That day we kept exploring a fairy-tale Cappadocia: its most famous and still-to-be-discovered places and even found a natural Jacuzzi!
The day started in the Ihlara Valley – a willow forested gorge with plenty of old cave churches. The night before, we entered the valley following a dirt road several km northwards of the village of Belisirma. The road was not listed as an official entrance so we even didn´t have to pay entrance fees. Walking further north, we found a natural hot tub on the right side of the willow valley. To be precise, it was a puddle with approx. 36°C warm bubbly water and a bigger basin which was a bit colder. Ca 800 m. further north we found a cave church.
We followed the path further and within an hour reached Selime monastery which we had seen the day before. The monastery occupied a vast territory and turned out to be quite empty; one may climb up the cone-shaped chimneys, climb inside and explore the caves. Some of them could be abandoned churches, some of them may have been cells for monks.
After we got back to Berlin I met a guy from Cappadocia, he said that playing hide and seek was incredibly popular in Selime when he was young. Hiding in the dwellings was a bit terrifying though, he said.
Some useful information: there is no entrance fee to the monastery if you approach it from the valley. There is, however, an entrance fee to the valley as it is a historic walk through the cave churches and the fairy chimneys but not when you enter it taking the non-existing road in the middle of the valley like we did. Another useful information: this place is way more relaxed compared with the other fairy chimney sites.
We wondered whether Selime wouldn’t become another tourist magnet within the next 5 years.
The next village we went to after we left the valley, Göreme is definitely very popular with tourists – or rather invaded by them. On the way there we stopped in Uchisar, from there one has a fantastic view over the valley and there are fewer people than in Göreme.
However, this part of Cappadocia is crowded for a good reason. The chimneys are everywhere, some of them are turned into upper-class boutique hotels. In order to get away from the crowd, we chilled on the rooftop of one such boutique hotel, overlooking the valley, for the rest of the day. The best view came along with the worst coffee – they served Nescafe!
Finding a place to sleep was a tedious business. There are no nice river valleys nearby anymore – we checked some of them and checked the backroads, but the area around Göreme was either taken by agriculture or by people ‘s homes. Already in the moonlight, we tried to drive some of the quadbike roads in the valleys with the fairy chimneys on the outskirts of Göreme and turned off the engine at what appeared to be the end of one such road.