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