Our most elusive trip to Turkey finally happened and it was a dream come true! After researching and putting this trip together for several months, I was expecting a magical trip and that is exactly what I got. Turkey lived up to every expectation I had and if it isn’t a country on your travel living list, I hope the series of posts I’ll be publishing will inspire you to include it.
I’ll also be sharing a cost breakdown at the end of the series. While this was not a particularly budget trip, I will highlight ways to cut down costs if you plan to travel on a lower budget.
What's Covered in this Post
Turkey – Discovering the Potential…
Turkey (and Georgia) were supposed to be our honeymoon destinations but the pandemic happened and all our plans were cancelled. In May this year, we attempted to visit again, but my Turkish visa did not come out in time despite applying weeks in advance.
My US visa also expired, which meant that I couldn’t get an evisa to Turkey and Georgia was out of the plan. #NigerianPassportProblems
Eventually, I received my Turkish visa in June and after a few months of planning, we were on our way to spend 10 wonderful days in Istanbul and Cappadocia.
Planning the Trip…
I went into full planning mode for this trip several months before our travel date. I don’t think I have ever spent this much time planning any of my trips in the past! Turkey has a number of interesting cities to visit and in our original plan, we were going to visit Istanbul, Cappadocia and Kars. I also had my sights set on cities like Bodrum, Antalya and Pamukkale.
However, with our new plan, I decided to limit our travels to the first two cities and probably save the others for a later trip. We spent 6 nights in Cappadocia and 4 in Istanbul, and I will be writing all about our experiences in the next few posts.
Booking Accommodations & Activities…
For accommodation, we booked all stays via booking.com. If you plan to visit, Airbnb is also a good resource, however, we wanted the flexibility to be able to cancel or adjust our bookings and booking.com gave us that. It was particularly handy when I didn’t get my visa in May.
Getting a Visa to Turkey as a Nigerian Citizen…
Getting a visa to Turkey was very interesting for me. I even got suspended from using the website! If you’re a Nigerian citizen with a US, UK or Schengen visa or resident permit to these countries/zones, you’re permitted to get an e-visa and it could take seconds to obtain. But if you don’t meet these requirements, you need to apply for a sticker visa.
For that, you need to log on to the Turkey Visa website, fill out an application form and schedule an interview or appointment. It seemed pretty straightforward for me until it was time to get the appointment. All the dates were blank and the website was often unresponsive. It was also almost impossible for me to find a detailed post online that talked about applying for a visa from Kenya.
Having experienced a similar situation while trying to apply for an Indian visa, I decided to try accessing the site at different times of the day. One evening, I tried accessing the site using my browser in incognito mode. After my first attempt, I got this message and my heart froze!
Reported to the authorities? Yikes! At this point, I could see my Turkey dreams fading away. Luckily, I summoned up the courage a few days later to check the site again and saw that I could access it. Nevertheless, I did not try booking an appointment anymore. Instead, I decided to risk a walk-in at the embassy.
I’ve written a separate post about my experience with the Turkey visa application. I applied for my visa in Nairobi, however, the post also details the application process if you live in Nigeria.
Visiting Turkey During Covid…
As we planned this trip, I caught up on regular news updates from the country. Between impromptu lockdowns and raging wildfire outbreaks from April to August, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to visit this year. However, I kept my hopes high and having received the complete dose of the covid vaccine, I was quite optimistic about travelling internationally.
By mid-August, things began to look up. The wildfires had been controlled and Turkey was out of lockdown. By mid-September, we arrived in Istanbul.
While we were in the country, we tried to apply all safety precautions – including wearing a face mask and washing our hands/using hand sanitiser regularly. We also did a PCR test before arrival and during departure back to Kenya. At the time we visited Turkey, proof of full vaccination was accepted without presenting a PCR test certificate. We did the test regardless.
In Kenya, we had our tests done at home by Ponea Health for about $60 each and in Turkey, we got it done at our hotel for $30 each.
Flying Turkish Airlines to Turkey (Istanbul and Cappadocia)
The easiest and fastest way to get to Turkey is via a direct flight to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. This was my second time flying with them and, just like the first time, it was a very pleasant experience. The flight from Nairobi to Turkey is just under 7 hours – about the same as flying from Nigeria.
Once we arrived at the airport, we went through immigration before getting into our connecting 1-hour flight to Nevşehir.
PS: the line for domestic transfers is much shorter than that of arrivals into Istanbul. So if you plan to do this trip, going to Cappadocia first before visiting Istanbul is a good idea.
A Couple More Things to Note about Visiting Turkey…
You would need to book your hotels beforehand – Airbnb and booking.com do not work in Turkey. Perhaps they might if you use a VPN but to be safe, try to prebook your first few nights at least. You may also need to download the Uber or Bitaksi and Maps.me apps but I’ll talk more about these in subsequent posts.
Finally, you would need to fill out an online health form, found here, before you arrive in Turkey and this one, before your arrival in Kenya. In addition, if you’re travelling from JKIA, Nairobi, you need a PCR test and QR code certificate from this site.
All in all, it was a very exciting trip and I can’t wait to show you Turkey through my eyes. I hope you’ll stick around for the ride! 🙂
What would you like to know about Turkey and/or our trip? Please leave your comments in the comment section below and I’ll be sure to include details in the coming posts…