Friday, September 9, 2011

t u r k e y { c a p p a d o c i a }

Turkey is a huge country with a population of over 70 million people. Although Istanbul is its capital, there really is so much more to visit outside of this city. There is Ephesus and Selcuk if you are into the beach and the ancient Roman ruins. There is Olympus if you enjoy lush greenery and natural sight seeing. Many people though, choose to go to Cappadocia during their visit to this country. The terrain in this region is very, very different to the sights you would see anywhere else really. You’ll see in the photos below but to give you an overview, most people who come to Cappadocia will do so because they want to see the area on a hot air balloon or to simply go hiking. Hot air ballooning in this area is very popular because of it’s wide terrain and its unique landscape. Though expensive, I can tell you that it is well worth it but I will get back to that in a second :)

To get from Istanbul to Cappadocia, most people will choose to either fly or bus. I chose to bus for a few reasons: 1) it was cost efficient at only about 20 Euro’s and 2) it was an overnight bus which meant that I did not have to book any accommodation for that night of traveling. What I didn’t like about this trek was this: 1) it was a 12 hour trip on a bus with smelly people with excessive B.O. and 2) the bus was not air conditioned and the air flow was really bad. Naturally, negative points 1 and 2 together was a very bad combination and this made for a very long and tiring trip. Though I might have saved 80-100 Euros, I had barely any sleep by the time I reached Goreme, Cappadocia. I was not a happy camper but anyway, it was my vacation so no point in complaining! The one consolation is the fact that I got to see one of most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen while on the bus. To give you an idea of what it looked like, it was dark all around except in the horizon where all you could see was mountains, all layered due to their distances away from one another. There was nothing else around us but flat land and endless highway but it was in that horizon that you could see vivid shades of navy blue, purple and even closer to the horizon still, bright orange and reds. I really wanted to get off the bus and take a picture but unfortunately you can't do that! This is why road trips are the best because you can do that whenever you want! Anyway, enough side tracking. The point is, if any of you are considering going to Cappadocia via Istanbul, consider the flight – you will be much more comfortable.

Now, onto the visit: I spent a total of 2 nights and 3 days in Goreme. Cappadocia itself is a huge region, much bigger than I originally thought. Those who visit will likely stay in the Goreme town though. First impressions were that this town was a bit of a ghost town. I don’t mean that in a bad way but coming from Istanbul where there is all this bustlin’ activity, Goreme contrasts greatly. There are a number of restaurants with local Turkish cuisine but don’t expect any bars – there aren’t any.

Hiking - This is a place you go if you enjoy out door activities. I met two girls from New York (Lindsay and Alexandra) and we went out for a hike in the red valley. It was a 5 hour hike in the scorching sun but it was loads of fun and the views made it worthwhile. Between the ghetto speak, the freshly squeezed orange juice, the random fruit picking and the cart wheels, I think we all had a good time! Team KAL made it through alive and well :) In all honesty, it was great meeting you two! We’ll have to meet up again in NYC next time ;)

There are a number of other hikes that you can do while you are here as well so if you like this kind of stuff, make sure you have your hiking boots and sunscreen!


Hot Air Balloon - Like I said before, the main attraction to Cappadocia is the hot air balloon ride. You can book this practically anywhere but expect to pay anywhere around 120-150 Euros per person. The tour group will pick you up from your hotel/hostel at 5am in the morning and you will likely take flight at around 6am. Depending on the time of year that you go, this could be during sunrise or just after it has already come over the horizon. Nevertheless, you are in for some breathtaking views! I was never one to think that I would be interested in hot air balloons at all but I was so glad that I did this one. The flight was smooth and lasted over an hour – though, the pilot gave us a few frights as we almost hit a bridge and a Cliffside :p (I hope she did this on purpose?). Anyway, after an hour and about 100 clicks on the camera later, we were on the ground. It was spectacular and I would recommend anyone do the same. Just remember to wake up on time! I was woken up by mad pounding on my door because I turned off the alarm and went straight back to sleep! D:

Tour - Another popular thing to do around here is to go on an organized tour. I'm not usually a tour type of person because I like to walk around and explore on my own but in an area that is just so big and with the attractions so far apart, it is one of the more efficient ways of seeing the attractions in one go. The most popular tours are the red and green tours. Both are apparently good options but I had to go for the green one for the fact that they took you away from the town of Goreme and into the canyons and an underground city. It was neat to see I guess but after a whole day on this tour, I was itching to walk off on my own. I did meet some cool peeps on this trip as well though, including these two Aussies who wore their hats in the scorching heat all day!

Sunset Point - One other thing you can do while in Goreme is to go up to Sunset point. It is a small climb up to the tip of this mountain but it is situated right in the center of the town and provides a nice view of the sunset. If you get up here during the call of prayer, it gives that much more impact to you being there. It really makes you realize that you are away from the western world.

My two nights were spent in the Guven Cave Hotel (or hostel). It was cheap and comfortable enough. The most important bit was the roof top terrace with the view of the sunset!

Cappadocia was a very worth while side trip - particularly when you have as much as a week in Turkey. The scene might differ from Istanbul in that it is much, much quieter, but for me, it was a good getaway. The added bonus of being able to hike, enjoy the sun, and see the sunrise on a hot air balloon and it is a no brainer to me that anyone who goes to Turkey should come here.  


  1. Wow, never seen anything like that. Bucket list: air balloons in Turkey

  2. Hmm...I could have sworn that you had another Turkey (Istanbul) post here. I left this comment on that one, but here goes again:

    Your pictures are wonderful! I especially love the ones from the hot air balloon. What lenses do you usually take on your trips? I noticed (in the Istanbul set) that you had a few wide angle shots, and it also looked like you had a prime lens.

    Chinwe (

  3. Michelle, you definitely should! Perfect excuse to go into Turkey :)

    Chinwe, I responded in the previous post on Istanbul whereas this one is on Cappadocia. I only brought along two lenses on this trip. The Canon 35mm F1.4 and the Carls Zeiss 21mm F2.8.

  4. Dude, the frame with the balloons and the god beams, amazing stuff! Bridge and I have been thinking about going to Turkey since she has friends there. Great post man.

  5. Ugh, I want to fly in a balloon! How cool is that?!! Really awesome stuff in this blog, Kelven. I really like the canyon photos too!!!