Reader, Ngaire Sharples from Croydon, tells us about her walks the rugged valleys of Cappadocia in Turkey

Last year, my partner and I went on a walking holiday in Cappadocia. Right in the centre of Turkey, it’s an area of stunning natural beauty, with vast plains, rolling hills and volcanic peaks.

We were based at the family-run Green Hotel in the quiet, traditional village of Cavusin. Early every morning we would marvel at the sight of colourful hot-air balloons rising up from the rocks behind our hotel—there were over 100 each day—taking visitors for a bird’s-eye view of the rocky terrain. 

Ngaire Sharples and her partner in Turkey

Our minibus would drop us at a different point each day, leaving us to make our way through the various valleys on foot, enjoying the unique nature of each of the six gorges we trekked. We climbed the valley walls of Akvadi Valley and Pasabaglari Valley, which were stony and exposed, to Uchisar Citadel, the highest point in Cappadocia, which afforded amazing views across the hills and valleys. We followed tracks that the locals use, passing allotments of vines and vegetables, fed by the many streams that keep the valleys lush and green.

Each day brought new surprises, every time we turned a corner on the hiking track, or passed through a tunnel in the rock. We found strange rock formations, cave churches, houses built into solid rock, and windows high in the cliff faces that were built to house pigeons. And most incredible of all, large plateaus of “fairy chimneys”—with soft volcanic rock at the bottom and hard basalt on top, eroded by wind and rain to hew out myriad shapes and sizes.

We also visited the fascinating underground city of Kaymakli—the largest of many in Cappadocia—and in the Zindanonu Valley we saw the painted cave churches of the Göreme open-air museum. It’s the most captivating place I’ve ever been.

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