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21 Photos that will make you want to Hike in Turkey’s Rose Valley

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The Cappadocia region of Turkey is justifiably famous for its fairy tale landscape of wild rock formations and cave dwellings that date back thousands of years. Although ballooning is considered to be one of the best ways to appreciate the landscape, I looked forward to exploring the Rose Valley on foot.

The Rose Valley figures prominently in most tours of the Cappadocia region. I figured our group of four would need a guide to explore the area properly but as it turns out that is incorrect. It’s easy to do on your own and its’ a lot of fun to explore at your own pace. Plus it’s free.

Our day started with a drop-off at the trailhead for the Rose Valley, courtesy of the owner of the Sultan Cave Suites Hotel in Göreme (where we stayed for three nights). Your other option to get to the trailhead is a taxi ride. You can pick up a map from your hotel or Turkish Heritage Travel in town which will give you an overview of the trail but go prepared to explore. Signage isn’t great but it’s hard to get lost.

We knew we were in for a treat at the start of the Rose Valley hike

We knew we were in for a treat at the start of the Rose Valley hike

We started at a fork that pointed to the Red Valley in one direction and the Rose Valley in the other. We chose to do the Red Valley first and ended up coming back on the Rose Valley trail – though not by design. The two valleys run parallel to each other and are connected by a trail. Just start walking and see where you get to. We found it helpful to climb some of the hills to get an overview of the area. What surprised me most was the fact you we were never far from civilization. There were loads of views over to Göreme and on one section of the Rose Valley trail we could see Çavusin cave village. You could actually see trails leading to the village so it would be easy to bail if you wanted to.

We were lucky to visit the Rose Valley in fall when the colours were changing

We were lucky to visit the Rose Valley in fall when the colours were changing

It's not long before we get our first glimpse of the Rose Valley - note pink rocks

It’s not long before we get our first glimpse of the Rose Valley

Sweet wild grapes anyone?

Sweet wild grapes anyone?

Over the course of the day we explored the two valleys, winding our way between tight rocks, pulling ourselves up through narrow spaces and walking wild valley trails where orchards and grapes are grown. We explored the inside of one very old church and admired many a pigeon stoop. I’m no expert on pigeon poop but reportedly the stuff makes incredible fertilizer and that’s part of the reason the tomatoes taste so fantastic.

Hiking in the Rose Valley, Cappidocia

You can see people below but it takes a while to figure out how to get there

Hiking in the Rose Valley, Cappidocia

Well maintained trails in the Rose Valley

Pigeon roosts - built for their fertilizer and seen in many places on the Rose Valley hike

Pigeon roosts – built for their fertilizer

Hiking in the Rose Valley in Turkey

Trails winding through the rocks

Hiking in the Rose Valley, Turkey

Lunch with a view

You can see the town of Cavusin from the Rose Valley trails - Hiking in the Rose Valley

You can see the town of Cavusin from the Rose Valley trails

Hiking in the Rose Valley, Cappidociaa

Unfortunately some signage is painted onto the rock

The fairy chimneys are an extraordinary sight in Cappidocia

The fairy chimneys are an extraordinary sight; this one is home to an old church

Detail inside the old cave church - the ceiling is entirely covered with paintings - as seen on the Rose Valley hike in Cappidocia

Detail inside the old cave church – the ceiling is entirely covered with paintings

Some of the cave dwellings have a labyrinth of rooms inside

Some of the cave dwellings have a labyrinth of rooms inside

The landscape astonishes for the duration of the hike - the RED and ROSE VALLEY in Cappidocia

The landscape astonishes for the duration of the hike

Once we finished with the Rose and Red Valleys we elected to continue up the Meskendir Valley to the highway where we figured we could walk back to Göreme. The fellow pictured below had set up a shop providing fresh squeezed juice at the entrance to the valley. We couldn’t resist a glass of fresh squeezed pomegranate juice – a superfood as it turns out – and something we looked for on all our hikes on the Lycian Way at the end of the day.

Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice anyone? Great break while hiking in Cappidocia

Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice anyone?

It was an easy walk of about 4 kilometres up the valley. Again it surprised us with a cafe in what felt like the middle of nowhere – and then an open air art gallery. Although it’s considered shoulder season in late October, we did meet a number of hikers.

You find little cafes in the strangest of places - Hiking in Cappidocia

You find little cafes in the strangest of places

I never expected flowers to be blooming in late October in Cappidocia

I never expected flowers to be blooming in late October

Leaving the Rose Valley on a trail to the highway we came across a gallery and a fellow carrying a log for a fire at the cafe

Leaving the Meskendir Valley on a trail to the highway we came across a gallery and a fellow carrying a log for a fire at the cafe

Rock carving dovecote with Islamic art - Cappidocia region

Rock carving dovecote with Islamic art

The trail ends basically at a rubbish dump a hundred metres from the highway. By the time we got to the highway it was close to 5 and the sun sets by 6ish. At this point we didn’t have a very good idea of where we were going so we started walking in what felt like the right direction – and it turns out it was. Along the way we had picked up a stray dog so his safety was of concern near the highway as well. (On the Lycian Way some hikers had stray dogs join them for multiple days.)

Eventually we found someone who told us where we needed to go and with his instructions we all figured we’d be hiking back in the dark at the rate we were going. But within minutes along came an empty taxi – so we got back to Göreme in 10 minutes or so – before the sun set.

Our hike ends near some highway that connect to Goreme

Our hike ends near some highway that connect to Goreme

After hiking the two valleys we could have walked back to Çavesin and grabbed a taxi from there but I think the Meskendir Valley is well worth exploring.

If you visit this fascinating part of Turkey – which is a UNESCO World Heritage site – don’t forget a lunch and water. In summer the temperatures are very high so you’d want an early start. Late October turned out to be a great time to visit – cool at night and very comfortable during the day.

Have you ever traveled to Turkey? Did you make it to Cappadocia?

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • budget jan says:

    You walked further than we did Leigh and you got to see some lovely sights. The thing I love about the Rose Valley is that you are never far from civilisation and can make your hike as short or as long as you like. The scenery never disappoints. Gorgeous photos.

  • We’re hoping to go back to Cappadocia next year sometime as it’s an age since we were last there. These signposts for walking trails certainly weren’t there and we love a good walk around so trekking will definitely be on our itinerary when we do go again. Amazing place and love your photos. Julia

  • I love that you can hike this trail on your own, and that it’s free. I love the rock carvings, too!

  • Karen Warren says:

    I enjoy hiking but I don’t get on with it in very hot weather. But from what you say walking in the autumn could be very nice. Looks as if you passed some fabulous places on the way – I specially like the look of that cave church.

  • Nathalie says:

    I’ve seen tons of photos of Cappadocia from other writers but nothing like these, that church is absolutely breath taking!

  • Meg Jerrard says:

    Thanks for the tips Leigh – sounds like it really exceeded expectations. I love that the cafes are just randomly in the middle of no-where – quirky additions to the trail which really make it memorable :D

    I have always thought of Cappadocia as a ballooning destination, as you mentioned at the start, though now you’ve made me want to explore the region on foot. This is the first post Ive come across which has offered an insight into what it’s like to discover the region from the ground, so thanks for the inspiration!

  • Miranda says:

    The pomegranate juice and the beautiful paintings on the church walls would be reward enough explore these valleys. Add the crazy beautiful landscapes and what looks like a relatively easy go of things, I think this would be almost better than a hot air balloon ride. Great photos as usual Leigh!

  • Kristin says:

    Wow, what a stunning place with such amazing rock formations! I’d love to go hiking there, and it’s great to see another perspective on Cappadocia instead of the usual hot air balloon scenes. Great photos too!

    • @Kristin It’s good to get a different perspective of a place. When we were in Cappadocia the balloons weren’t flying because of clouds – and we really didn’t want to go anyway. It was one of the best day hikes of my life in the Rose Valley.

  • jodyR says:

    Those fresh, wild grapes and pomegranates? Did they taste dramatically different from what you buy in the stores in North America. Stunning pictures. It makes me want to go. Living in the caves is just fascinating to me. You really captured it well.

  • Love your photos. We were just in Cappadocia this September and it was glorious. Didn’t get to do as much hiking around due to some big rain storms. That was interesting in its own way. Magical place. Thanks for sharing! I’ll be posting some paintings inspired by our Turkish adventures soon.

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