Most people are able to take in all the sights of Cappadocia through guided tours in about 2-3 days. Since we have the luxury of time, we opted to explore the majority of it on our own. One of the attractions of Cappadocia is the hiking trails through the various valleys. So we laced up our hiking boots today and went for a 5-hour hike.
The hotel owner gave us some pointers ahead of time so we were able to get to the trails without much problem. Plus, in the day of Google Maps, it’s really hard to get lost.
The loop hike has 3 legs. The first leg, from our hotel in Göreme to Uçhisar to the start of the Pigeon Valley trail head, is 2.9 miles on relatively flat terrain after an initial climb.
Cappadocia’s rocks were formed millions of years ago from volcanic ashes that solidified into tuff, which is relatively easy to chip away. This allows cave houses to be built, and stairs to be carved into the rocks.
Along the path we noticed fruit trees, pumpkin patches, and grape vines.
After what seemed like a very long “mile” (I’d mistakenly took the ‘time’ to hike this leg – 1 hour and 10 mins, for the distance in miles), we finally reached the Pigeon Valley trailhead.
We had the option of sticking to the Pigeon Valley trail to connect to the Love Valley trail, or to make a detour through Uçhisar town. The two locals (one of them was the farmer of a tiny orchard) we bumped into both advised us to hang a left past the orchard to go into town.
Once at the bottom of Uçhisar, we crossed the main road to get to the Love Valley trailhead. The trail forks out into a wider road on the left and a narrower trail on the right (with a sign “Lov Valley” pointing in that direction). The left leads to the Love Valley Panoramic point, where people drive to go watch the hot air balloons in the mornings, and the right is the hiking trail that ultimately brought us down into the valley.
The uninspiring trail went for another short distance before we came upon a jewelry and pomegranate juice vendor. We had been walking for about 3 hours by now subsisting on water and a grape here and there, so pomegranate juice sounded like a good idea. Unlike in Istanbul, the juice wasn’t mixed with any orange juice, and was much sweeter and tastier than the ones we had in Istanbul.
Luckily, I ask him about the Love Valley trail because he told us to go down the trail right next to his stand. Had we not asked, we would have kept going on the flat trail, which would have ended requiring us to turn back.
Thinking back, the placement of his juice stand is very strategic. He gets to pitch a sale to all the 5-10 hikers (according to his count) that come through all day.
Once we bid our goodbyes, we headed down into the valley.
We noticed small farms sprinkled along the right of the trail, as well as patches of grape vines throughout (taste tests indicated that these grapes were not as sweet). People are really living off the land.
As we ventured forth, the rock formations that give Love Valley its name started to come into view.
The final leg of the hike wasn’t interesting at all, as it was simply walking back to town along the roadway.
Total distance was 9 miles, not the 3 miles that I had promised Joe in the morning. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.