The violent eruptions of the volcanoes Erciyes (3916 m) and Hasan (3268 m) three million years ago which covered the surrounding plateau with tuff, lava and volcanic ash, are at the origin of the most strange landscape on Earth. Undergoing erosion by wind and water, this plateau was shredded creating monumental rock formations such as rock cones, capped pinnacles and fretted ravines in colours ranging from warm reds and golds to cool greens and greys. “Fairy chimneys” with flat stones on the top, cones with distorted shapes combining to perfect a more confusing surrealist decoration than any of the most delirious sculptors could design. In other places, are notched small valleys dug out of canyons at the bottom of which river curve, giving the appearance of a lunarscape.
Cappadocia is not only a wonder of Nature. Man lived there. In pyramids and cliffs openings give access to cave dwellings, rock-cut churches, monasteries and underground cities dug at the beginning of Christianity.
On this tour, we offer you a fantasy of nature and almost like another planet and to which no description can accurately do justice. One needs to feel its magic environment, its colours and its luminosity to appreciate another dimension…
Itinerary: 8 days.
Day 1: Ankara
Meet at the airport and transfer to hotel for overnight. The first dinner is free.
Day 2: Ankara – Ihlara Valley
We have a look at the old city. Then possibility for those who want to visit the famous and rich Anatolian Civilisations museum where are exposed many objects and tools, found during archaeological excavations in Anatolian Historical sites.
4 h drive to Cappadocian area through the Anatolian plateau, via the salt lake (Tuz gölü). Before arriving in Ihlara area we visit the Agzıkarahan Seldjuk caravanserai dating from the 12th century. This was used as guest-hotel by the caravans travelling on the Silk-Road. The masonry is an example showing the Seldjuk art. A short walk in the Selime village will permit us to have a first contact with Cappadocia. We will see cave dwellings and rock-cut churches from the Christian period. Then drive to Ihlara village to check in pension for overnight.
NB : Ankara museum is closed on Monday.
Day 3: Vallée d’Ihlara – Cappadocia
Walk in the Ihlara valley, along the Melendiz and rhythmed by birds songs. This valley is particularly rich with flora due to presence of water. We visit certainly ones of the most beautiful orthodox Christian churches (from 6th and 12th century) with good conserved frescoes on the rock faces of the valley. We arrive in Belisırma village where we have lunch-break at the bank of the river. Then our bus drives us to Derinkuyu to visit the incredible underground city (8 floors, going down to 57 m under the ground). After this visit, we drive to Mustafapaşa charming city, which was inhabited by Orthodox Greek, untill 1923. At this date Turkey and Greece signed the Lausanne Treaty, concerning exchange of population between the 2 countries. Today, you can recognise Greek masonry on the face of old houses. Cheek in pension for overnight. 5 h walk and 1 h drive.
Day 4: Damsa barrage – Ayvalı – Tahtalı valleey – Mustafapaşa
After breakfast in the pension, our minibus drives us to the trailhead nearby the Damsa barrage, which provides water for the cultures of the villages. We walk along the foot of a natural tumulus carved by erosion and known as Golgoli by local people. We arrive on a plateau where we discover the village of Ayvalik. This will be an opportunity to testify the hospitality of the inhabitant with a tea-pause in the local cafe.
After our picnic, we continue among the apricot trees, before getting to the valley of Tahtali, one of most typical of Cappadocia. Then following a pleasant pathway we get down to Mustafapaşa village. Dinner and overnight in pension.
5/6 hours walk.
Day 5: Akvadi – Uçhisar – Pigeon valley – Göreme.
Drive to the trailhead point at the beginning of the Akvadi (white valley). We walk in this valley following an old river (today dry), with fruits gardens and vineyards. In this valley, the fairy chimneys are particularly slim. At noon we arrive in Uçhisar village to visit the high viewpoint known as “fortress” (a volcanic ash peak). In the afternoon we walk in the pigeon valley, called so because of the numerous “pigeon houses” built in the 18th century. Arrive to Goreme where human constructions and natural formations go hand in hand. 5 hours walk.
Day 6 : Kızılçukur valley – Avcılar valley – Göreme
Drive to Çavuşin village village, one of the first Christian settlements. We visit here the old church dedicated to St the Baptispte, where you can still recognise the fresco of Salome dancing for Herodes. Afterward we continue onto Kızılçukur (Red Valley), this valley is certainly the most beautiful in Cappadocia with its formations and red colours: during millions years ago, rain and wind worked together to erode the soft volcanic rock; you will see here that the result is really fairy. Small valleys, cones, peaks and fairy chimneys alternate harmoniously on our way. Because he needed to become integrated into this extraordinary landscape, man built into it cave dwellings, frescoed churches. We will visit some of them en-route.
Our exploration of Cappadocia will continue on in the Avcılar valley.
In the heart of Cappadocia, this is a very beautiful valley, with poplars, fruit trees between two walls of coloured tuff. We follow all the meanders; the colours change quickly, the white dominate, the abandoned gardens fall down in this strange land. We finally finish through fields of gigantic fairy chimneys to find return to our pension in Göreme.
Possibility in the evening to discover the handicraft of Cappadocia: pottery and carpet demonstration, and to try out a Turkish bath…
5 – 6 hours walk.
Day 7: Cappadoce – Ankara
Drive to Paşabağ valley (also called Priest valley). We walk on the the cliffs overlooking the most famous fairy chimneys of Cappadocia: some are slowly eroding, whereas some others have still three “heads”.We join back our minibus to drive back to Ankara.
Check in hotel for overnight.
Day 8: Ankara – Return
Transfer to airport for the return flight.