Most people go to Goreme, Cappadocia in Turkey to hot air balloon over the extraordinary rock formations at sunrise.
I am not most people. I have a morbid fear of heights and the idea of getting more than three metres off the ground in an open basket sends me into a puddle of panic. The people I traveled with were astounded that I would not be joining them at 4am for the “experience of a lifetime” over what are known as the fairy chimneys. “Thank you, I am more than happy to keep my feet firmly on the ground.” I told them.
So instead of getting up at 4 am to hot air balloon over the chimneys, I went on a breakfast tour down into them. This turned out to be a fabulous decision and the highlight of my trip to Turkey.
The chimneys were formed after volcanic ash blanketed the region and solidified to become what is known as “tuff”. Tuff is a soft rock that is easy to mold both by the forces of natures and humans. It makes for a magical fairyland, where over the eons, people have carved out a sophisticated system of cave like cities, capable of hiding many people from marauding invaders including the Romans, Persians and Arabs who have all passed through Turkey.
The morning started with an open-air ride in a wagon pulled by a tractor from my accommodation. There were plenty of opportunities to stop along the way to take photos of the amazing landscape.
We hike down into Kings Valley, down dozens of small steps carved into the tuff.
It’s hot going in the sun hiking down into the valley, but once we are there, it is lovely and cool and shaded.
Walking past surreal rock formations in the valley, we are taken by Ali to his organic farm which has been in his family for 400 years.
This is a traditional Anatolian organic farm.
We are seated at a long wooden table under a shady arbor. It is full of delicious food, all served on pewter plates.
Our breakfast table included locally grown and organic produce; olives, tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum and greens. Fluffy, fresh Turkish bread, organic and homegrown cheeses as well as pickled walnuts and organic honey dripping off the comb complement the vegetables. This, I discover, is just the tasting plate.
After stuffing ourselves with “starters” we are served a large omelette each, cooked over the open fire.
Coffee, both traditional tea and apple tea is served, along with fresh squeezed orange juice.
It really felt as if I went back in time. To a time where life was simpler and less rushed. Where you could enjoy good, organic and wholesome fresh food, the same as what has been eaten here for centuries.
The farm is beautiful and rustic, with old farming implements and tools scattered around.
This beautiful valley has changed very little in the past 400 years.
After eating this most delicious of breakfasts, I dread the hike back up all those steps but fortunately we are taken out of the valley on a much easier path. It is equally magnificent but much easier going for people with full stomachs.
I have absolutely no regrets about not ballooning over Goreme. There is so much to do in this unique place and you get great vistas of the area without being in a balloon. The breakfast and trip down into King’s Valley was a real highlight of my trip to Turkey, an experience that will stay with me for a long time.
You can book this experience through Kelebek’s Special Cave Hotel, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey.
By: Nicole Phillips