May 23 Three Valleys (Day 239)

This morning was overcast and the balloons did not fly. At breakfast we found out that there is a service that gives a report daily with a fly or no-fly order that all balloon operators must adhere to for safety standards. It is through Kapadokya Universitesi! We had a leisurely morning and let the sun burn off the majority of the clouds before we headed out around 10am to visit one of the famous valleys of Cappadocia, Love Valley. Named so because of the phallic looking rock formations known as fairy chimneys in Turkiye, or hoodoos as they are called in the US and seen in Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. We are now both recovering from a cold so we opted to drive along the rim of the valley, looking down on the rock formations rather than hike into the valley,

We also chose not to ride a camel down into the valley, or have our pictures taken just sitting on one by the heart shaped overlook!

It was getting pretty hot already and we didn’t want to over-exert ourselves!

For more pictures of the fairy chimneys and information check out this blog; The Turkey Traveler.

We moved on to another valley, Rose Valley, not too far away. It takes its name from the rose hued rock that rises up to a plateau, with less frequent stand alone fairy chimneys, and it is known for several churches carved into the rock. The rose color is especially pronounced at sunset, however we were there in early afternoon and the rock was bright white in the sunshine!

The entrance to Rose Valley, you can see some caves carved into the rock on the left.

Robert set up his drone to do some overhead shots and I wandered to the caves.

There is a church carved into the rock! A detail shows remnants of the colorful frescoes that decorated the interior.

I wandered further up a path into a box canyon and looked back at the walls lined with caves, tunnels, archways and high seemingly unreachable sealed doorways.

I came back out of the box canyon and followed another path around a corner and along a rock wall and looking up saw another cave carved into the wall.

I could see carvings on the roof of the cave, but there were no stairs, no ladders, no footholds to climb up the gritty rock face.

Finally I just trusted the grip of my hiking shoes and crab-walked up a narrow crevice and made it up to the cave!

I entered a large room, missing the front wall (erosion maybe) with ornate carvings in the rock roof and once brightly colored frescoes adorning the arches and domes!

There were several rooms I wandered through, some with soot covering the walls and ceilings, some with cubbyholes everywhere. This must have been a church with adjacent dining and cooking rooms. And I had it all to myself!

Then I noticed a few drops of rain on the rock outside and decided I should get back to Robert! I backwards crawled down the gritty rock face, thankful I have newer vibram soled hiking shoes and hoofed it back to the valley entrance. The rain was just a passing cloud and dissipated quickly and we had one more valley we wanted to explore before going back to Goreme and finding dinner.

The next valley is further south near the neighboring town of Uchisar, about a 15 minute drive away. Pigeon Valley is named for the many pigeon houses that were carved into the rock in order to encourage pigeons to congregate and nest so that the pigeon poop could more easily be collected to use as fertilizer!

The overlook above Pigeon Valley with a thick forest on the valley floor.

We hiked down the wide cobbled road into the valley where it turned to a sandy trail in the shade of the pines and the scent of jasmine flowers. The large rock on the right is the highest point in the region of Cappadocia, known as Uchisar Castle, although it is a natural rock formation.

The many varied cave houses in the valley, some look like apartment buildings! The lower left picture is of the pigeon houses, the pigeons fly into the little holes at the top into a large room carved into the rock where there are nesting niches. There is a hatch somewhere, a doorway or a hole blocked by a removable rock for access to clean out the pigeon poop several times a year!

As we drove back to Goreme to find some dinner we passed by the back of Uchisar Castle and saw the many caves carved into the rock!

It looks like swiss cheese! It is believed that up to 1,000 people lived in the rock at some point!

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