I will fear no troubles and need no guide.
If you happen to find yourself in the Cappadocia region of Turkey there are a few things that are not to be missed. There is the Goreme open air museum and the Valley of the Swords right next door, both of which show off some of the amazing cave dwellings that have withstood the sands of time. There’s also the underground cities that are pretty amazing to wander through, but don’t wander too far. If you get lost finding your way out may prove difficult. And don’t go if you’re claustrophobic or particularly large. There were some halls that we were struggling to get through and we’re both of reasonable size if not a bit tall.
And then there is the Ihlara Valley. Ihlara is a small town about an hour or so from Goreme and it represents the base of a beautiful hike along the side of a river that rests at the bottom of a gorge thousands of years old. It isn’t the Grand Canyon at all, so don’t go expecting something like that, but the canyon walls reach up a couple hundred feet and the area at the bottom is plenty wide for the river as well as hiking paths and, in some areas, fields for farming. It is the canyon walls that are half of the attraction for the hike, for within them there are churches that were carved in the 11th-13th centuries that still exist in various states of disrepair, but all of them well marked along the path and reasonably accessibly.
Hiking the Ihlara Valley is a cornerstone component of most of the day tours in the region, so you can always get to see it that way, but better than that is to do it on your own. It is incredibly well traveled so wandering off the path is virtually impossible. It follows a river, so you can’t really make a wrong turn. And it is great to be able to move at your own pace and take breaks when and you want to along the way. We hiked from the put-in just north of the Ihlara village all the way to the top end of the trail at Selime in about four hours. And that included a stop of about an hour in Belisirma (the middle of the three towns along the path) for a morning tea taken in a bungalow set up in the middle of the stream. Plus I stopped to take plenty of pictures. So really, the hike isn’t all that long, and it truly is beautiful.
The only down-side of doing it on your own is getting there and back. Ihlara is not in the same bus service region as Goreme, so that means you need to take a bus up to Nevsehir and then over to Aksaray and then down to Ihlara, a three-hour or more adventure, or you need to rent a car, which is what we did. Certainly not the cheapest way to do it, especially with fuel at over $10/gallon (YTL$3/litre) here, but it gave us the flexibility we needed and time was a bigger issue for us than the cost at that point.
So make the hike and do it on your own. Way more enjoyable than doing it with a guide, in my opinion.
Also, more pictures coming when Internet service is a bit more reliable, but hopefully these will help whet your appetite for the hike.
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.