Ever since I first saw photos of the other worldly landscape of Cappadocia, it became one of those places I had to visit for myself. Little wonder it was an inspiration for some of the scenes in Star Wars.
So what is there to do in Cappadocia. Up the top of my list was a balloon flight and then to do a bit of hiking to get closer to the surreal landscape before exploring the history of the area – all the way back to 2500 BC.
I stayed at the Kelebek Hotel and was able to have a room in my very own fairy chimney.
I didn’t have much planned for my first day. A morning trip to a local farm, with a delicious organic breakfast of eggs, cheeses, fruits, jams, and the local flat bread, followed by lunch in Goreme.
In the afternoon I did a sunset hike in Rose Valley. It was a surreal experience, walking into the valley, first through a group of chimneys in a very sandy, austere environment, then later descending down into a green valley. A group of horse riders came through almost making me feel we had gone back in time, we would meet them at the sunset point later on. We then continued into Rose valley, and up towards the plateau which would be our viewing point for sunset.At the top of the hill, there was a small church (Haçlı Kilise, Church with A Cross) inside one of the fairy chimneys. With its lovely frescoes, its hard to believe it has survived since the 7th century.
We reached the plateau just before sunset. It is a perfect place to watch the sun go down. The rose coloured rocks glow in the late afternoon sun, and you can really see how Rose Valley got its name.
The following morning would be the highlight of my trip. A hot air balloon ride, my first ever. It had been windy for the previous few mornings, so there were going to be a lot of balloons up, as this was the first morning for a while since they were able to go up. We all congregated at the marshalling point, waiting to be assigned to our pilot and balloon. It was crisp but clear as we headed to the field just outside of Goreme to board our balloon. We could see other balloons already rising, as the sky started turning orange and pink as sunrise approached.
The flight was magical. So silent, as we flew over Rose Valley where we had hiked the previous afternoon giving us a birds eye view of the valley. The pilot then took us down into the valley, circling around the chimneys, such precision flying it was breathtaking. All this time there were over a hundred other balloons in the sky each bobbing up and down, I’ve never seen anything like it.
We flew around the north of Goreme town, until we were over Love Valley, finally landing just on the other side in a field owned by a cousin of, you know the story… With a glass of champagne to celebrate the occasion, I’m hooked. The only question now is where will my next balloon ride be?
I flew from Istanbul to Neveshir, then caught a shuttle bus to my hotel in Goreme.
Once in Goreme, for those that don’t have cars, there are many organised bus tours that visit the sights in Cappadocia. Its possible to walk to the Open Air Museum, or get a taxi. There are buses to the nearby towns.
I did a guided group hike in Rose Valley organised through one of the travel companies in Goreme. This included transfer to and pick up from the entrance to Rose Valley. It is possible to walk to Rose Valley from the town, and there are a number of other hikes that are doable from the town, that take you through the other valley, and a sunset hike to a view point that looks over the town.
My balloon trip was with Kapadokya Balloons. They collected us from the hotel and took us to the central marshalling point from where we were taken to our respective balloons. I did the extended trip, and it was amazing.
I had two and a half days in Goreme. This was plenty to see the main sites, but if you want to do a bit of hiking, it would be very easy to spend a few more days out here and walk through some of the other valleys.