Turkey Tour Leaders

Our Special Interest Tours have dedicated tour leaders that will travel with your group for the whole tour, sharing their unique knowledge and experiences along the way. At certain historical and cultural sites specialised Turkish tour guides will also lead the group imparting their expert knowledge.

Marcus Falay - Treasures of Asia Minor
Dr John Basarin - Gallipoli
Glenda and Peter Pekish - Pekish Silk Kilim
Jill Thompson - Jill's Cultural Encounter
Engin Aksac - Sailing Specialist
Alison Smith - ADA Gallipoli Tour
Cherie Clarke - ADA Gallipoli Tour
Alison Peake Istanbul Food Adventure, The Western Black Sea & North Central Anatolia, Cappadocia, Tigris & Euphrates Basin
Lisa Groom Goreme to Gallipoli
Michelle Jago Turkey to Remember

Marcus Falay has travel in his blood. A native-born Cappadocian, his joy in all things Turkish is nothing short of contagious. Since his first tour guiding experience, Marcus has looked for creative, inspiring and unusual ways to help visitors explore his homeland. He is the driving force behind Fairy Chimneys Travel and its unique selection of engaging in-house tours.

Fairy Chimneys Travel tour leader Marcus Falay

Growing up in Urgup, a youthful Marcus was keen to become a guide for his family’s boutique accommodation business. That chance arrived in 1986 with an AIESEC student group. Since then, Marcus has planned and led travel as varied as high school trips, government delegations, entire film crews and custom-designed tours.

After completing his tourism studies in 1994, Marcus became an official tour guide. In this career, he quickly discovered guiding is what he loves most about travel. A natural instinct to find new and exciting ways for visitors to Turkey quickly has always made his tours distinctive and popular. It is this approach he has brought to Fairy Chimneys Travel since 2001.

Now that Fairy Chimneys Travel has its own land operation in Turkey, Marcus is able to share his Turkey passion once more. From 2014, he will plan and lead a small number of exclusive tours personally. Those fortunate travellers will enjoy Marcus’ special brand of hospitality, in both Australia and Turkey. Lodged in the finest luxury boutique hotels and focused on a rich cultural experience, these personally planned tours are a new and exclusive Turkey travel experience.

Dr John Basarin

Gallipoli 2015

Fairy Chimneys Travel tour leader Dr John  Basarin

Dr John Basarin is Australia’s pre-eminent Gallipoli expert. For six years he has led evocative ANZAC Day tours to Turkey’s long silent battlefields. A popular speaker, Dr John’s extensive contributions to WWI history and Turkish-Australian culture have been acknowledged by 2010 ANZAC Peace Prize, 2005 Victorian Premier's Award for Excellence in Multicultural Affairs and participation in the AE2 Australian submarine project.

Born and raised in Turkey, Dr John settled in Melbourne during the early ‘70s. Although a successful engineering career took him around the world, his passion for travel, history and Turkey have always shone through. Dr John is the co-author of six books, including: Gallipoli-The Turkish Story, Beneath the Dardanelles and The Australian Submarine at Gallipoli.

Dr John has recently completed a doctorate degree at Deakin University, working with Prof John Hall. His PhD thesis was entitled “Battlefield Tourism: Anzac Day Commemorations at Gallipoli”, which relates to motives of attendance of Australians at the Anzac Day events at Gallipoli.

Members of Dr John’s ANZAC tours enjoy an insightful commentary that is both informative and undeniably human. Dr John leads our Gallipoli 2015 team arranging ANZAC centenary tours.

Glenda and Peter Pekish

Pekish Silk Kilim

Glenda and Peter Pekish, Turkey tour leaders

World travellers Peter and Glenda Pekish have a great love for all things Turkish. Having lived in Turkey and travelled to many remote historical sites, they guide visitors to savour delicious cuisine, marvel at history and embrace Turkey’s vibrant modern culture.

A native Turkish speaker, Peter was born and raised in Istanbul before migrating to Melbourne. He and Glenda, a librarian and ESL teacher, returned to live and work in Turkey during 2005. That made pursuing their interest and study of Turkish culture and historical sites possible. Several of these are among the fascinating places Peter and Glenda explore with tour members.

“We would love to show you the many interesting places and things that Turkey has to offer!”

Jill Thompson

fairy chimneys travel tour leader Jill Thompson

Jill has had itchy feet since the age of 20. It is a fascination with Turkey though, that combines her passions for travel, photography, bushwalking and life-long learning. A true global citizen, Jill has lived and worked on five continents. But Turkey reveals more each time she visits.

From tantalising glimpses of lost Roman and Greek worlds, to the astonishing city of Istanbul, Jill shares the rare natural wonders of Turkey’s landscape and culture. You will explore the world’s earliest human settlement, and perhaps great architectural feats of the early Christian and Ottoman Empires. Jill will guide and enlighten along the way.

Engin Aksac

Engin lived and worked in Turkey until 1980, before moving to Australia.

From 1983 to 2003 Engin taught Aussie kids in Melbourne Government Schools from Prep to VCE (Year12). During his teaching career, Engin was a school camp organiser and took students on educational trips to Gallipoli.

With Engin's deep understanding of Aussie and Turkish culture, he has developed a passion for showing his love of all things Turkish to Australian travellers. His enthusiasm is second to none and he will go out of his way to ensure that even clients with unique needs will leave Turkey with fond memories.

Engin specialises in sailing trips on the Marmara and Aegean Seas.

Alison Smith

Alison set off as a twenty-one year old for Nepal and India, then found her way to the UK; remarkably, she says, as she was little prepared for the adventure ahead. It being the seventies she saw places like Afghanistan, the Khyber Pass and Kashmir when it was relatively safe for travellers, when the cultures were intact and accessible, with little western influence. She recalls that on her first visit to Gallipoli, on a day when she was walking around the sites, she being the only foreigner, a local farmer walked from his farm to give her some apricots.

After returning to Australia Alison couldn’t believe her luck when she landed a job that enabled her to live overseas and travel frequently. She loves Turkey and all it has to offer, and has a particular interest in the textiles and rugs. She finds nothing more enjoyable and rewarding than assisting others see, hear, feel and of course taste the delights of beautiful Turkey.

Cherie Clarke

Cherie has laid the foundations and planned the ADA tour to Turkey to ensure the client gets a taste of all that Turkey offers, from its cuisine, crafts and its colourful culture. During her visits she has explored more and more of the intoxicating sights of Istanbul, and will ensure the group benefits from her extensive wanderings in the city, shopping and restaurant experiences.

Cherie has undertaken tourism studies and is very customer focused. She is skilled at striking the balance in offering both a comprehensive tour as well as developing an environment where each client has time to relax and enjoy new friendships and experiences. She is interested in Australian war history and has a strong interest in the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli.

Alison Peake

Alison has had a lifelong interest in travel

Alison has had a lifelong interest in travel and the experiences and adventures that are part of immersing yourself in other cultures. Living and working as far afield as Corfu, Italy, and the UK, as well as a brief stint crewing a yacht & cruising the Caribbean, she loves to get away from the road most travelled, mix it with the locals, experience the cuisine & local food culture and “get under the skin” of wherever her wanderlust takes her.

Early studies of Renaissance art led to a lifetime love affair with the city of Florence, a fascination with early explorers & traders on the Silk Route spawned travels in Turkey, all of which she references to create itineraries which get off the tourist trail to explore the real character of the destination and its’ people.

Artist, educator, inveterate traveller and dedicated foodie Alison’s interests include history & cultural context, photography, textiles and ceramics … to name just a few.

Creating the new concept “Casual Adventurer” tour category for Fairy Chimneys Travel Alison aims to add a new dimension to the existing tour offerings. Designed for travellers, rather than tourists, these tours are for people who see each day as an adventure and are not wanting to be constrained by highly structured itineraries. These are for those who want time to enjoy wandering the back streets of a town, taking tea with the locals, exploring & discovering for themselves, not simply completing a tick list of “must see” tourist sights with a “been there, done that” mentality. These are not 5 star tours, they are more “2 star with benefits” . Not for those who want a mini bar & CNN at the push of a button every night, but for those who crave the quirky and the interesting and for each day to bring new surprises. On one of these tours you may find yourself in a converted monastery, an ancient Anatolian house or in a village homestay sleeping on a rooftop. You may have to cope with occasional temperamental plumbing, but you are just as likely to be treated like a pasha feasting on local produce or being rubbed and scrubbed at a local hamam. You will see the real life of the local people, the countryside, historical sites dating from the Ottoman era to the Neolithic period, sites that saw the birth of civilization, and get a true understanding of the culture, the history and the people of this endlessly fascinating country. Whichever itinerary you choose it will be a trip to remember. But do beware: you are in danger of falling in love with the country and wanting to return.

Lisa Groom

Lisa Groom

Lisa Groom grew up on the edge of Lamington National Park in South East Queensland and has been hiking since she was 3 years old! Her family was involved in the creation and management of Binna Burra Lodge (now celebrating its 80th birthday). Lisa’s childhood was a mixture of exploring the rainforest around Binna Burra and watching her parents Tony & Connie develop interNATIONAL PARKtours (IPT) – a walking-focused tour company. Starting in 1975, IPT has operated group walking tours to every continent in the world. Day walks in national parks & wilderness areas are a key part of all journeys but local history, culture, food and wine also play a part in the design of each tour.

After studying business communication and working for YHA Australia, Lisa started guiding European journeys for IPT in 1991 and took over the family business in 2001. Her first visits to Turkey were in the early 1990s and Lisa always wanted to return to the country to develop a more walking oriented tour. This became a reality in 2012 when she created a new journey in conjunction with Fairy Chimneys and local walking guides. This 3 week journey explores some of the best day walks of Cappadocia, The St Paul Way and the Lycian Way. Of course we also take in the layers of history and the fascinating culture while meeting the local people along the way. Lisa looks forward to returning to Turkey again to explore the natural wonder of autumn.

Michelle Jago

Turkey to Remember

Michelle Jago in Cappadocia

Michelle is an Australian Tour Director who guides for various inbound operators within Australia and New Zealand. Michelle has also coordinated and traveled with Trade Missions to both China and Guam for economic development agencies as well as various incentive tours for a major Australian company. She has travelled extensively through China, Nepal and Tibet walking some of the well known treks of the Annapurna and Everest regions, and Tiger Leaping Gorge. Closer to home she has also trekked Tasmania’s Overland track and New Zealand’s Milford track. More recently, with husband Colin she has visited the WW1 battlefields of France, Belgium and Turkey. They attended the Anzac Day services at Gallipoli and toured much of Turkey in 2014.

Together with Fairy Chimneys Travel, Michelle and Colin have prepared an itinerary of varied activities incorporating Turkey’s epic history, cultural depth and diverse and unique landscapes. A highlight of the tour will be visiting the Lone Pine Memorial and Cemetery on the 6th of August, a moving and unforgettable experience.

As a professional guide and frequent traveler Michelle understands the needs and expectations of small group travellers and will do her best to ensure all participants have an enjoyable and truly memorable experience.