4 feet 2 mouths

walking and eating our way around the world

The Unbelievable Cappadocia (by Nathan)

Sunrise hot air balloons in Cappadocia

Want to see a place that is magical, astonishing and entirely unbelievable? Visit Cappadocia in central Turkey for one out-of-this-world experience.  Spectacular land formations converge with exemplary culture for an experience of a lifetime.

Colorful Turkish carpets

Göreme rock tower and former home

Sizzling clay pot chicken

We landed in the city of Göreme from Selçuk on one super long bus ride that passed through Ankara.  It is difficult to know all major holidays while traveling, but our time in Turkey coincided with one of the largest Muslim holidays of the year, Eid al-Adha.  Thus busses were booked and we added an extra four hours of travel time just to get to Cappadocia.  When we finally did arrive, we staggered out of the mini bus completely in awe.  Enormous cones of rock scattered the landscape. Each miniature mountain had been hollowed out with windows, rooms, and elaborate entrances.  Everywhere we looked was a cave home or cave hotel towering over the city.  We explored the city for a short while, but our afternoon ended quickly as the clouds closed in overhead and our daylight disappeared.  For dinner found a cozy restaurant with some pide (Turkish style pizza) and clay pot roast.

Sunrise balloon silhouettes

Checkered hot air balloon drifting through Cappadocia

We awoke in the dark.  Despite our desire to sleep in, we were eager to climb to the Göreme lookout point.  We ascended to the ridge to discover eighty hot air balloons preparing for take off.  There was a silence in the air that was broken by scattered rough coughs of enormous torches heating the gigantic balloons.  In the faint light the balloons slowly rose from the canyon.  They drifted into the air and above the horizon.  The colors and designs of each balloon varied- there were stripes, checkerboards, rings, flags and advertisements decorating the orange sky.  The sun peaked over the mountain ridge in the distance and the balloons rose higher and higher.  After an hour of flight the balloons steer themselves to an opposite canyon and land effortlessly on trailers waiting for them.  The balloon travelers viewed the drastic landscape from the sky, but we wanted to explore the canyons on foot.

Shadowed eroded contours

Our hiking companion Spotty

Colorful contours of the Red Valley

We began our hike at the top of the Red Valley, looped into the Rose Valley and returned to Göreme.  In our first hour of hiking we immediately found a new friend, Spotty, a friendly stray dog that loved to walk and show us around the canyon.  There were some sections where we needed to climb a ladder into narrow tunnels.  Spotty would pout, we would say goodbye, then five minutes later he would return to us jumping up and down excited that he found another way to the trail.  He reminded me of the sweet dogs that hiked with us in South America.

Frescoes of a Red Valley church

Carved cave cathedral in the Red Valley

The cliffs in these valleys are amazing.  Huge ridge lines of rock overshadowed our trail.  Looking into the rock face we would see a carved window.  We approached one former habitation to find a beautiful church, full of colorful plastered and painted frescos.  We were mesmerized by another church down the trail; an enormous cathedral, a man-made cavern carved out of the rock.  Columns and beams were cut from the original rock as one continuous formation.  The church was beautiful, welcoming and peaceful.  After a few pictures, we continued our walk through the canyon.  The colors of rock were fantastic with subtle pinks and oranges contrasted with bright whites and drastic wave-like erosion grooves.

Beautiful Cappadocia landscape

Fairy chimneys of Love Valley

Delightful Turkish trail mix

The next day we explored the valleys to the west, the White Valley and Love Valley. We descended from Uçhisar and into the deep canyon.  Within a half hour our perspective was cutoff and hiked deeper into the canyon.  Two hours into our walk and we realized that, although beautiful, we had been hiking the wrong canyon and we were lost.  We refueled with some Turkish delights. We crossed a few ridges and found our way to the Love Valley.  Sixty foot fairy chimneys stood as prominent, and slightly phallic columns in the valley. We continued our hike to the adjacent city of Çavuşin, picked up a local bus and returned to Göreme exhausted.

Lamb döner sandwich

Chicken döner plate

With all this hiking our lunch times have been sporadic and our hunger voracious.  It seems to be a common occurrence for us to push hard to see sights all day and when we finally stop for a break we are eating lunch at 4 o’clock.  The go-to place for a quick and delicious bite are the many döner kebab stands throughout every Turkish city. Chicken or lamb is layered onto a spike and rotated slowly over a flame until the meat becomes juicy and delicious.

Backside of Uçhisar castle

Amazing 800 year old cave home

The cave buildings are everywhere.  One enormous one is Uçhisar castle.  This gigantic rock has been carved with at least ten stories of rooms and chapels.  The look-out point can be accessed around the side of the castle and offers excellent views of the nearby cities and valleys.

Göreme open air museum

The dark church frescoes

The best preserved churches in the area are in the Göreme open air museum.  This collection of eight or so fairy chimneys and cliffs house beautiful chapels decorated exquisitely with colorful frescoes.  One frustrating part of Turkey has been the constant demand for entrance fees from tourists.  I am happy to be a tourist, but frustrated when I am considered a cash-cow.  The last time I felt like this was in Cuzco.  Of course we payed extra to get into the dark church.  Hiding behind one of the columns, I befuddled the security guard and took this photo of the ceiling.  Breaking the law for the blog!

Kaymakli underground city

Deeper into the earth we explored.  A short bus ride from Nevşehir and we were descending a set of stairs into a underground city of Kaymakli.  Eighteen hundred years ago, christianity was just picking up momentum.  In order to protect themselves the people dug out elaborate tunnels, ventilation shafts and locking doors deep into the earth.  We climbed down a stairwell, through a dimly lit hallway and room after room showed a history of food storage, wine making and cooking.  There was even a place for livestock to be kept safe.  The entrance fee covers a lit path the descends one hundred feet (30m) down through six levels of the eleven that exist.  I counted at least six sections of the city that were not lit; I strapped my headlamp on and I climbed into the darkness.  I crawled on my hands and knees and eventually the tiny hallway opened up into a room, another hallway and I found a bigger room.  Sections of rock were carved out to hold a round door used to block the passage way.  Deep and alone and feeling like I was in an Indiana Jones movie, I turned around and returned to Carmen.

Cave buildings in Rose Valley

Cappadocia continued to take our breath away.  The natural formations of rock alone are spectacular.  Combined with colorful balloons, cavernous underground city’s and cave churches makes the region a magical and unbelievable place.  This is one of the best places we have ever been, go here!


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121 thoughts on “The Unbelievable Cappadocia (by Nathan)

  1. This place seems amazing!!! I was thinking of Indiana Jones the whole time so I am glad you said it :) With all the cave churches I am thinking you should do a destination wedding….

  2. Truly amazing and beautiful shots! It’s high on my to go to list!! :)

  3. Amazing pics!! I love the rock tower and the contours of the Red Valley pic. This is definitely a place I need to visit once in my lifetime! :)

  4. That sounds like great adventure. There were some great pics, and then I saw the lamb doner sandwich and my mouth started watering. It’s 10pm and not a food shop open near me. That’s cruel !!!
    Enjoy your travels.Cheers,

  5. Beautiful scenery from a place most of us will never see. You are so blessed to have the opportunity to see this part of our world. Thanks for the vicarious pleasure of seeing a different slice of life.

  6. What a great post and an amazing place. I’m definitely going to Turkey for my next trip — you just made it official!

  7. wow, it is like a lost world, the kind you’d imagine being dreamed up for a hollywood movie like avatar.thanks for sharing.

  8. Gorgeous! I love your hot air balloon photos, and this trip looks enchanting.

  9. Turkey has long been on my List….you’re not making it any easier to live with my itchy feet today. What an amazing trip you guys are on. Good for you.

  10. Beautiful photographs. I’m jealous.

  11. I love Turkey! Can’t wait to go back. Thank you for your beautiful photos :)

  12. Jasmine Siu on said:

    So jealous! Turkey looks amazing :)

  13. Food looks delicious!

  14. i was there three years ago and it was, hands down, one of the best experiences of my life. i recommend it to everyone who is thinking of going to Turkey. thanks for sharing!

  15. So enjoyed reading your post about Cappadocia! I was recently in Turkey, but missed this magical place with its fairy chimneys and cave homes. After reading your post, I know if have to go back to see this enchanting place!

  16. Awesome. Now I wanna go.

  17. Allan G. Smorra on said:

    This post has been a education of me. Congratulations on being FP and thank you for your great photos and easy narrative style. Where to next?

  18. what a great place! loved your pictures!

  19. Caroline on said:

    What a lovely atmosphere you created there!

  20. Wow what an adventure, your photos are awesome!!!

  21. If you go back you will have to take one of those awesome Cappadocia balloon rides that begins at sunrise! Don’t you agree?

  22. I only just started traveling outside the U.S. about two years ago. So far I’ve visited Paris, Florence, Rome, Venice, and Vienna. This list of places I’d like to go next is slowly becoming extremely long.

  23. mysweatyshirt on said:

    Sizzling clay pot chicken look so delicious! Love the hot air balloons and the cave. Fantastic place to go. :)

  24. I’m not gonna lie. I’m totally jealous! And that food looks amazing. I almost tried to eat my laptop screen. Nice blog!

  25. I already wanted to go there, but now? Now, I am more convinced than ever. Your pictures are amazing!

  26. Great post and amazing pictures!

  27. kittyjane on said:

    Wow! Between the food and the views you really made me want to visit here!!

  28. I want to visit this place :)

  29. Breathtaking views! I just got back from Bryce Canyon in Utah–these cliffs and valleys look somewhat similar, but here humans participated in forming the landscape almost as much as nature for millennia, it seems. This goes on my must-visit list, certainly!

  30. i 110% believe you that it was one of the best places you’ve ever been! i visited cappadocia years ago and still admire the landscape like nowhere else on earth. i regret i didn’t ride the giant balloon. one day i will!
    the cave churches for a destination wedding, manish? sounds like a brilliant idea!!

  31. Pingback: The Unbelievable Cappadocia (by Nathan) TURKISCHLAND | turkischland

  32. Your photographs are breathtaking! I have always wanted to go to a balloon festival – and ride in one.

  33. Lovely blog post! I really want to go there now!

  34. It looks amazing. Great pictures!

  35. Amazing photos. I’m going to be there in about 2 weeks! So excited.

  36. wowo love the rock homes and underground one….I once went to the catcombs under Rome, built for the same reason…

  37. I suddenly want to go climbing… and eat dinner. Probably just a coincidence.

  38. Stellar featured photo! Heading towards Cuzco soon on our 1 year adventure, good to know what to avoid! Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  39. Hi Nathan,
    Such a lovely explanation of your visit to Cappadocia! I am Turkish and therefore would love to hear comments about how you found our culture, mainly how people were to you during your trip.

    • We loved Turkey. The people were very helpful and kind, but also a little more money grabbing at times in selling tickets and tours. All-in-all our few weeks are too short to create judgements and we’d always enjoy sharing a meal and a conversation with a Turk.

  40. Wow! I think I have a new travel destination in mind. Your photos are fantastic!

  41. Incredible photos guys. I was totally mesmerised by them! And I completely agree with you on the döner kebab standing- you may find my recent scribblings on southern spain’s adopted culinary hero, The Shawarma, somewhat amusing. Keep posts like this coming please :)

  42. makais on said:

    amazing photos, thank you

  43. makais on said:

    Reblogged this on Makais Blog and commented:
    amazing photos

  44. This has got to be the most amazing adventure I’ve ever seen yet. Congratulations on your wonderful photos and the unforgettable experience. Thank you for sharing them :-))

  45. WOW. This would be a dream come true for me! Thank you for sharing.

  46. This looks amazing! I especially love your first picture. Cappadocia is definitely on my ‘to travel’ list.

  47. These photographs are outstanding. Great post. I certainly will be a daily visitor to you site. My wife and I love to travel and you have certainly given us additional destinations to consider. Looks like a great deal of fun. Again–great post.

    • Uh oh, traveling is contagious. We thought this trip would cross-out adn make our list smaller…no. The destinations and sights keep accumulating. This is a wonderful world to see!

  48. Pingback: The Unbelievable Cappadocia (by Nathan) | birdmanps

  49. Turkeylicious!

  50. Those hot air balloon photos are unbelievably awesome. The rest are great too! Nice work!

  51. so beautifully captured. in fact, u have so well coloured (using it for ‘captured’) the balloons :)

  52. We also went to cappadocia last year. I posted 4 albums on cappadocia on my Turkey and Greece blog.
    Your pix are beautiful! I am reblogging your post to one of my blogs to share with my friends who were also there. Thank you for sharing. Congrats on Freshly Pressed!

  53. Reblogged this on My Notebook and commented:
    Beautiful album and writing.

  54. Amazing photographs and blog! You’ve found a new follower, thank you!

  55. Nurul Fitri Lubis on said:

    I love Cappadocia. I went there on last September. It was only two days and not enough to explore all beauty things in Cappadocia. The rock formations are amazing, the foods are delicious. I hope I can go there someday, again. I also wrote about my journey while I was in Cappadocia.
    keep writing,

  56. OyiaBrown on said:

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

  57. mochafrappe on said:

    Reblogged this on 0ReBlog0.

  58. I was there just a few weeks ago–I would recommend a Cappadocia adventure to almost anyone I know!

  59. letscriticize on said:

    Great post. Perfect shot!

  60. Wonderful blog post! Thank you so much for sharing your traveling adventures. Your hot air balloon photos are absolutely breathtaking.

  61. sumedha35 on said:

    A beautiful web with a different touch….!

  62. Pingback: Reblog Wednesday: The Unbelievable Cappadocia (by Nathan) « Becoming Author

  63. Turkey is one of the places I have told my muse we must go to. She was looking at the Mediterranean for a cruise and I kept yelling from the other room “Turkey! No port of call in Turkey, we don’t book that one!” Now I am even more convinced. Hell skip the cruise and go straight there.

  64. Chaotiqual on said:

    Reblogged this on chaotiqual.

  65. This is all so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  66. Now that looks like one amazing adventure! Nice photos btw.

    And now i’m hungry…

  67. Amazing. A place that makes you feel that magic is possible. Just breathtakingly beautiful!

  68. mdjasrie on said:

    I was a few years ago while having a vacation! I share your exact same sentiments about that place!!

  69. loved your pics and narration…comes at an opportune time…am planning my trip too :)

  70. Hi. Reposting that first picture on my blog – it’s beautiful. We’re going to Turkey for our honeymoon and couldn’t be more excited.

  71. Sheila britton on said:

    Wow, thank you for this – I’ve been
    thinking of going to Cappadocia for a while – your description and photos are wonderful

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