Cappadocia – Ihlara valley
Ihlara valley is one of the most stunning valleys in Cappadocia. Known for being the only green place in the area, Ihlara valley is a luxuriant oasis in the dry desertic landscape of Cappadocia.
Come have a look at this green jewel.
The funny thing about Ihlara valley is that you cannot see it from the road or more exactly you can only see it when you are 200m from it. Luckily there are signs to guide the tourists otherwise it would be easy to drive by without noticing it. Ihlara valley is like a green volcanic crack in the flat Cappadocian desert.
Ihlara valley is a 13km long valley which can be entirely visited by foot. The trail is easy (flat) and well walked. It is also impossible to get lost as the valley is quite narrow and there is only one trail to follow – along the river. See below the map of Ihlara valley.
The greenery is quite amazing. It is like walking in a fresh humid jungle which is quite refreshing compared to usual dry hot climate of Cappadocia.
Along the trail, there are several well preserved rock-cut churches. Follow the signs to not miss them.
If you are visiting Ihlara valley on your own, I recommend that you take a guide book with you to get an understanding of the paintings’ meanings and the church’s history.
For those who don’t like walking or can’t, there is an entrance in the middle of the valley accessible by car leading to a well equipped area with toilets and restaurants. We stopped there and had lunch on a lovely place above water. Highly recommended.
The second part of the trail leads to a more open landscape with farming fields.
Reaching the end of the valley, you will see the most gorgeous orange-red cliffs.
If you have some time over you can visit the rock-cut village at the end of the trail. In my opinion, it was not as impressive as the Göreme Open Air museum but worth a look anyway if you pass by.
How to visit Ihlara valley
We hesitated quite some time to visit Ihlara valley for economical reasons. It is too far from Göreme to be reached by foot so we would have to rent a car. This could have been a possibility as our hotel could arrange a cheap car rental deal but the main issue was that Ihlara valley was too long to be hiked back and forth in one day. [ In retrospect, it is doable if you are an early bird and walk at a fast pace. However I am not sure how much you will enjoy the visit. ] If you know me by now, you know that I like to do things fully. After discussing with other tourists and locals, we realized that Ihlara valley was a jewel to not miss and that’s why we started looking for trekking agencies which could provide transportation and a guide. Luckily we found one which had a Ihlara Valley trek planned exactly the day we wanted.
We ended up hiking the trail with a lovely couple from Ireland and had an amazing time together.
We were very happy with the service provided by this trekking agency. (We even stopped on the way to visit the underground city of Kaymakli – highly recommended!). The guide was very interesting and friendly. If you are on a budget and can’t afford to book a private tour, I can recommend you to contact them in advance and tell them that you would be interested to do a trek to Ihlara Valley with other people and that they can contact you when they have other persons interested by the same trek. It will be cheaper and it is also a good tip to meet other travelers.
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If you have visited Ihlara valley, I would love to hear your thoughts about this place.
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