Visiting Cappadocia in Turkey is a unique travel experience. Having fallen in love with the deserts and rock formations of the American South West many years previously.
I never believed that there would be anywhere else in the world to rival the sheer beauty and spirituality of those captivating landscapes.
Until I arrived in Cappadocia. I never suspected that such a wonderland existed in Turkey, a country a mere four hour flight from my home in the UK.
Cappadocia can be found in central Anatolia, in the heartland of what is now Turkey. The relief consists of a high plateau that is over 1000 meters high in altitude which is pierced by rough volcanic peaks.
Of these volcanic peaks, Mount Erciyes (ancient Argaeus) near Kayseri (ancient Caesarea) is the highest mountain at 3916 meters high.
The boundaries of historical Cappadocia in Turkey are rather vague, particularly towards the western side. To the south, the Taurus Mountains form the geographical boundary with Cilicia and separate Cappadocia from the Mediterranean Sea.
To the west, Cappadocia is bordered by the historical regions of Lycaonia to the south west, and Galatia to the north west.
The Black Sea coastal ranges separate Cappadocia from Pontus and the Black Sea. However over to the east Cappadocia is bounded by the upper Euphrates. Before that river bends to the southeast to flow into Mesopotamia, and the Armenian Highland. This results in an area approximately that is 400 km (250 mi) east to west and 250 km (160 mi) north to south.
Explore Cappadocia in Video
Explore this selection of videos taken from in and around the region.[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iw9FCW-E000&width=640&height=390¢ervid=1&vq=hd720&modestbranding=1&listType=playlist&list=PLSguBdj-xSbBUrSVo7xpvdEPW9wNMQpnc&plindex=0[/embedyt]
Due to its inland location and high altitude, Cappadocia has a markedly warm continental climate. The region offers visitors hot dry summers and cold snowy winters. Rainfall in Cappadocia is fairly infrequent and the region is largely dry and arid.
Having taken an overnight bus from Istanbul, my partner and I arrived in the small Turkish town of Goreme at dawn. Bleary-eyed, we awoke in time to see the sun come up over a strange and surreal scene. Cappadocia hot air balloons hovered over ancient cave dwellings and bizarrely sculpted rocks, the image illuminated in the early morning glow. Feeling as though we were in the midst of some psychedelic dream, we wandered through the dusty streets to our Cappadocia cave hotel.
Enchanting Cappadocia Cave Hotels
Our cave hotel Cappadocia had a certain rustic charm. The bed was carved out of rock, as were the shelves, upon which were an assortment of rock ornaments. A true Flintstone style abode, and our cave home for the next few days.
Tourism and tradition exist side by side in enchanting Goreme. Locals wear traditional clothing, horse and carts trundle along and chickens wander into the street. Meanwhile, cave hotels, shops and rooftop restaurants provide necessary facilities for visitors, all in the setting of an incredible valley.
The days that followed were among my favourite in many years of traveling. We wandered freely, through what must be some of the most unique scenery on the face of the planet, most of it walkable from Goreme. We explored cave dwellings in and around Goreme, trekked along dirt trails and valleys, slid down slopes and scrambled over giant boulders.
We paid a visit to Goreme Open Air Museum, a fifteen minute walk from town. There are lots of sky tours type attractions such in Cappadocia such as taking a trip in a Cappadocia hot air balloon. Also see a collection of 10th – 12th century rock-cut churches, many with intricate frescoes, it was impressive, but swarming with tour bus passengers. In contrast, on our hikes we rarely saw another person.
Hiking in Cappadocia
We were spoilt for choice with the variety of trails and dirt roads to follow. A short walk up a steep hill to the edge of the valley provided a beautiful view of the town and the countryside around Goreme. Exploring a little further afield, we came across an area where squash, tomatoes, olives and grapes were being cultivated. Nearby, we practically fell into a gigantic chasm. Not quite the Grand Canyon, but a surprise nevertheless!
Love Valley, west of Goreme, is a geological manifestation of huge rocks eroded into phallic-looking towers. A strange and otherworldly sight, we spent an afternoon wandering through the giant pinnacles.
Visting Goreme and Cavusin via the Rose Valley
One of our favourite hikes while visiting Cappadocia took us through Rose Valley to the village of Cavusin. We explored peaks, gorges and caves. Sitting in a cave, overlooking the vast otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia, we heard the distant sound of the muezzin’s call to prayer, creating one of those magical moments that sporadically transpire whilst travelling.
At Cavusin, about five kilometres away from Goreme, there is an imposing church cut into a rock wall, the central feature of the village. A perfect stop for a refreshment break. We sat at a local café where the owner produced a Turkish-English dictionary so that he could have a chat with us.
Discovering Zelve in Turkey
Another five kilometres on, and just when we thought that we had seen the best that Cappadocia had to offer, we discovered Zelve. A sublime display of tuffs, peaks, fairy chimneys and cave churches, we investigated nooks and crannies and took in the surrounding panoramic views across Zelve.
On our final evening visiting Cappadocia, before taking the overnight bus back to Istanbul, we reflected on our visit to Cappadocia. Relaxing in a rooftop restaurant we surveyed a scene straight out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. In the dusk, lights twinkled from the cave houses. This was no ordinary destination, and I knew that it would be a place that I would return to again and again in my mind.
If You Go Visiting Cappadocia
For explorers visiting Cappadocia there are lots of Cappadocia travel options to get you to the region. Travel to Cappadocia airport in Turkey or take the train or bus by road. Here are the best ways to reach the region to start exploring.
Cappadocia Travel by Plane
You can fly to Kayseri’s Erkilet Airport from either of Istanbul’s airports on Turkish or Pegasus Air. Or you can fly straight to Cappadocia airport with a carrierKayseri is about 75 km from Cappadocia and you can either hire a car or take a shuttle bus to your hotel from the
Cappadocia Travel by Train
High speed trains connect Istanbul with Ankara and Konya. From Konya, you can either take a bus or rent a car to Cappadocia, which is about a four hour drive away.
Cappadocia Travel by Bus
This is the cheapest option for visiting Cappadocia. From Istanbul, you can take a night bus (about 10 or 12 hours). Ask at your hotel or hostel and they should be able to arrange it for you.
Accommodation While Visiting Cappadocia
Whilst visiting Cappadocia, it would be a shame not to stay in a cave! From luxury hotels to budget hostels, the choice is wide. You can have a browse and book at all the usual accommodation websites including www.agoda.com or www.booking.com/hotels