We found ourselves in a (almost) deserted town. We had just arrived in Göreme at 7 a.m. and our hotel was another 10 km away in a small town called Ürgüp. Not exactly walking distance after a sleepless nine-hour bus ride from Antalya with backpacks. Hmmm, what to do?
Cappadocia, the land of beautiful horses, is a historical region made-up of numerous small towns. The most well preserved caves and the most popular valleys were near Göreme, however I had decided to stay in the less touristy area of Ürgüp. Göreme had close to 200 hotels and showed no signs of slowing down. Tourism bustled everywhere as was evidenced by the numerous housing projects on the outskirts of the town for the locals employed by the tourism industry.
So back to our dilemma. We quickly learned that the first bus to Ürgüp didn’t come for at least another two hours and a taxi would cost us 30TL (about $15) to drive a mere six miles. We ended up renting an ATV for four hours at 80TL ($40) and loaded it with our two backpacks, Dumpty’s book bag and my large tote. We figured it would be cheaper to rent the ATV, ride to our hotel, offload the gear, and then go off exploring than to just rent a taxi. The proprietor secured the packs with two elastic bands. It looked secure and felt secure. Murphy’s Law kicked in within minutes – all of our stuff fell off as we turned around a sharp incline. Cars and trucks honked at us as they swerved around. We eventually made it on the highway (we looked ridiculous, everyone was staring, but whatever) and found our way to our hotel with all limbs intact.
Pics of Ürgüp:
Once we settled into our awesome hotel, Cave Konak, we spent the rest of the day sight seeing on our ATV. Dumpty, who was initially skeptical of renting the ATV, had that cute little grin on his face. He didn’t say anything, which is Dumpty code for “I know you are right, and I don’t want to admit it, but this is actually a great idea and a lot of fun.” So I let him do all the driving. The most famous sights were the Fairy Valley and the chimneys. See below.
Now you might have wondered how the surrealistic chimneys’ formed into these weird shapes. Three inactive volcanoes surrounded the Cappadocia region, however they were active ten million years ago and the entire region was covered with magma, lava, volcanic ash, and basalt. These materials hardened overtime and formed the foundation of the chimneys, caves, etc. The bottom of the rock, called tufa, was soft and pliable while the top hardened lava caps were difficult to erode. The winter months of hard rain slowly eroded the tufa while the lava cap stayed intact. This resulted in the unique mushroom shapes people see today. If it weren’t for the soft tufa layer, the ancient inhabitants wouldn’t have been able to dig out homes and churches.
It was close to 100 degrees and there wasn’t a single cloud in sight the following day. “Perfect” weather conditions for the seven mile hike we did through Sunset, Red and Rose valley. Covered head to toe with dust and sticky with sweat, I thought I was going to faint from the heat and steep climb. The fresh squeezed orange juice and the cold water we purchased from a small café on the hilltop gave me a much-needed boost. After the long hike, we stopped at the Göreme Open Air museum. Perhaps it was the exhaustion or the hype, but I didn’t think the museum was worth the money. All the caves were used as churches at some point and had holy Christian people painted on the walls and ceiling. I had seen enough after forty minutes.
Advice: Do not get the 10 TL audio tour or take a group tour. The audio guide didn’t tell me much and anyone part of a tour was only allowed to stay in each cave for 3 minutes at a time. Just go in, admire the artistry, revel in the history, and save your hard earned TL for a private tour of the cave cities.
Here are some pictures from our hiking excursion.