- Enjoy a sundowner amid the lunar valleys of Cappadocia
- Hike across valleys and see an ancient whirling dervish ceremony
- Soar high over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon
|Day 1||Arrive in Cappadocia, Sunset Wine Toast||Cappadocia|
|Day 2||Sunrise Balloon Tour, Göreme Museum Hike to Uçhisar||Cappadocia|
|Day 3||Pottery Experience, Valley Hike & Whirling Dervish Ceremony||Cappadocia|
|Day 4||Kaymakli Undeground City, Ihlara Valley Hike||Cappadocia|
|Day 5||Free Morning in Cappadocia, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Cappadocia, Sunset Wine Toast
Welcome to Turkey, one of the oldest civilizations in the world! There's no shortage of historic ruins here, ranging from ancient Greek to Roman to Christian and Islamic cultures. Then there's all the natural beauty, from the stunning coastline along the Aegean and Mediterranean seas to inland valleys and mountain regions. The trip kicks off with one such highlight: Cappadocia. Located on the arid plains of the Central Anatolia region of Turkey, it's an area known for its towering "fairy chimney" geological formations and lunar-looking valleys.
You'll arrive at the airport in Kayseri, the central hub for travel to Cappadocia. A personal driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in the heart of the region. After checking in and getting settled, you can head out on the terrace and enjoy a sampling of local delicacies as well as a glass or two of quality Turkish wine. The best part is you'll enjoy it as the sun sets over the stunning valleys, whose unique rock formations change color in the shifting light.
Day 2: Sunrise Balloon Tour, Göreme Museum Hike to UçhisarMost images of Cappadocia feature its incredible valleys and volcanic rock formations—plus colorful hot air balloons flying overhead. That's because the most famous activity in this area is a sunrise balloon ride over the valley. It's an unforgettable experience not just because of the views but also because the plateaus and rocks here have a painted quality and look great from above. First thing in the morning, you'll hop in the basket and embark on a 3-hour balloon tour over the valley.
Day 3: Pottery Experience, Valley Hike & Whirling Dervish Ceremony
Today, you'll witness another type of local art when you visit a pottery studio. Pottery craft has been a long-standing tradition in the region, probably since the Hittite civilization (2000-1500 BCE). That's because the nearby Kızılırmak River has supplied all the red clay used to produce these earthenware items since antiquity. The visit includes a live demonstration from a master ceramist, plus you'll get to try making some pottery yourself.
Then, in the afternoon, you'll embark on a brisk hike to one such locale: Love Valley. It is so named for the distinct shape of the towering rock structures here. The hike is relatively easy and covers 2.5 miles (4 km).The day ends with an authentic whirling dervish ceremony. A Sufi mystic created this traditional religious ceremony in the 13th century, and it spread throughout the Ottoman Empire. It's a form of meditation designed to lead to closeness with God through dance and music. The dancers wear flowing white robes and spin in rhythmic patterns accompanied by musicians, creating a stillness of mind for the performers and the audience. The 1-hour performance takes place at a traditional caravanserai (roadside inn), which dates to 1249 during the era of the Seljuk Empire (1050–1300 CE).
Day 4: Kaymakli Undeground City, Ihlara Valley Hike
You'll head out on a 3-hour tour of the Kaymakli Underground City in the morning. This is one of a few underground cities built by the early Christians, who fled to this region to escape religious persecution. Kaymakli is one of the widest of Cappadocia's underground cities and comprises an elaborate maze of nearly 100 tunnels and various caves. Four city levels are open to the public, with the fourth level located 65 feet (20 m) underground.
Up next is a scenic hike in the Ihlara Valley. This 4-mile (7 km) walk follows the canyons of the lovely Melendiz River and takes about two hours. The terrain is flat, making it easy for most age groups and skill levels. Keep an eye out, as, along the valley, there are several rock-cut churches. If you'd like, you can extend the hike another four miles to visit the Selime Monastery. This massive religious structure, which dates to around the 9th century BCE, is carved right into the volcanic rock. Inside is a cathedral, kitchens, stables, and living quarters decorated with ancient frescoes.