I wake up in my bivy bag to the incredible sight of hundreds of brightly coloured balloons lifting off the ground in the Red and Rose Valleys below the camping ground. It is absolutely spectacular. I’d head that there were lots of balloon flights here in Cappadocia but was not prepared for it to be this stupendous. What a sight! An invigorating way to start the day.
After a good 4-5 hours of work I head off to explore the nearby landscape. There are a couple of geocaches hidden in the nearby area that have my name on them. The first leads me to a mammoth rocky outcrop with magnificent views of the villages and castles in the distance.
I had to walk about 2km to arrive at this point, including quite a long crossing of prickly grasses. It seems like a good moment to get my first jumping in Turkey photo. I realise I haven’t taken one yet so now is a good time (thank goodness for self-timers on cameras).
After collecting the geocache I run down towards Goreme following some random trails through valleys and little farms. My run includes the amazing Sword Valley. I took a video, which I think shows it better than sharing a million photos.
Though I will share this one of me climbing down one of the big drops in the Sword Valley. Good thing the rocks are grippy or it would have been scary in places.
After a simple lunch in touristy Goreme I walked back up the road towards the camping to find another geocache hidden with a view of some gorgeous fairy chimneys.
Instead of continuing on the road, I explored some of the trails around the fairy chimneys along the road. This is a pick your own adventure place. You can rush by tour bus to the Open Air Museum and pay money to see the chimneys or you can just pull on a sturdy pair of shoes and explore at your own discretion. There is so much free stuff to see here. I spent about two hours meandering around between Goreme and the Kaya Camping, just 2km from the town. It was magnificent. Sometimes I’d take high trails and others low ones. And at times I did both because there was more to see.
I mean, check out these rock formations.
And the way the area is not just an old museum; it’s a real place where people live and work. There were cattle tethered behind some of the mounts and bales of hay stored in others. Epic stuff.
I think this is my favourite photo of the trip. Maybe even of the past eighteen months.
If you come to Cappadocia, do it like a turtle does: slow and steady. I didn’t see any of the underground cities or museums. And I spent almost nothing. But yet I had a wonderful time. The landscapes are stunning, the atmosphere at Kayak Camping was brilliant with loads of overlanders with epic stories of crazy travels through the Far East. I could have stayed a week but decided that tomorrow I will push on north.