Lisa Owen

In the shadow of mountains in Turkey’s centre lies the unique landscapes of the Cappadocia region. Cappadocia is best known for its hot air ballooning – and yes, it was as good as I thought it would be. 

Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia

The Cappadocia region was formed by volcanoes, and the peaks of three volcanoes are still present in the area. These volcanoes erupted millions of years ago and covered the region in ash and mud. Put simply, this compressed to form a material called tuff. Over time, the tuff blended with local rock, then eroded to produce the unique landscapes you see today in Cappadocia.

cappadocia

Floating over the unusual rocky landscapes of Cappadocia as the sun rose was a surreal experience. In the darkness, dozens of colourful balloons were inflated and gas burners roared to life. One by one the balloons become airborne, floating gracefully into the pale dawn skies.

cappadocia hot air ballooning

Once my balloon became airborne, we floated above all the other balloons up to a height of 700 metres and looked down at the balloons as they traversed the rock formations. The balloon operator took us both above and below all the other balloons and showed off the best parts of the Cappadocia rock formations. The whole balloon ride lasted for about an hour before we set down in a field and were offered a glass of champagne to celebrate.

Hot Air Ballooning in Turkey

Prices range for a hot air balloon flight so you can shop around. I went with a company that I organised through my hostel Dorm Cave by Travellers. Apart from a hot air balloon ride, there is plenty of other things to do in the Cappadocia region, such as the Goreme Open Air Museum, Rose Valley, and the Derikuyu Underground City.

Goreme Open Air Museum

The Goreme Open Air Museum features 11 monastic complexes cut into the rock, each with their own colourful churches. These churches are filled with beautiful frescos.

Goreme Open Air Museum

One of my favourite churches was the Carikli (Sandals) Church, which dates back to the 12th century. The frescos are very well preserved and bright.

Goreme Open Air Museum

The museum can be reached on foot in about 15 minutes from Goreme centre. There is an entrance fee and for a bit extra, you can also go inside the Dark Church within the open air museum. You reach the church via a winding tunnel.

Hiking Rose Valley

Rose Valley is another popular activity in the Cappadocia region. You can do the hike with a guide for a small fee or it’s easy to do yourself with clear signage showing you the way. The path starts near the Open Air Museum on the opposite side of the road. Rose Valley is named because the rocks in this valley are light pink in colour.

Rose Valley

The hike to Rose Valley is best timed to coincide with sunset. On a clear day, the viewpoint above the café in the valley offers a great place to watch the sunset. The hike takes about 45 minutes one way.

Cappadocia’s Underground Cities

The Cappadocia region is home to a number of underground cities. The Derinkuyu Underground City is located about an hour’s bus ride from Goreme and is the deepest underground city in the region. The underground city goes down about 85 metres in total and features cellars, tunnels, churches and residential areas – although less than half of the city can be visited.

Derinkuyu Underground City

It was thought the city was built to temporarily house people in case of an attack and was built with ventilation, water tanks and niches to store items. You can visit eight floors of the underground city. You can reach the Underground City by Nevşehir. Regular buses service the Cappadocia towns of Urgup and Goreme and stop at the Nevşehir Bus Station. From Nevşehir, catch the bus marked Underground City. It takes about 30 minutes. You can also visit the city via an organised tour. Derinkuyu is the deepest city, but the nearby Kaymakli is the largest. You can visit four of the eight floors of the city. Kaymakli is located between Derinkuyu and Neveshir.

Tours

There’s a large number of tours on offer across the Cappadocia Region. The most popular are the Green and Red Tours. The Red Tour takes you around the Goreme and Urgup area, while the Green Tour takes you south of Goreme, visits the Derinkuyu Underground City, and makes several photo stops so you can capture Cappadocia’s unique landscapes. Tours depart around 9.30am and return about 6pm.

Feeling hungry?

While in the Cappadocia region, make sure you order a Pottery Kebab. It’s a stew slow cooked in a clay pot. It’s served with a fire at the base of the pot, then the lid is cracked off, revealing a bubbling stew. Stews can be made with chicken, beef or vegetables. They’re available at most restaurants across the Cappadocia region.

Things You Should Know:

  • There are many hot air balloon operators in the Cappadocia region and some are more expensive than others largely dependent on time in the air. Shop around for the price that suits your budget.
  • If you plan to visit a number of sites in the Cappadocia region, consider buying a Cappadocia Pass.
  • The Cappadocia region is well serviced by public buses. Buses are clearly marked with their direction on a placard at the front. Tickets can be bought on the bus.
  • It’s easy to do Cappadocia independently. There are many day tours on offer to show you the sights.
  • Fancy staying in a cave? There’s dozens of hotels and hostels throughout Cappadocia that are built in the rock. I stayed at the Traveller’s Dorm Cave Hostel in Goreme and it’s a great choice for your Cappadocia adventure.
  • Turkey’s currency is the Turkish lira.
  • You can reach Cappadocia by bus from Istanbul or Ankara. You can also fly there from Istanbul or Ankara. The Cappadocia region is serviced by two airports. The Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport is the closest airport, but you can also fly to the Kayseri airport.

 

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.

 

 

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