Having fallen in love with the awe-inspiring deserts and incredible rock formations of the American South West many years previously, I never believed that there would be anywhere else on earth to rival the sheer beauty and spirituality of those captivating landscapes – until I discovered Cappadocia. I had not imagined that such a wonderland existed in Turkey, a mere four hour flight from my home in the UK.
I awoke bleary-eyed on the overnight bus from Istanbul in time to witness the sun rise over a strange and surreal scene. Feeling as though I was in the midst of a psychedelic dream, I climbed off the bus and wandered through the streets of Goreme to seek out a cave hotel.
My cave room possessed a certain rustic charm. The bed was carved out of rock, as were the shelves, upon which were placed an assortment of rock ornaments. A true Flintstone style abode, and my home for the next few days.
The following days were amongst my favourite in many years of travel. I wandered freely through some of the most unique scenery on the face of the planet. I explored cave dwellings, trekked along dirt trails, climbed hills, slid down slopes and scrambled over giant boulders.
A visit to Goreme Open Air Museum revealed a number of 10th-12th century rock cut churches, many with intricate frescoes. It was certainly impressive, but also swarming with busloads of tourists. In contrast, on my solitary hikes, I rarely saw another person.
I was spoilt for choice with the variety of enticing trails and country roads to follow. A short walk up a steep hill to the edge of Goreme valley, provided a magnificent view over town. Exploring a little further, I came across an area where squash, tomatoes, olives and grapes were being cultivated. Nearby, I almost fell into a gigantic chasm. Not quite the Grand Canyon, but a surprise nevertheless.
I wandered in astonishment through the giant pinnacles of Love Valley, a geological manifestation of statuesque rocks eroded into phallic-looking towers. One of my favourite hikes took me through Rose Valley to the tiny village of Cavusin. Stopping for a drink, the friendly cafÃ© owner produced a Turkish-English phrase book and we managed a pleasant exchange.
I hiked, feeling like a real explorer, through peaks and valleys. Sitting in a cave, overlooking the vast otherworldly landscape, I heard the distant sound of the muezzin's call to prayer, creating one of those magical moments that sporadically transpire whilst traveling.
Just when I thought I had seen the best that Cappadocia had to offer, I discovered Zelve. A sublime display of tuffs, peaks, fairy chimneys and mysterious cave churches. I investigated the nooks and crannies and revelled in the surrounding panoramic views.
At dusk on the final evening, I reflected on my bewitching sojourn to Cappadocia in a rooftop restaurant. Lights twinkled from the cave houses on the opposite side of the valley, a scenario straight out of a Grimm's fairy story.
Written by: Sue King
Sue King is a freelance travel writer/backpacker/housesitter and general free spirit. She has been living out of a backpack since 2012, when she quit her office job to pursue a life of adventure. She’s visited or lived in over fifty countries and her favoritex to date are the equally colourful and compelling India and Mexico. .
Photos by: Sue King
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What an incredible adventure! It’s so great when we leave our comfort zone and challenge ourselves in ways that we never before would have imagined. The landscapes look beautiful That’s what travelingÂ´s all about really. Thanks for sharing your personal experience. Definitely, i would love to bookmark this place that might useful on my next Turkey visit.
Great post! Thank you for sharing this article.