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Adventure Travel

Exploring Cappadocia: Why three days is not enough!

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Along with hot air ballooning, Cavusin Castle, underground cities, and much more, the entire region of fairy chimneys and churches is just waiting to be explored!

Cappadocia (a magical region within Turkey) is often promoted as a destination which can be ticked off within 3 days, but in that time you would be hard pushed to see, let alone enjoy what Cappadocia has to offer. We were lucky enough to stay in Göreme for 6 nights, and recommend giving yourself the maximum time you possibly can.

Pasabagi, Cappadocia

View of Pasabagi, Cappadocia

Tourists are often given a map dividing Cappadocia into two zones, which supposedly only take one day each. But there is absolutely no way you will see everything in that short space of time. Plus, take our advice, there is a lot more than what is shown on that map!

Simple map of Cappadocia

Hope you have more than one day to do everything in this zone! We have added our notes and a route we suggest

How to get to Cappadocia?

Buses to Cappadocia run from all main destinations and are very easy to book at the travel offices and bus stations. However, make sure you book at least a couple of days ahead during peak season as the seats do sell out! There are also two airports near Cappadocia (Kayseri and Nevsehir).

Where to stay in Cappadocia?

Make sure you book accommodation in or near Göreme. There are tonnes of places to choose from, but if a hostel with a great atmosphere and helpful staff is what you are after, then we recommend Nomad Cave Hotel.

Nomad Cave Hotel

Hanging out with fellow travellers at Nomad Cave Hotel

Do I have to wear covered clothing in Cappadocia?

With the heat constantly being above 30 degrees during July, we were very pleased that covered clothing was not necessary in Cappadocia (we were sweating enough in our shorts and singlet’s!)

Restaurants and cafes in Cappadocia

Whether you are after a traditional meal in a Clay Pot or a cheap eat, Cappadocia has a lot to choose from. As a special treat on my birthday we ate at Topdeck Cave Restaurant and it did not disappoint!

Hiring mountain bikes in Cappadocia

There are many places to hire mountain bikes in Göreme (ours cost 5TL per hour). We recommend exploring Kilclar Valley, Kizilcukur Red Valley or Gulludere Rose Valley by bike. We attempted to explore Kilclar and Kizilcukur Red Valley, however we quickly realised our biking ability and confidence was not quite a match for the fairy chimneys and steep hills, but made the best of it.

By late afternoon we had discovered tunnels that were not on the map, started to gain some confidence and were just attempting to literally haul our bikes through another tunnel in Kizilcukur Red Valley, when a guide and his private tour came up behind us. I felt like a complete muppet to be found struggling in what must have looked an awkward manner! Therefore, I recommend locking your bike to a tree BEFORE this tunnel!

Bike in Cappadocia Cave

Attempting to literally haul our bikes through a tunnel in Kizilcukur Red Valley

Tips for exploring the valleys in Cappadocia:
– You will get very thirsty from the heat so the tea gardens selling water/juice and snacks will certainly appeal. Therefore make sure you take cash and some loose change.
– When hiring bikes, make sure you get a bike lock as you will probably want to explore some areas by foot.
– In the Kilclar Valley, was south past the tea garden, climb up the cavern and when the path forks, take the first left towards the tunnel. This tunnel continues for a fair way and in some areas requires a torch!

Trek the valleys and fairy chimneys

If you are not a confident mountain biker or you have enough time to explore both on foot and bike, then we recommend grabbing a large water and your walking shoes and getting out there! Our day with the bikes turned into half walking half biking, and was a lot of fun but we only saw a tiny percent of Cappadocia in a day. Anywhere in the region including Kilclar, Kizilcukur Red or Gulludere Rose Valley are great to explore.

Trekking with Middle Earth Travel
We highly recommend going on a tour with Middle Earth Travel. We were lucky enough to meet Atil, a tour guide and Operations Manager of Middle Earth Travel on our first day in Cappadocia. We found him extremely knowledgeable and after he survived 101 questions from Moss, we realised just how much we were missing as we attempted to explore the valley’s of Cappadocia on our own.

So, a few days later, on what happened to be my birthday, we had the pleasure of being taken on a private tour with Middle Earth Travel. They have a huge range of tours available, and even though we would have loved to do them all, we ended up doing the On Top of Cappadocia tour. We had an amazing day and walked a total of 15km! Take a look at my blog about the adventure – Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel.

Top of Cappadocia Trekking

View from the Top of Cappadocia with Middle Earth Travel

The Green Tour day trip
Another tour on offer to explore Cappadocia is called the Green Tour. For about 100TL per person, it takes tourists to the Underground City, Selime Cathedrale and a few other attractions. Unfortunately the day trip did not quite meet our expectations, as we felt rushed at each main attraction, and would have loved an extra 20 minutes to explore all the nooks and crannies!

Any comments or questions are welcome! Please also take a look at my blog Top 10 Things to see and do in Cappadocia. 

Since May 2014, Rebecca has been wearing out her jandals. She loves anything that involves the ocean whether it be scuba diving, wakeboarding, jet skiing or more recently - sailing! Consider following her via RSS Feed, Twitter and Facebook.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon

    August 16, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    That is one place I’ve wanted to go for ages! Thanks for all the tips!! 🙂

  2. Michael

    September 18, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    Great place i really like this place.. good informative share..

  3. Kristy

    September 24, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    The tunnel is too narrow but I would like to experience it someday. I hope I can go to Cappadocia.

  4. Vaughan

    October 22, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    What an awesome post! We are pumped up for a future Turkey trip and I’ll be bookmarking your site for help when we do start planning. Great post, great blog! Congrats on your recent Flipkey Top 25 Award 🙂

    • Rebecca Barlow

      October 23, 2014 at 2:32 AM

      Thanks Vaughan, you will have an amazing time in Turkey! We spent 9 weeks there and had a blast 🙂

  5. Lina @ Divergent Travelers

    October 31, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    Cappadocia is on our list for our upcoming visit to Turkey. Good to know that it is worth a few more days, I think so many people just rush through things like this and don’t get to really experience the magic. Cheers!

    • Rebecca Barlow

      November 3, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      Yes, there is so much to do in Cappadocia. You will have an amazing time!

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Adventure Travel

Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.

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Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

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Adventure Travel

Hammock vs Tent Camping

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Camping with a hammock is slowly but surely becoming more popular in recent years with new and improved hammock designs being preferred by some campers, compared to the traditional tent.

In this article we will discuss some of the key benefits and drawbacks of sleeping without a tent, and analyze key criteria so that you can choose your preferred shelter choice!

Weatherproof

Most tents work well in the rain; however, you’ll need to bring a tarp if you’re using a hammock. Traditional hammocks are not waterproof, and are generally open at the top, allowing water to find itself inside if you don’t have an adequate tarp. Moreover, a decent under quilt is also a good idea so that you can stay warm and cozy during cold and stormy nights.

Packing up your hammock after a long night of rain isn’t too bad, whereas packing up a soaking wet tent is always annoying. You almost always get wet in the process.

Setup

For first time campers, pop-up tents are the simplest to setup. All you need to do is find flat ground, and bam, your setup is complete! The beauty of pop-up tents is that you don’t need to worry about figuring out where to insert the poles and erect the tent. Although, traditional tents are usually more robust, and have a longer life span.

Essentially, a tent is simple, but a hammock can become a little more complicated for first timers. You’ll need to find 2 trees facing a good direction and tie each end of the hammock to them. If your hammock setup is too tight, you will generally wake up with sore ancles, but if it’s too loose, you run the risk of the hammock touching the floor, and insects crawling in with you.

If your campground doesn’t have many trees, or if the trees are dead (they could break and injure you), hammock stands come to the rescue! Basically, hammock stands allow you to pitch a hammock if there are no trees nearby. They are portable, adjustable, and are easy to setup. The only drawback is that the ground should be relatively flat, whereas if you were to hang a hammock between 2 trees, there won’t be any stands touching the ground, so a rocky floor wouldn’t be a problem.

Comfort

One of the main reasons for choosing a hammock is the comfort that it provides you! It has a basically has in-built seat which is arguably more comfortable than a standard blow up mattress. You need to pick your tree’s wisely though! You don’t want a pinecone falling on your face mid-sleep.

If you have constant back pain and find it hard to sleep inside tents, you should give hammocks a try as they cause you to sleep sideways, similar to a banana shape, which a lot people find much more comfortable.

Price

Hammocks are usually lighter and don’t include a wealth of poles and gear that tents do. Depending on the type of hammock that you purchase, they are usually quite similar to tents. You can however, find very cheap tents <$60, but they most likely won’t last long.

A good tent or hammock can cost between $200-500 without accessories. If you need a hammock stand, that will add to your cost, just like a mattress and other tent necessities will to its cost.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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