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Posted on January 22, 2020
Having ridden in Turkey in 2014, In The Saddle’s Italian representative, Annuska, jumped at the chance to accompany a group and revisit this unique destination.
Read more about Annuska’s escorted ride to the Fairy Chimneys in October 2019.
This was to be my second visit to this stunning destination and it still had plenty of surprises. The ancient district of Cappadocia lies in central Anatolia, in the middle of Turkey. It sits on a rugged plateau north of the Taurus Mountains. Cappadocia is famous for three things – the fairy chimneys; underground towns and the churches carved out of rock. These features are all related to the unique volcanic geography.
Riding through the distinctive landscape of Fairy Chimneys is breath-taking. The terrain is very varied in this region, with some steep ascents and descents so you need to be confident on your horse. The views from the saddle are certainly very memorable. We had plenty of fast canters along the tracks, leaving us with big smiles at the end of each day.
Experienced guide, Erchian, has a fantastic level of knowledge of the area. He is proud of his country, his culture… and his wonderful horses. The horses are all Arabian in breed. They are trained for endurance and some compete in the national team. Strong, fit, and forward going, these energetic horses are a pleasure to ride. They were certainly one of the highlights of the trip for me.
Food is a highpoint on this ride. We were truly spoiled by the chef, who prepared some amazing dishes, cooked simply on the fire.
Traditional meals of beef, chicken or lamb were served with rice, potatoes and vegetables. As a group, we loved the sauces made with yoghurt and spices. Fresh cheese made from sheep’s milk was also really good.
Our group did an 8 night ride which included four nights in a hotel and four nights camping.
Our first two and last two nights were spent in a recently renovated “Cave” hotel in Mustafapaşa. This is an old Greek village in the heart of Cappadocia (formerly known as Sinasos). The bedrooms carved in the rock offer a lovely and warm atmosphere.
The four nights of camping were absolutely my favourite part of the riding holiday. Far from any Wi-Fi areas it was a real detox for me. You feel part of the nature and blessed. We had all we needed – even a mobile shower.
There were many special moments on this trail ride. Here are a few which stand out.
The Local Communities
When riding through the countryside you regularly meet people working in the fields, planting or picking seasonal vegetables. Locals are very welcoming, eager to chat and wave at you.
There is so much more to this trip than just the riding. Some of the ancient churches carved into the rock are amazing and so well preserved inside.
After climbing the mountain and reaching the plateau you have breathtaking and endless views.
One evening we visited an antique caravanserai. Here we had the opportunity to see a Dervish performing a traditional Sufi dance. This is an ancient and mystic ceremony aimed at achieving oneness with God.
Cappadocia is one of the most popular places in the world for hot air balloons. If the weather is right, each morning at sunrise you can see literally hundreds of balloons. This has become so popular that a balloon trip must be booked many months in advance but if you do have the opportunity, it is an unforgettable experience. To view Cappadocia from above when the sun rises, is unquestionably magical.
But just watching them fly from the ground is exciting also.
October was the perfect month for me, warm enough but not too hot – perfect riding weather. The temperature at night drops considerably though. Autumn offers unique colours in Cappadocia. We were lucky enough to find lots of fruits along the way, with trees full of tasty apples and grapes to share with our much loved horses.
Are you interested in the Cappadocia Trails?
Our standard itinerary which is scheduled from April through to October is called Cappadocia Highlights. This is a six night itinerary and you stay each night at the Cave Hotel in Mustafapaşa. A week will confirm to run for one person and the maximum group size is normally 8 people.
If we have a group of four or more, then we can schedule a longer itinerary, like Annuska did, which might include a few nights camping.