Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Walking in Cappadoccia

One of Turkey's absolute must see attractions is the volcanic landscape of Cappadocia; a magnificent chunk of earth carved over time by wind and water into folds, chimneys, caves and clefts.  The most popular way to see this geological wonder is to pay for a fairly pricey spot on one of the many hot air balloons that fill the sky each morning.  This birds-eye view is certainly great, but to really embrace and understand the place one should don a pair of hiking boots and explore on foot. 

There are plenty of valleys and a great deal to discover if you're keen for an adventure and have the time.  My 2 favourites walks are centred around the town of Goreme, which in my opinion is also the place to base yourself when in the area.

The first walk begins at the Zelve Open Air Museum (ZOAM) and ends on the road above the Goreme Open Air Museum.  I takes anything from a few hours, if you rush, to a whole day, if you smell the roses.  Catch a dolmus (minibus) or taxi to ZOAM and then head back towards Goreme, along a dirt track on the left of the road.  This takes you to Pasabagi, or Monk's Valley, where you should explore a bit and then make your way up the hill where most of the tour groups stand and look down over the valley.  Once on top, do an about turn, so that Pasabagi is behind you, and find a path that leads down the hill.  Walk for around half an hour and you'll end up in the new part of Cavusin.  Follow your nose, or ask a local, and make your way up to the old and really interesting part of town that was literally cut into a rocky mountainside and inhabited until not so long ago.  Ask someone to point out the way to the red and rose valleys and head out of town.  If you need to refuel, stop at the little restaurant on the left and have a bite to eat.  Walk along the dirt trail away from Cavusin and take the second turning left, hopefully signposted 'Rose Valley'.  This path takes you up into the beautiful valley, which is second from the left if you stand facing the mountains ahead.  Continue for quite some time along this trail, through a few archways and finally the path will start taking a right turn up the side of the valley.  Continue up this fairly steep path and at the top enjoy a really spectacular view.  Head down into the Red Valley, stopping at the Hacli (White) Church on the way.  You end up on the valley floor where you can follow the path out.  At a main junction, with a larger dirt road cutting across in front and a few little stalls selling souvenirs and drinks, take a left turn.  You are now in the Meskender Valley, quite long, leading you back towards Goreme.  Follow the dry river bed, under arches and then up to a campsite and road.  Turn right on the road and walk down the hill to the Goreme Open Air Museum.   


The second walk takes in the famous Love (or Honey) Valley.  Walk out of Goreme into and through the Pigeon Valley, towards Uchisar.  In no time at all, you'll find yourself looking up at a few stalls and a viewpoint above.  Take any one of a number of tracks up to the road above.  Cross over this road, turn left and walk a few minutes towards Uchisar until you see a track down to the right.  Follow this into the little valley and then up the other side.  You'll now be up on a ridge and ahead of you will be a path that leads away from Uchisar and down into the Love Valley.  Here you will normally have someone point you in the right direction.  This sandy track is a bit steep, so take care, but soon you'll find yourself at the floor of the valley, and the dry river bed.  Make your way along this, through the wonderful scenery and huge fairy chimneys until you reach a little stall and a dirt road.  This road will take you to a tarred one which you should turn right onto and after 50m or so, you'll be at the main road connecting Avanos and Goreme (to your right).  Flag down a passing bus or walk along the road into Goreme.  



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