Exploring Cappadocia Part 1: The Fairy Chimneys around Göreme

We never did the balloon ride, but we still enjoyed watching the balloons taking off in the morning

The first destination for our trip to Turkey last year was Cappadocia. This region is known for its peaceful valleys with the strangely-shaped houses, and has its origins in ancient times with Hittite settlements going back as 1800 BC. The look of Cappadocia had fascinated us for years, so we we flew from Istanbul to Kayseri, then took a minibus to the town of Göreme

The town of Göreme. We stayed in the Osmanli Cappadocia hotel in the north end of the town. The room was okay, breakfast was good and the rooftop was great. There were also some hiking trails within walking distance. The beige areas surrounding the town are just a portion of Goreme National Park

The town itself was compact, and had all the basic restaurants, shops and services needed by travellers. We picked up a SIM card in a local shop (our connection from Athens arrived late so we missed the chance for SIM cards at the airport) and started exploring.

To the north of town was a very quiet area where we walked for a few hours and only saw a few people. Far in the distance at the tops of the overlooks on the other side of the valley we saw tour buses, but on our side there were just a couple hikers and a few farmers and that was it.

Kim got a shot of me looking into the valley
The area was called “Love Valley.” There might be reasons for that

One of the impressive things about the park surrounding Göreme was the number of spires and rock homes in all directions. Known as hoodoos, theses formations are found around the world but the ones here are among the most impressive.

There were also differences in each valley’s formations so you never felt like you were seeing the same sights twice.

Wider and sharper spires in a different valley
You can see the outskirts of Göreme in the background

The region surrounding Göreme is really composed of two amazing sights: the natural hoodoos created over time and the structures people have carved out of them.

In areas surrounding the town and within the town itself, the evidence of human creativity can been seen. Because the rock is so soft, people have carved homes and storage spaces for survival. Listed as a World Heritage Site, the region has a multitude of these structures created over the centuries.

It is strange to think that a place that one once was an ancient refuge for people escaping persecution, has now developed into a centre for tourism. As we walked through the valleys we were really impressed by the ways humans have adapted to their environment.

Structures were cut into the rock
While they have were abandoned long ago as places to live, some of these structures were still used by farmers as storage
Interior of one of the structures

At the end of this portion of the trail I picked up a companion before we came back to Göreme. He seemed to have come from a small caravan of trailers between the town and the chimneys, possibly belonging to farmers or seasonal workers. I talked to him as we made our way back towards Göreme. He followed me all the way back to town. Kim thought it was funny that he stayed so close to me even though I didn’t have any food to give him.

But as we entered the town, he suddenly became distracted and wouldn’t go any further. We understood so we said goodbye and continued on without him.

So we had lunch and enjoyed the local breads, snacks and stews. With an abundance of delicious foods at reasonable prices, we never had difficulty finding something to order.

Situated next to the town, the Goreme open air museum is a area mixing natural beauty and history. When we weren’t viewing the natural hoodoos and other rock formations we were seeing the ways people constructed their unique homes.

So peaceful up above the valley
Feels like we were ready to meet the Flintstones
Doing a few more of the carved-out buildings before heading back to town

We made our way back into town once again. Using Google Maps it was easy to explore around the town while knowing where to go to get back if we needed to rest or have a bite to eat.

Homes and lodgings built into the side of the rock

With sunset approaching we headed up to an overlook close to the town. The views of the town and the surrounding valleys stood out.

The giant Turkish flag was located on an overlook close to the town. It was a bit of a hike up and a small fee to get there but it was well worth it
Looking down on Göreme
Sunset from above the town

We had dinner in the town–Kim got a vegetarian dish in a clay pot that the staff have to break open. After dinner we made our way up one of the tallest slopes in the town towards an overlook with great views.

After dinner we saw a local wine stand on the street. The guy was selling hot spiced wine on a cool autumn evening, so we had to try it!

There were a lot of stray dogs in Göreme, and they were generally friendly to people though not always friendly to each other. We found that out when I bought some beef sandwiches to give them (no sauce) and a few got aggressive when trying to prevent other dogs from eating them. It was nice to give something to the local doggies, but we knew our efforts weren’t doing anything to solve the problem. We were just feeding a few of them for one night.

During the time we spent staying in Göreme, we circled around the town and saw most of the valleys close by. We went in October and found that there were no crowds and often we were the only people around. It was a great way to hike and see the various hoodoo formations, and to see history come alive in abandoned rock houses we could get close to and explore.

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