When the opportunity for me to go to Gallipoli for Anzac Day with Travel Talk Tours I was beyond thrilled. As a kiwi (New Zealander), it’s a special privilege to be able to honour our fallen soldiers who fought and lost in Gallipoli. Every year, on the 25th of April, we remember those Anzacs that bravely headed for war not knowing what was waiting for them. Unfortunately, their landing was a huge failure and what waited for the Anzacs on the shore was brutal and terrifying to say the least.
I am so honoured that I got to experience Anzac day at Anzac Cove, it will be an experience I will never forget and it should be at the top of every New Zealander and Australian’s bucket list. While leading up to the day (as I was on the 10-day tour), we visited some of the most beautiful sites that Turkey has to offer. The day before we could visit Anzac cove and set up camp, we got to visit various cemeteries scattered around Gallipoli and got to spend time taking in the landscapes and the moment, as well as remembering those who lost their lives here. It was great to be able to sit back quietly and enjoy these places while there weren’t many other people around and before the hordes of people came to visit for Anzac Day.
The next day, at around 9pm, we waited for security to open the gates as no one is allowed on the site until late the night before Anzac Day for security reasons. Did I feel safe? Yes, of course. Unfortunately, this year there were warnings for terrorist attacks so security remained high at all times but never once did I feel unsafe. In fact, with the security alerts in place this made me feel safer as the Turkish government had put an insane amount of security in place. We went through several security checkpoints and had strict rules as well as snipers who watched over us and drones flying above us too. Usually, on Anzac Day there are over 10,000 people who come to the dawn parade but this year there were around 600-800 people. This made it super easy for us to find our spot for the night as you have to camp there to get the best spot for the dawn parade.
Throughout the night, while sleeping under the stars, there was entertainment including documentaries, live music and stories. The vibe was amazing.
This was my first time going to a dawn parade and what a way to experience one for the first time in the actual location. It was an early start but totally worth it. I was speechless for the entire ceremony and the ceremonies at that followed at Lone Pine (Australian ceremony) and Chunuck Bair (New Zealand ceremony). I basically cried through the whole New Zealand ceremony at Chunuck Bair, it was incredible.
I highly urge you to travel to Turkey and take one of the Anzac Travel Talk Tours. It was an experience I will never forget and one that I will be able tell in years to come. Whether you are from New Zealand or Australia it’s something should be on your bucket list. It’s an honourable way to remember the soldiers but also to learn. From hearing all the stories over the tour, I learnt more than I ever have about what those Anzacs went through.
My top tips for Anzac Day at Gallipoli:
- Bring a warm sleeping bag and warm clothes. It was absolutely freezing during the night and you don’t want to be caught out.
- Put something underneath your sleeping to keep the moisture out like black bin bags or something similar.
- Take some money for food as they were selling kebabs (which smelt delicious!) and hot tea and coffee. As you were not allowed to bring your own water in you had to buy it there for a couple of Lira.
- Wear comfortable sneakers as after the dawn parade has finished you then have the option to attend the Australian and New Zealand ceremonies, which requires a bit of hiking. It takes about 45 minutes to walk uphill to the Australian ceremony, which is at Lone Pine. Then, if you are attending the New Zealander one it’s another 45 minutes to an hour uphill hike to Chunuck Bair. Personally, I found the hike from the Australian ceremony to the New Zealand one pretty hard as it’s very hilly but it’s certainly nothing to stress about.
- If you are a Kiwi please ask if there is a limited amount of seating at the ceremony as I only JUST made it in to watch the actual ceremony. A lot of New Zealanders missed out and had to watch it 200 meters from the actual site on a screen so you need to definitely enquire about that and if so, get there super early!
- Enjoy the experience and take it all in. It’s one of those moments you will never forget.
Travel Talk Tours has a variety of Anzac Day tours that range from 3 days until 12 days, check them out here. You can start booking for 2018 tours from mid-June/July.
Lest we forget.
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