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Article Words : Wanderlust Journeys | 10 April

6 ways to explore Cappadocia

This Turkish gem is an adventure seeker's paradise - as our Wanderlust Journeys team discovered...

1 Horse riding

The name ‘Cappadocia’ is thought to derive from an old Persian word meaning ‘land of beautiful horses’, and clip-clopping among the vineyards and fairy chimneys is certainly the most peaceful way to experience the valleys.

Several companies offer horse-riding packages, from one-hour tasters to multi-day trips (from €23 for one hour; www.kadost.com).

2 Hot-air ballooning

Myriad multicoloured balloons rise from the valleys around Göreme at sunrise each day, offering a unique perspective on the fairy chimneys and, if it’s clear, Mt Erciyes in the distance (from €165; www.kapadokyaballoons.com).

If you don't have a head for heights, arrive in Görkündere (Love) Valley before dawn for a magical view of the hot-air balloon morning lift-off. Afterwards, admire the valley’s unique rock formations and let the stream guide you between fruit trees and vineyards to the town of Avanos.

3 Day tours

Many local companies offer colour-coded day tours. The Green tour is an easy and efficient option for seeing distant sites such as underground cities; the Red tour includes Göreme Open Air Museum. This monastic settlement, dating back to the ninth century, is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Visit the rock-cut churches late on a week day, when the crowds have cleared and the light is at its best.

4 Hiking

Cappadocia offers some of the best walks in Turkey, for hikers of all levels of fitness. Options include the magical Rose Valley, dramatic Soğanlı Valley and the lunar-like Devrent Valley. A guide is advisable; try www.walkingmehmet.net or www.middleearthtravel.com.

The unique 'Fairy Chimney' rock formations are seen at their most spectacular in the aptly named Love Valley or at Pasabag.

5 Mountain biking

A network of narrow trails twists through and over the valleys, outcrops and rock formations, making this the perfect spot for an exploration by bike, whatever your level of experience. For more info, see www.bikinginturkey.com.

6 Eating and drinking

Cappadocia is Turkey’s key wine-producing area. Many domestic grape varieties, such as emir and öküzgözü (ox-eye), are grown here as well as better known grapes (cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay). The two main wineries are Turasan in Ürgüp (which has a fine visitors’ centre) and Kocabağ in Uçhisar.

Local house wine can be inexpensive, but consider spending a little more for a fine Turasan sauvignon blanc or full-bodied Turasan syrah.


The Cappadocia assignment
In September 2013, five readers joined Wanderlust’s founder and editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes and photographer Paul Harris on a Wanderlust Journey to research and photograph Cappadocia. The team – Nicola Brown, Kav Dadfar, Maria Hart, Lori Anne Heckbert and Sorcha Holloway – compiled everything in this feature, and more. Thanks go to Paul Harris, Redmint Communications, Eren Serpen and Pat Yale.