Written May 8, 2012
After yesterday’s on and off drizzle I was up at first light, just after 5AM, checking the weather. In the dim light I could just make out clear skies. Tried to go back to sleep but the promise of perfect morning light lured me outside again to check the sunrise and which valley would benefit from that early morning glow. Turned out to be our Pigeon Valley just across the road from the hotel with fabulous views of the Uchisar castle beyond. That’s all I needed to know. I grabbed my camera bag and left Don sleeping in the room.
By this time the sun had risen over the hill and the first rays started to splash across the valley. Lured by the lit chimney formations I made my way into the valley and up the western wall.
By this time balloons were starting to fill the sky to the east,
one or two floated through my valley,
but mostly I had the place to myself. Just me and these magical cones against a backdrop of crystal blue sky.
Back at the hotel for breakfast on the outside terrace. Such a contrast from the day before when everyone was huddle at the few tables inside. Today guests had plenty of room to enjoy the sun drenched terrace.
After a brief consultation with one of clerks at the hotel reception desk we decided on the walk through the Rose Valley. He advised us to start the loop hike from the hotel, first walking past the open air museum to the start of the Red Valley followed by Rose Valley (a turn off to the left just after the Kaya camping ground). At the first fork take the road to the left (the one along exterior wall of the camp ground). At the end of the wall there will be a path to the right that will take you down to the Rose Valley trail.
Although the trail is not well signed it is well used enough that it is not difficult to follow. The first section passes through a narrow canyon with myriad picturesque dwellings carved into the soft pinkish stone,
and the open air Nature Café.
Past the canyon the landscape opens up and the trail becomes more of a road. To the right are numerous trails that wind through the cone shaped rock formations (keep an eye out for the occasional chapel), walls of pink and white cliffs, and tiny vineyards.
Back on the trail (now a dirt road) to Cavusin you’ll reach a fork, approximately 1.5K to Cavusin, 3K back to Goreme and to the left a foot path that climbs over a hill. At the top of this hill is a large conical rock cave that looks like it is in the process of being renovated for current use. From here are stunning views back over the cliff face of Rose Valley.
Descending this hill you can go left (south) along one of the paths that wind through more rock formations or continue straight then turn left on one of the roads that will take you back into Goreme. Of particular interest is a large stone castle-looking structure that looks like it came out of an ancient dark fairytale, except for the fact that it glows a brilliant cream color.
From the castle you can wander through more rock formations.
Trails that head east (to your left) will take you back into Rose Valley while trails that head west (to your right) will take you to the main road going into Goreme. Round trip from Kelebek Hotel was approximately 8.2 miles with a 1000 foot change in elevation.
Later in the evening we headed up to Goreme’s sunset hill, a popular spot with both locals and tourists. Next to the central mosque the road winds up to a plateau with views looking back over Goreme on one side and Rose Valley on the other. The sun setting over Pigeon valley splashes a golden glow over Red Valley and the pink rock face of Rose Valley to the east. This particular evening, albeit clear, was not particularly conducive to “good” color. None-the-less, it’s an enchanting viewpoint worthy of the hike or drive up.
For our last dinner in Turkey we went back to Seten Restaurant. Tonight we were seated in a smaller dining room towards the back of the restaurant. With just three candle lit tables, the simply decorated stone room has a decidedly romantic ambience. Started with the bulgur soup and the bulgur coated meatballs, a spicy ground meat and walnut mixture coated with crushed bulgur resembling football shaped corndogs. Both dishes were well prepared and deserving of our return visit. The mains, however, were more of a mixed bag. The lamb shank was fall-off-the-bone tender and accompanied by seasonal vegetables, but while the sausage patty on Don’s mixed grill platter had great flavor both the chicken and the lamb chops were a bit overcooked. Even worse one of our traveling companions was served tiny meatballs in a broth so salty it was practically inedible. Hands down the worst dish of the trip.