There seems to be two dominant tours to do in the Cappadocia region of Turkey. The red tour, which will take your north with the first stop being the Goreme open air museum and ending with activities in Ürgüp for approx 100TL. Stops vary by tour operator but, generally, if your base is Goreme, you’re heading north. The next is the green tour. Sure, tours have a bad reputation with backpackers they can be handy to cover big distances…. something Turkey has a lot of, and Cappadocia is no exception.
We decided on the southern, green tour (approx 100-120TL). Highlights of the Cappadocia Green tour are:
Derinkuyu Underground City
The green tour appealed to me more for a couple of reasons. Like the red tour, the stops on the green varies by company but the biggest incentive for me was that it included a trek eight levels deep in to Derinkuyu, an underground city and a hike through the Ihlara Valley. The distance between points is large sometimes but the bus is reasonably comfortable and its not summer so the temperature is moderate outside.
Is pretty great. A vast valley of fairy chimneys and unique rock formations spans the landscape trying to convince you that, the bus ride actually took you to another planet. Perfect photo-ops for the amateur or pro from many different angles. There is, of course, vendors peddling their wares but luckily, they keep a decent distance from the view as to not distort your photos.
Derinkuyu Underground City
This place, to be as descriptive as possible, was simply very very cool. It helps that our guide was knowledgeable and spoke English extremely well. She explained how the city came to be, why rooms were dug out the way they were, and why the old inhabitants used fake wells dug in to the ground above. I don’t want to give too many details away as being there and hearing the story was fantastic and a must if you visit Turkey & Cappadocia.
Ihlara Canion (valley)
Hiking the valley is something that I’ll never forgot. I only wish it was in a good way. Not that the valley isn’t stunning. You start by descending down many steps to the valley floor and follow the river climbing under rocks and trees. Admiring the pigeon holes and various other ancient domestic dwellings which open from the valley walls until an interesting stop comes out of no where. A small… shop uncloaks from the trees just where the river expands slightly. Serving only pre-packaged goods (and knowing we’re going for lunch after this hike) we passed on his items. Yet he was nice enough to let everyone use the washroom. Interstingly, a bunch of tables were setup in the river if you’d like to dine while washing your feet. (neat idea eh?)
Lunch was part of the tour cost (but drinks and tips where not included) and was at a restaurant at the end of the valley hike. It was also rushed. Not by the tour guide but by the waiters and staff there. You had a reasonable selection of items. Initially, I had settled on the chicken.. but at the last minute changed it to
mystery meat balls (bad idea) It didn’t taste bad but we were all quickly put back on the bus and off to our next destination.
Welcome to the playground, we’ve got rocks and caves! This area was a great surprise. Not only did it have a great view, you’re encouraged to go up in to the caves and explore. For us nerdy sci-fi people, our guide informed us that this location inspired the “sand people” homes in Star Wars A New Hope. I couldn’t help but feel like Indian Jones. Running in and out of caves, following one pitch black tunnel until I came out in to another room. Figuring out how to get to the second level inside some others. It is exactly what you would have wanted as a fort when you were a kid. I didn’t want to leave but my stomach gave me a unsure gerggle which told me it was time to go.
Don’t be fooled by the name. This is mostly a jewelry store and while it is nice that they give you a free, odd tasting juice, and show you through one window some of the stones being crafted, there is a presentation and some pressure to buy. There are other items for sale which were interesting various pipes and what looks to be hand made items. Yet, I had to skip most of this as I was in the bathroom dealing with round #1 of Shaun vs the mystery meat balls.
We met and chatted with another couple towards the end of the tour. Together, we decided to go out for dinner that night which turned out to be not bad again but had great conversation (until I had round #2 of Shaun vs mystery meat balls)
I will spare you the details, but I woke up in the middle of the night with the worst case of food poisoning I’ve ever had (okay…. so, this is the first time but that still makes me right) We were suppose to go for the famous balloon ride the next day but we had to cancel until the next day (at no charge, which was nice) I was completely bed ridden, didn’t want to be touched and had to stay close to the bathroom. This is one of the big advantages of travelling as a couple! However we do leave Cappadocia on a high note… very high one actually. I’ll tell you about the balloon ride in the next post.