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Tour of Ephesus and House of Mary

This was my fourth trip to Ephesus. Ertunga was amazing. I learned more about Ephesus and its history then the three previous trips. Ergunga was so knowledgeable and helpful. One of our companions had injured himself prior to our cruise and used a scooter. Ertunga and our driver were great about getting him around to see as much as was possible. We had a great Turkish lunch outside in a covered garden. Ertunga has the best tour of Ephesus and surrounding sites!

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When Your Tour Guide Becomes Family…

“Tour guides come in all shapes, sizes, budgets, personalities and capabilities. There’s the good, the could be better, the boring and then there’s an unexpected one that comes along who is unforgettable.

Ertunga Ecir. Just by the name alone, it’s already hard to forget something so unique.
For 10 days, he, together with our trusty driver, Mustafa showed our family a trip of a lifetime. The family is composed of different personalities: elderly, teen, easy-going and the history nerd. So you can imagine the diverse dynamic that a tour guide must appease.

I could go on for days what an excellent tour guide he is but let me list down a couple of high notes:

Ertunga is highly intuitive. He can sense when he needs to extensively share his wealth of knowledge or stay mum.

My sister worked seamlessly with his wife, Maria to create an itinerary that brought us smoothly and safely from Izmir to Pamukkale to Antalya to Cappadocia and Istanbul, to name a few.

We only wanted to eat at local places, not the typical tourist stops or nothing fancy. Every restaurant he brought us to were excellent choices: comforting home made Turkish cuisine in Bergama or a resto with a breathtaking view by the sea in Dogan Bey.

Ertunga is very easy going. Some tourist guides will have you feeling rushed and give you a sense they just want to get it over with. Not him, he was very patient with every whim we wanted.

However, he is also fun!

I like to take videos and silly photos for social media and he was happy to join in the silliness like when he and I pretended to be gladiators fighting in a Roman coliseum in Miletos or when we shook hands like the politicians did in Regnum Hotel for the G20 Summit in Antalya, to name a few.

Ertunga knows when to turn on or off the tour guide button. When needed, he taught us about history and another minute he is chatting with us about the little things in life.

He never once took us to those tourist shops where tour guides get commission. He never pressured us to go to such places. He shared that even when he tours on his own to various places, he doesn’t like that. So he would never practice such things that he himself doesn’t like.

He is thoughtful. I has asked Ertunga to help me find dried figs at a local price. One time he had surprised me with a big bag without questions asked.

During dad’s birthday dinner at the Old Town in Antalya, he and Mustafa got the staff to sing happy birthday and even surprised us with a cake!

He is very helpful beyond his duties as a tour guide: from helping get a discount at tourist shops or making phone call arrangements for us in Turkish that we needed assistance with and even following up on his own.

Ertunga knew his boundaries. When you spend 10 days with someone, some boundaries can blur out. Yet he never made us feel that despite how close we became that he overstepped his bounds of comfort with our family.

We never felt taken advantage of. He was always very transparent with prices, negotiating and planning. What you see is what you get with Ertunga and that is rare to find in a tour guide, especially in a freelance business where one understandably tries to make the most of whatever opportunities come in.

He is very flexible. Despite a set itinerary, be it the change of weather, tourist attractions being suddenly closed, crowded or whatnot, he was very quick to adjusting to make sure the day was productive and enjoyable.

His team of tour guides scattered all throughout Turkey were no less than excellent as well. From Sibel in Cappadocia, to Ali and Akin in Istanbul, his recommendations made us feel that even if he was no longer our tour guide in the latter part of our trip, he was still very much present.

In fact, he still kept communicating with us daily to ask how our tour was doing.

He and Maria make a great team as they respond quickly to emails, texts and phone calls. Very efficient and easy to coordinate with.

It came to a point where, despite my family being quite reserved and private, we were all teasingly calling one other brother and sister and to my parents, mother and father.
Our nearly 3 weeks in Turkey left us bonded stronger and with more historical trivia to last quite awhile.

To end this, I told Ertunga, “what you have is a gift and can never learn in tour guide school. The way you connect with people is sincere. You are the benchmark of excellence for all future tour guides I will encounter! Now it will be so hard to top that, hahaha!!!””

Highly recommended is an understatement as he is more than just an excellent tour guide, he is a good man. We miss him and Mustafa and will forever consider them both, FAMILY.

PS: To be honest, this is the first review I’ve ever posted on Trip Advisor. Never once have I felt so moved to make one because Ertunga’s services are just that exemplary.


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Tour of Ephesus

We had a fabulous tour with Ertuga! So knowledgable in the history and people. We learned so much and were in awe of this spectacular site. Thank you for making this tour so personal and enjoyable.

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Customized Tour of Ephesus Terrace Houses and Sirinci Village

As we’d visited Ephesus previously, we wanted to spend most of our time at the more recently opened Terrace Houses and a local village. A friend highly recommended Ertunga Ecir to us. He promptly answered email questions before we met. He was a friendly, very knowledgeable guide who arranged to smoothly meet our requests. His English is strong. The vehicle he used was large enough for 6 people and the driver was very good. Ertunga’s private tours are excellent!

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Turkish Delight!

Ertunga picked up the 10 of us at the dock. Off we went to Ephesus (45 min drive) When we arrived, tickets were already looked after and then we proceeded into the historic site. We found that his passion and knowledge of the ruins was excellent. After Ephesus, we drove and hung out in Sirince (a small Turkish village) and observed many local customs. We also purchased some delicious Turkish wine. Next we were whisked away to a native turkish home and we had an authentic home cooked meal. This was definitely the highlight. Lastly we were dropped off at the Bazaar, where we enjoyed some shopping before going back to the ship. Be careful…the merchants everywhere we went in Turkey were very aggressive. Overall, I would say that our time here was Safe and Eventful. Next time we will be visiting Istanbul and look forward to another exciting Turkish Adventure

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Ertunga Ecir gave us a Great day in Ephesus

We had found Ertunga Ecir listed on the Internet with very good reviews. He lived up to all of them. He tailored our day in the Ephesus area to our desires and not to a packaged tour.He arrived with a driver and took us directly to the archaeological site of Ephesus. He accompanied us to the site and then the fun began.

Before we entered the site, he briefly reviewed the history of the place. That helped to set it in context. He had obviously done his research. Then he took us through the site pointing out many features that we would not have noticed and explaining many customs that we would not have known about. He never seemed to be in a hurry. He made Ephesus come alive for us.

He did the same thing at the Basilica of St. John.

He found a very nice restaurant for lunch that was very reasonably priced. He joined us for lunch which was delightful. We got know little bit about his family, about life in Turkey, etc. He took us up to a small village in the mountains and let us wander. We had a delightful time in the shops, stopping at a hotel terrace for tea.

His English was excellent. He was open to our interests and made the day delightful. We will book with him again if we ever get to that area again. We strongly recommend him as a guide. If you really want to understand Ephesus and living in turkey, just get him talking.

Visited October 2015


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Kusadasi private tour, alternative to Ephesus

Having already been to Ephesus, this cruise visit we arranged a private tour with Ertunga Ecir to visit Didyma, Miletus and Priene, all located just South of Kusadasi and easily covered in roughly 6 hours. Excellent tour, interesting historical sites with great explanation.

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A simply remarkable adventure!

We really enjoyed Turkey! Thank you SO MUCH for bringing the ruins to life! You have such palpable passion in what you do, I wish we can take you with us in our other travels; listening to you relate the history and put sense into it all is just wonderful and very educational.

I wish we have more time and money to explore the rest of Turkey, it is truly beautiful – both country and people!! You are so lucky to live there and know all of its significance; glad we found you . I told Maria, as much as I would love to ask you both to help us plan for our next Turkey visit (of everything else that we haven’t seen), we have to save up money and vacation hours first. In the meantime, you have to plan for your US visit . You all are more than welcome to stay with us if you visit Washington DC; we’ll definitely show you around

Feedback…here goes.
My husband and I recently did a 10-day Turkey tour early October 2015. So I/we wanted to go especially to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Pamukkale; other places include Hierapolis, Miletus, etc. Due to the multi-city itinerary with some of the places 1-2 hours (or more!) away from the airport, I decided to go with a private tour to ensure we have a ride to/from the airport/hotel/sites and of course, a private guide all to ourselves. I believe that going to a place without knowing the history/culture defeats the purpose of the travel. Mere photos are meaningless without the story behind them. Hence, I thought a tour guide is worth investing. I found this agency through Trip Advisor with all its high marks and great reviews(!). I got in touch with Ertunga’s wife Maria right from the start (~3 months in advance) and she helped me so much in getting the itinerary straight. Most of the time she is very prompt in responding, patient, and very flexible as well. Because PayPal fee was a lot, I paid via Western Union which was probably out of their way, but they never complained; and it worked out pretty well. When we arrived in Istanbul, someone was already waiting for us at the airport, and we had our own private van(!) that my husband was surprised we didn’t have to share with anyone at all . En route to the hotel, Maria called (the driver) to make sure we arrived safely, and informed me of the plan for the next day’s tour. I thought that was very thoughtful of her. Maria is very well organized and is very professional. All this follow up calls were consistent until we reached Kusadesi (as her husband Ertunga came to pick us).

In Istanbul, Ugur (all the while I thought his name was Onur, sorry) was our tour guide, who picked us up PROMPTLY at the hotel with the private van (a very presentable & fairly new VW). We however, had a little hiccup at the beginning of our tour – there were NO museum/site passes available anywhere(!). We ended up walking from one site to the next and back looking for a pass which we thought took some of our tour time but I didn’t think it was anybody’s fault; the city simply has a lot of tourists . And we were still able to see everything as scheduled. Ugur is very easy going and wonderful, as well as down to earth. He related the history/significance of each place fairly well, including some of his personal experiences in the city. And he had also read Dan Brown’s Inferno so I think he can relate to my excitement. I would have loved it if the day’s tour also included Chora Church, Bosphorus cruise, and maybe Dolmabahçe Palace though I am not certain how feasible it would be to fit it all in 1 day. Also, I don’t know if it would be possible to purchase the museum/site pass the day before to avoid recurrence of the above incident. But these are only my suggestions. Ugur taught us how to use the public transport (funekuler and tram) and we were able to roam around independently thereafter. Maria was also nice & honest enough to recommend watching the belly dancing/whirling dervish in Cappadocia as well as the Turkish bath as they tend to be overpriced in Istanbul.

In Cappadocia, again we were met with a private driver Mehmet who was SO kind and humble(!); & we had our private ride – a Mercedes! We had a late flight, and arrived at our cave hotel (1 hour away) around midnight. En route, Çihan (our tour guide) called to ensure our safe arrival, as well as confirmed our itinerary for the day starting w/ a hot air balloon ride at 0500(!) which was an amazing experience ! Çihan was very nice and accommodating as well, they were very prompt (that we were caught finishing our breakfast) and professional, and very considerate of our time. He discussed the plan for the day, made sure we see the nice views, explained how things/sites evolved, etc. Though my husband and I were not so sure how the tours in Cappadocia were supposed to be, we noticed mostly he would just explain things at the beginning, walk with us initially, and the rest of the time we were on our own exploring and taking photos; in the meantime, he would wait with the driver until we were done. The next day he was booked for another group, so we had another tour guide, also named Mehmet, and he was wonderful! He is slightly reserved, simple, and low key, but very well informed answering all of our questions, and truthful with his views. He has passion for the outdoors and what is beyond the usual and predictable routes which is cool! We got to see more than what a regular tourist would (or so we think ).
After Cappadocia, we flew to Izmir excited to see the ruins and hear from the ‘tour master’ himself, at the same time uncertain whether this was really worth the cost. I told my husband (not of the total cost ) of the high ratings and the great feedbacks people have expressed re: this tour agency. Ertunga met us at the airport himself as we planned to start the tour right away. He seemed a little intimidating at first UNTIL he started talking; we then can’t keep our ears off of him. He is very knowledgeable in the history of every ancient city we visited (and beyond). His passion is so palpable that I think it would do him injustice to transplant him to another country. As previous reviews pointed out he is very considerate that he always finds a shade when he explains things, that is so true and I appreciate it very well…though honestly I think he hates the heat too just like us . As my husband is vegetarian, he always makes sure that the place we’re going to for lunch has a good selection (or a tasty dish) for him. Since he found out I love donër, on our last day we explored the city of Didima for any donër, he wanted me to savor it again. With Ertunga, he makes every effort so we can be comfortable, so we can find stuff we need (camera memory card, grocery, etc), he is consistently prompt in every meeting…bottom line, Ertunga took very good care of us when we were there. With this trip, we not only gained knowledge of his country and the people, but we gained a friend for life as well! Thank you Ertunga, Maria, and everyone above named, for everything! You all are simply wonderful!

Vanessa and Steve

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Private tour that feels like family

When traveling and sight-seeing I always prefer arranging a private tour because one, it saves me a great deal of time and second, it makes the experience truly personal.

It was my first time in Turkey along with my sister. We were on a 6-day trip (Istanbul-Kusadasi-Cappadocia) and getting the best Turkiye experience lies on booking the best private tour we can find. Turkey Tours (ertungaecir.com) gained most top ratings and rave reviews from tripadvisor so we went ahead.

I had a lot of email exchanges at the beginning with Maria Ecir – booking queries, optional tours, even small questions, but she was not only patient but very prompt in replying, sometimes even real time. Above all, she was very transparent and honest when I ask her opinions- no hardsell. That for me was very encouraging. The price of the whole tour was very reasonable. We were impressed with the hotels assigned to us and we were attended to all they way, there was never a moment we felt like we are left on our own.

We met Ertunga, who was our guide in the Ephesus leg of our trip, and we were instantly treated like family. He has a vast knowledge of history and has a very intesting way of narrating stories that gets us amused everytime – facts that are usually not on history books. But what I appreciated the most is how he goes out of his way to assist us with our personal travel issues.

When you leave a country you traveled and can count only the best of memories, both places and people, you know you made the right choice. I am so happy I came across Ertunga Ecir. I am now on the plane, flying home but already thinking of going back to Turkey with Ertunga.


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kusadasi private tour

Everything went perfect. very interesting and the guide was very helpful and very experienced in the history subjects. 100% recomended
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