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Hellespont Week Tour (Istanbul, Gallipoli and Troy)

TRIP OVERVIEW

7 days
Swim Races & Event
4km/day
Moderate

Tour Highlights

  • Enjoy a multicity tour discovering the best of Turkey

  • Compete in the WORLD'S OLDEST SWIM in the annual 'Victory Day' Hellespont swimming race in Canakkale, Turkey

  • Enjoy tours of Istanbul, Gallipoli and Troy

  • Enjoy a truly unique experience as one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes is closed for the race

  • Meet and swap stories with fellow open water swimmers from all over the world

Hellespont and Dardanelles: THE WORLD’S OLDEST SWIM. It’s been said that you can’t call yourself a true open water swimmer until you’ve completed this historic cross-continental swim from Europe to Asia in Turkey. From the challenge of the swim itself to the region’s incredible history, this event is a must-do for open water swimmers from around the globe. We’re thrilled to offer the chance to complete this epic race as part of a wider trip which will see us exploring around Troy as well as Istanbul.

This extended Hellespont Race trip begins in Istanbul, with time to explore Turkey’s largest city before travelling to the historic region of Troy. There’s also time to visit Canakkale’s significant war sites and ancient archaeological ruins, before taking on your swim challenge.

No other open water challenge in the world combines as much history, prestige, romance and bragging rights into a single swim as the legendary crossing of the Dardanelles strait, as one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world is closed for the annual ‘Victory Day’ race.

The Legendary Swim

The Hellespont is celebrated in the ancient Greek myth as the strait that Leander swam across to reach his lover Hero. It was officially swum for the first time by the famous poet, Lord Byron, in 1810 and the crossing also holds a special place in SwimTrek’s history as the swim which prompted our fearless founder, Simon Murie, to set up a pioneering open water swimming company, in 2003.

Entries for this iconic event are strictly limited and SwimTrek is the sole provider of all race places for non-Turkish residents. Be quick to secure your place on this unforgettable swimming event in 2020!

Who is this trip for?

This trip is designed for those who are looking combine a swim race with additional travel around Turkey. The trip allows guests to visit multiple cities and take in different types of tours, from war memorials to archaeological sites. The Hellespont and Dardanelles crossing is a significant open water swim of 4½ km between Europe and Asia. Conditions during the event may be challenging and swimmers should have a good understanding of open water swimming. They should be capable of swimming 4½ km in the open water and be comfortable swimming in choppy waters and currents prior to the start of the trip.

What's included?

  • Six nights accommodation
  • All breakfasts
  • Welcome Drink
  • Lunch on Day 3
  • Post-race celebration and dinner on Day 5
  • Guided Tour of Istanbul
  • Guided Tour of Gallipoli
  • Guided Tour of Troy
  • Travel to and from the start of the tour
  • Lunches (except Day 3)
  • Evening meals (except the post-race meal)



Related Trips

Daily Itineraries

*Please note that the above itinerary is subject to change during the course of your trip.

Day 1

Hotel Check-In

Upon arrival in Istanbul, we will meet at our hotel for a two-night stay. You can then spend the rest of the day exploring the city and experiencing the local Turkish culture.

Day 2

Today we enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town of Istanbul. Huge monuments and mega structures that were constructed many centuries ago still impress tourists today. While unrest and war has altered many of the core sights over the centuries, Old Town Istanbul has remained an amazing melting pot of cultures and architecture that you can't find anywhere else.

Day 3

Today we check out of our hotel and transfer by road towards Canakkale by road with breakfast on the way. We’ll arrive in the small coastal town of Eceabat around midday and head directly to a small local restaurant for lunch. After lunch we depart for our fully guided Gallipoli tour. Highlights of the tour include Anzac Cove, Jonston’s Jolly and Lone Pine Australian Cemetery. We’ll return to Eceabat in the late afternoon before taking the ferry across the Dardanelles Strait to Canakkale. Upon arrival in Canakkale, you can check in to your hotel and spend the rest of the day exploring the city and enjoy a late evening stroll along Canakkale’s promenade.

Day 4

Acclimatisation Swim & Race Meeting (Compulsory)

On the morning of Day 4, there will be a welcome briefing as well as an acclimatisation swim on a private beach, a short walk out of Canakkale’s bustling centre. This is a great chance for you to get used to the swimming conditions.

Boat Tour & Race Briefing (Compulsory)

It is important that you join us on the boat tour & safety briefing as it your opportunity to travel the swim route, see the swim start point and hear suggested strategies for your crossing.

Race Registration (Compulsory)

At the race registration, you will be given your swim hats and timing chips in preparation for the next morning’s swim. Please note that registration is compulsory in order to take part in the event.

Day 5

HELLESPONT RACE

For further information about the Hellespont and Dardanelles Swim Race, please see the below section about ‘Race Information’.

Awards Ceremony

The official race awards ceremony will take place near the race finish sometime after the race finishes.

Post-Race Dinner

A post-race celebratory dinner will be held for all SwimTrek guests, including non-swimmers. This is a fantastic opportunity to kick back and relax after completing an epic open water swim and to chat with your fellow swimmers about your Hellespont experience.

Day 6

This morning we start the day with a tour of the ancient city of Troy. This tour offers up the chance to see incredible mythological and archaeological sites, where legend and history blend into one. Highlights of the tour include visiting the centuries-old city walls and the Temple of Athena. From Troy we cross back over the Dardanelles strait one last time and drive up the coast of the Gallipoli Peninsula to Istanbul for our final night.

Day 7

After breakfast, we’ll say our final goodbyes before checking out of our hotel.

Trip Schedule

Start Point: Istanbul, Turkey

Start Date: 26 August 2020

Finish Point: Istanbul, Turkey

Finish Date: 1 September 2020

Race Information

Pre-Race Medical (Compulsory)

The race organisers require a signed medical form from a doctor/medical practitioner prior to the race. This form will be forwarded to all participants after they have completed their booking.

Race Distance

The total distance of the Hellespont swim is approximately 4½km, however, the swim is current-assisted, which makes it equivalent to swimming approximately 3-3½ km.

Race Time

The Hellespont is a major strait dividing Europe and Asia. As a natural body of open water, it is affected by local weather conditions, which can vary considerably from one day to the next. In order to complete the swim in the most favourable conditions, there are two different options for when the race may take place. The preferred option is to conduct the race on Sunday 30 August at 08:30, however, in the unlikely event that conditions are so unfavourable that the race time is changed, then it will be run on Monday 31 August at 08:30. On Friday 28 August, the event committee will meet and will make a decision about when the race will take place. If neither of the above options are suitable, an alternative coastal swim will be organised and you will be offered a reduced entry for the Hellespont event the following year.

Race Time Limit

There is a time limit of two hours to complete the race. For safety reasons, any swimmers who do not complete the race before this time will be removed from the water and escorted back to land by the Turkish Coast Guard.

Race Equipment

Swimmers are allowed to wear wetsuits during the crossing, however, please note that using a wetsuit will mean that you are ineligible for any of the race awards. As of 2020, participants are not permitted to wear smart watches or smart bands during the race. Compulsory swim hats will be given out on the day of the race by the event organisers. You should also bring a swim costume, goggles and a towel.

Race Organisers

Please note that while SwimTrek organise the tour part of this package, the Canakkale Rotary Club are the organisers of the swim and are fully responsible for race safety, logistics and contingency planning.

Trip Information

Equipment Checklist

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x2) Waterproof Sun Cream
Swimming Goggles* (x2) Towel
Sunhat and Sunglasses Small Daypack

*Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions.

Group Size and Boat Support

The Hellespont and Dardanelles crossing is a mass start event. Boat support on this trip includes a flotilla of small boats arranged by the event organiser, some of which SwimTrek guides will be aboard. Please note that this boat support is subject to change without notice and cannot be guaranteed.

Swimming Conditions

Swimming in the sea is a fantastic experience, however you should be aware that certain marine life such as sea lice, jellyfish, sea urchins and coral could be present during the swims. In all cases we will work on reducing your contact with these creatures, however if you suffer from anaphylaxis, please consult the office prior to booking.

Temperatures

Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
August 23-25°C / 73-77°F 29-32°C / 84-90°F

*Please note that these temperatures are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, the event organisers rely on decent weather conditions in order to carry out the swim. In the event of bad weather and the swim being cancelled, there are no reserve/alternative times or days available after August 31st.

Getting There

Istanbul is a popular travel destination and there are a wide range of scheduled flights operating to the city’s two main airports, Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, from all around the world. While we have outlined various travel options below, they are subject to change and should be used as a guide only. We suggest that you use Skyscanner to search for alternative flight options for this trip. Whichever route you choose to take, we recommend confirming your flights and other travel arrangements as early as possible in order to avoid price rises and availability issues.

Flights to Istanbul Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gokcen (SAW) Airport

To search for available flights into the two major airports in Istanbul, please visit Skyscanner.

Private Transfer from Istanbul Airport to Hotel

If you would like to book a private transfer from Istanbul Airport to your hotel, this can be arranged via our partners in Turkey; Wilusa Travel.

Taxi from Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Hotel

Taxis are readily available from both Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Istanbul city centre for approximately €25 - €30 (160TRY - 200TRY).

Public Transport from Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gokcen Airport to Hotel

The cheapest way to get from both airports into the centre of Istanbul is by using public transport, although this can be a more complicated option. From Istanbul Airport, central Istanbul is currently only reachable by public transport through IETT buses or HAVAIST shuttles. For further information on public transport from both airports, please visit IETT.

The city has a well-renowned metro and tram system, However, the new metro line (M11) from Istanbul Airport to Levent in central Istanbul, is currently under construction. It is due to be completed in late 2020 and should provide much shorter journey times.

Practical Information

Accommodation

Your SwimTrek booking includes six nights’ accommodation from Wednesday 26 August - Tuesday 1st September 2020 at the following hotels:

Hotel Start Rating Location
3-Star Istanbul City Centre
3-Star Canakkale City Centre

Accommodation is based on twin share rooms with en suite facilities, on a bed and breakfast basis. There are a limited number of single supplement rooms which can be reserved during the booking process, subject to availability.

Pre/Post Trip Accommodation and Trip Extension Options

If you require additional nights’ accommodation before or after your SwimTrek trip, this can be arranged via our partners Wilusa Travel. There are many activities and tours to enjoy in Istanbul which can be booked locally if extending your trip before and after the tour.

Supporters Package

There are a limited number of supporters packages available which include shared accommodation with a race participant, as well as entry into all non-swimming events. We cannot guarantee that supporters will be able to travel to the start of the race on the European side, however, in previous years this has usually been possible. In general, it is more advisable for spectators to stay on the Asian side and view the race from the finish line.

Food and Drink

All breakfasts are included as part of your trip price, as well as lunch on Day 3 and the post-race celebration dinner on Sunday 30 August. All other meals are at your own expense, which gives you a fantastic opportunity to explore and experience the local cafes and restaurants of your choice over the course of your trip.

Extra Activities

Additional tours can be organised through our partners in Canakkale, Wilusa Travel, at an additional cost. For bookings or further information about these tours, as well as booking additional nights’ accommodation before or after your SwimTrek trip, please visit Wilusa Travel.

Money, Extra Expenses and Tipping

You should bring extra money with you to cover such items as entertainment, meals and any additional tours that you book during your time in Turkey. The local currency is the Turkish Lira (TRY) and ATMs are plentiful in Canakkale.

Passports and Visas

Turkey is not part of the European Union. Non-residents of Turkey require a full passport to enter the country, which should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay.

Please note: As of 2nd March 2020, UK and EU Citizens no longer require a visa to enter Turkey and stay for a period of up to 90 days. Citizens of other countries including the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand require a visa to enter Turkey. Most foreign nationals entering Turkey must purchase a visa before entering the country. It is important that you purchase your visa through the official website, www.evisa.gov.tr and avoid purchasing through third-party providers, as these can be considerably more expensive.

Please note that visa regulations are subject to change and we advise that you check your own visa requirements prior to travel. For a full list of visa requirements, please visit Turkish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Travel Insurance

We consider comprehensive travel insurance to be essential, and we strongly recommend that you purchase insurance which includes, but is not limited to, cover for illness, accident, emergency repatriation, ambulance, air ambulance, helicopter rescue services, cancellation, lost luggage and delays. Your travel insurance should also cover you for open water swimming and any other activity listed in your trip itinerary (including races and competitions, where applicable). Please read your policy details carefully and remember to take them with you on your trip for your own reference. For further information about travel insurance, please visit: www.swimtrek.com/travel-insurance.

Health Information and Recommended Vaccinations

For comprehensive health information for people travelling to Turkey, including all recommended and required vaccinations, please visit Travel Health Pro. Please note that this information is subject to change and you should re-check this site regularly prior to your trip.

Travel Plugs & Electricity

For a useful source of information on the different electrical outlets, electrical plugs, and electric sockets, please visit worldstandards.eu/.

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