Independent travel to Nemrut Dagi in 2011 was seemingly impossible without either renting a car or renting a car and driver. Neither of these appealed to us, so we signed up for a 22 hour transport, hotel, dinner, and breakfast package with Gunes Motel (TL100/person). Gunes Motel is 90km from Malatya and 2km from the Nemrut Dagi peak. When we visited, about 75% of the road from Malatya to the motel was unpaved, rough gravel. However, the motel mentioned that some or perhaps all of the road might be paved in the near future. This would make the trip easier, but it will also lead to more tourists which could change the experience.
The van left Malatya shortly after 12:30pm. All of our luggage was strapped to the roof, but the van was still pretty tight.
In addition to the strange stone heads, one of the coolest parts of visiting Nemrut Dagi for Katie was the fact that the mountain was rather remote. No houses, besides the motel, were visible. Only two roads were visible. Very little signs of human touch could be seen. And the mountains were beautiful.
After sunset we all loaded into the van and headed back to the motel. We ate dinner at a long table, and all got to chat and just relax together. Dinner was a simple but adequate meal of chicken and rice. Some people stayed up playing cards after dinner, but we were tired and opted to head to bed in preparation for the early morning.
After returning from our sunrise trip to the peak, we all ate breakfast together and then loaded up the van for our trip back to Malatya.
We slept almost the entire drive back to Malatya. We arrived back in Malatya before 11am, but were too tired to see much of the city. We dropped our larger luggage at the Sun Express airlines office (apparently airline offices in the city will keep your luggage in Turkey!) and then wandered for a bit. We found a café to chill in for most of the day. Near the end of our visit, the café owner treated us to some free tea as a kind gesture. We eventually left the café to find some dinner, and were surprised when the waiter at that restaurant also gifted us tea near the end of our meal.
Malatya was a city with very dark, strong tea. But surprisingly, the women were still dressed in conservative Western clothing. The norm seemed to be long pants and short/long sleeves with or without a head scarf. It was surprising and refreshing after seeing so many fully veiled women in Istanbul.
Many people visit Nemrut Dagi as a day trip from other places, but this (1) gives you a lot of time in a bus or van for a short time on the mountain and (2) only lets you see sunrise or sunset. We really enjoyed our time at the Gunes Motel, and on a longer trip might consider staying an extra night or two to have time to hike in the beautiful, remote mountain area.