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- A practical guide to Cappadocia
The unique terrain of Cappadocia is ideally suited to trekking of all levels. All manner of hiking trails and walk paths abound – leading through the hearts of the canyons beneath the trees on the valley floors, and up above on the cliff edges, with dramatic views across the entire landscape. There is much for the discerning visitor to learn from the Cappadocia region. You could explore the plethora of cave churches that are scattered throughout the canyons and valleys. Or you may decide to visit the many museums such as the wonderfully preserved Göreme Open Air Museum where the story of the region is old in clear and graphic detail. You can explore rock churches dating from the fourth century and frescoes from the eighth. Alternatively experience the surreal feeling of exploring one of the underground settlements such as the one at Kaymakli.
Although there are many hiking trails throughout the valleys of Cappadocia, so far only basic sketch maps are available, and signposts inadequate. (Update: see our maps here).
The hidden underground churches are just that - hidden ! Some visitors, visiting without a guide, (ahem... including me), have been frustrated to have walked past them without seeing the entrance, or in fact realising that they had walked past them.
Normally I prefer organising my own trips and exploring places on my own when I am on holiday. But I would make an exception for Cappadocia since there are times and places where having a guided visit can be more interesting and also more economical. Your guided tour includes comfortable transport in a minibus with A/C, entries to museums and sites and lunch and of course an English-speaking guide. For sites like Ihlara Valley, for example, (about 90km from Ürgüp), or the tours which include any of the underground cities, where regular public transport is thin on the ground, it is well worth taking a guided tour. It is also worth noting that guiding in Turkey is strictly controlled and all guides must have accreditation from the Turkish Tourism Authorities, subject to having a university degree or an officially recognised diploma in tourism.
Of course if you are good at map-reading (which I am definitely not, and I can get lost in a shopping centre!) there are plenty of walks and sights to do at your own pace and under your own steam. Otherwise here are a few of the companies in Cappadocia which have a good reputation for guiding in the area.
Based in Göreme, in the heart of Cappadocia, the land of fairy chimneys and amazing landscapes, 2K Travel Agency offers regular and tailor-made private tours and excursions. They also organise a large range of exciting activities and tours in Cappadocia as well as throughout all Turkey. Owned and run by an experienced husband-and-wife travel team, 2K Travel can help plan your travel anywhere, but their specialities include local Cappadocia cultural tours and ATV tours. What makes 2K travel special is the enthusiasm and professionalism of Gönul and Levent, whose main focus is on customer satisfaction whether for a day tour, a plane booking or a vacation visiting sites all around Turkey. Whatever your budget is and whatever your interests are, 2K Travel will go all out to make sure that your experience in Turkey is amazing. SponsorSee rates
Angelos Travel is a class A licensed travel agency in Göreme which organizes tours in Cappadocia and throughout Turkey. Well known in Cappadocia, they organise day trips, hot air balloon flights and also organize airport transfers at any time of the day. In groups or in private tours, they will find for your whole family what you want. In addition they are specialised in renting scooters and mountain bikes, as well as ATMs (Quads) which are very useful for visiting Cappadocia differently, at your own pace. With over 15 years of experience in Turkey, and many destinations across Turkey, including Cappadocia, Istanbul, Konya, Mount Nemrut, Eastern Turkey and the ancient cities of Troy, Pergamon, Ephesus and Pamukkale, Angelos Travel offers a great quality of guided tours. SponsorSee rates
Of all the places to visit in Turkey, Cappadocia is the most fascinating and the weirdest. The lunar landscapes sculpted from volcanic eruptions combined with rain and wind erosion over millennia have created fantastic shapes and fairy chimneys. Take a tour through the astonishing valleys, discover the Byzantine churches directly carved in the rock and decorated with coloured frescoes in the Göreme Open Air Museum. Ride through the Red Valley on an ATV and be amazed by the beautiful rock colours. Ride the valleys on horseback, on a mountain bike, with a jeep safari. Discover the underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkyu which descend into the earth and are honeycombed with miles of tunnels.
And of course you can't miss the experience of a lifetime, floating over these unreal landscapes in hot air balloon at sunrise, a fairytale come true! Enjoy a dreamy glide over Cappadocia, the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion whether it is a wedding, a honeymoon, a wedding anniversary or just a special date for you.
The expert team at Cappadocia Tours and Travel will help you choose from the many exciting tours and activities and find you the best price to suit your budget. SponsorSee rates
HATTI TRAVEL, specialised in cultural and adventure tours, invites you to a unique journey throughout Turkey. Hatti Travel considers tourism as a means of bringing people closer together through "cultural participation"; they propose not only an amazing trip through lands of mysterious beauty, but also the opportunity of meeting local people and learning about a different culture. At Hatti Travel, the highly professional tour consultants have 40 years experience of organising relaxing and memorable tailor-made trips throughout Turkey. They would be happy to suggest ideas to complement your own and to organise the most appropriate programme to suit your cultural interests, time and budget. Let them guide you through you the wonders of Turkey on an unforgettable journey of cultural discovery. SponsorSee rates
Cappadocian Guide is a well-known travel agency in Göreme specializing in excursions and activities in Cappadocia.
It offers its customers various activities such as balloon flights, camel rides and excursions of several days horseback riding around the different valleys of Cappadocia; the more daring can learn to ride a quad around the amazing valleys or go on a jeep-safari aboard a comfortable 4x4. After your day's adventures you can relax by going to a dinner show of traditional Turkish folk dances or go and watch the famous whirling dervishes ceremony. In addition, Cappadocian Guide can take care of your airport transfers and will offer tours from Cappadocia, as far as Nemrut, Göbeklitepe, Hattusas, Pamukkale and Ephesus - the famous ancient city. Get off the beaten path, break way from the herd and treat yourself to an authentic experience with their experienced guides who speak your language. The agency's guides speak English of course as well as French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese - yes, all those languages! Located in the center of Göreme it is an excellent starting point for all your excursions. Highly recommended. Sponsor
The quiet green beauty of the Black Sea coast represents one of the outstanding scenic beauties of Turkey. The pine forested mountains, and lush valleys and hills run to a coastline of rare beauty with untouched beaches.
Discover this treasure trove of architectural and cultural wonders left by the Byzantine and Hellenic empires. Retrace the path of the historic Silk Road from Istanbul and explore Trabzon, Van, the spectacular Kackar Mountains, the craggy Mount Ararat, the extraordinary hanging monastery of Sumela, the verdant Ayder plateau and Uzungol, a hidden paradise in the Pontic Alps.
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The Turquoise Coast of Turkey is magnificent - long swathes of sandy beaches lapped by peacock blue waters which reflect the pine-covered slopes. Beyond the crystal waters of the Lycian paradise from Antalya to Fethiye lie the ancient cities of Tlos, Perge, Side and the spectacular theatre of Aspendos. Discover the rock tombs of Myra and Dalyan, marvel at the sunken city of Simena, take a boat trip or try diving in the crystal-clear waters.
Turkey's sparkling Aegean coast hosts the remains of civilisations dating back thousands of years. A guided tour of Ephesus and the temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, is a highlight of any visit to Turkey. Nearby, the ancient sites of Priene and Miletus, and the temple at Didyma are full of archaeological wonders.
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South-East Turkey and Eastern Anatolia, the ultimate junction of East and West. Visit the ancient civilisations of Sanliurfa, Gaziantep and Mardin, the beehive houses of Harran, as well as the extraordinary ancient temple of Göbekli Tepe, which outdates Stonehenge by 6000 years. Climb to the top of Mount Nemrut at sunrise to admire the colossal stone head statues which guard the resting place of King Antiochus of the Kingdom of Commagene.
The rich ancient history of these parts mixed with the warm human fabric of the region gives a special atmosphere which makes it uniquely different from other regions of Turkey. Turkey Holiday Experts will help you uncover the legendary treasures of Mesopotamia, the birthplace of civilisation. SponsorSee rates
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Why not hire a private guide? There are numerous benefits to hiring your own personal tour guide. Among them are flexibility of schedule and destination, a personalised tour design to include your particular interests, personalised attention and local cultural insight from your own private guide.
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