This Valley or That Valley? – Hiking in the other-worldly landscape of Cappadocia

We were in Turkey in April 2013 and Cappadocia (with Goreme as the base) was our second stop in the country. After a cloudy, stormy first day in the area, we were absolutely thrilled when the clouds began to clear on Day 2.

Having received very strong recommendations, we headed to the Goreme Open Air Museum as our first sight for the day. Maybe we had the wrong expectations, but it turned out to be a bunch of ancient cave churches with long, snaking queues of senior citizens and high school tour groups. After an hour of under-appreciation of the place, we decided to cut our losses and head to the next thing to do on our agenda – hiking in the valleys of Cappadocia. On a recommendation from our pension’s front desk staff (lovely place that cave pension, but a post on that later), we zeroed in on the Rose Valley. A personal guide and a drop and pick-up came for a nominal price (when split across four of us) that I fail to recall.

Our ride to the valley
Our ride to the valley

The Rose Valley hike was an easy walk, of about 3 hours. You should carry water and some snacks. There are a couple of temporary refreshment stalls along the way, but I wouldn’t count on them. Having a guide isn’t really needed if you have an appetite for adventure but it is easier with one – he can also tell you about the rock formations, cave churches and other points of interest along the way. We also passed a few vineyards (in what we thought was ‘the wild’ but I guess, wasn’t) and apple trees in blossom along the way.

The hike was mostly along a well-worn path and we, anyway, did not need to consult a map because we were following our local guide. The valley itself is absolutely stunning with incredible rock formations of pink, red, yellow, white. The formations are the labour of millions of years of natural erosion. Amazes me how a process that is supposed to wear down and destroy, actually ends up creating something entirely new.

We also hiked (a part of) the Love Valley by ourselves but the Rose Valley is an easy win, if you have to pick one between the two. Love Valley is mostly phallic ‘fairy chimneys’ (now you know what Love’s got to do with it). Interesting, but no match for the sweeping, fascinating views that the Rose Valley hike ends with. We were surprised to not have run into any other hikers in the valley but maybe that’s for the better – too many people would substantially subtract from the experience.

The, erm - Love Valley
The, erm – Love Valley

Weather-wise, I recommend travelling to Turkey in spring / fall as 30 degrees C-plus day-time temperatures during the summer are just too hot to be roaming around in (unless you’re looking for a particularly strong tan). We were there in the third week of April, and the sunny days were just perfect at day-time peaks in the early-twenties (degrees C).

It’s also possible to do the same Rose Valley hike in time for the sunset – likely that it’s even more mesmerizing. But we have to save something for our future visits, don’t we? 🙂

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