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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Cappadocia Fairy Chimneys

Gorgeous Goreme

Cappadocia Fairy Chimneys

Fairy Chimneys | Cappadocia, Turkey | in-depth travel advice from Terra Encounters
Cappadocia has become synonymous with eroded valleys dotted with rock pillars known as fairy chimneys.  Why are they here?  Is this landscape really unique?  Where is the best place to see fairy chimneys?  In this post we discuss several places but three are especially worthwhile.


First, we drove to Çavuşin and saw some old buildings and caves cut into the cliff.  Many old buildings are now being turned into hotels.  The locals want to cash into the tourism industry.

Then we drove on a side road to Paşabagh.  Here there was a caravan of tour buses to visit the rocks that locals call fairy chimneys.  Actually, these formations are more massive than chimneys.

Many paved walking trails meander around slender tree trunks and massive rock trunks, some of which were used as cave homes by hermit monks.  They would be appalled by all the tourists today. 

In spite of all the people, this is still one of the two places to see.  The best overall view can be found by climbing the trail that starts south of the formations.  You'll get an unimpeded view from above.  You won't be alone.

A bit further is Zelve Open Air Museum, with more rock formations.


By the way, the correct word for these formations is hoodoo as per Wikipedia: A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney, and earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland.  

Bryce Canyon Magical Hoodoos
Bryce Canyon Winter Magic
Cappadocia, contrary to some web sites, is not unique in the world.  The process is the same whether the hoodoos are in Bryce Canyon (Utah, U.S.), Dinosaur Provincial Park (Alberta, Canada), or Goreme (Cappadocia).  Each of these places is special it is own way.  Bryce is beautiful for its hoodoo forest, especially when capped with snow in the winter. 

Dinosaur Provincial Park Fred the Camel
Fred the Camel and his Pyramid

Dinosaur Provincial Park is the world's richest source of Jurassic-era dinosaur fossils.  Most of the fossil "skeletons" in top museums around the world originate where Fred the Camel lives.

Cappadocia has larger, more spectacular hoodoos.  This eerie landscape may look like a scene on the moon but it cannot be since the moon has neither sedimentation nor erosion.  Hoodoos have layers of soft rock protected by a harder cap rock.  The cap rock protects the softer layers from erosion.  The soft layers are laid down by sedimentation.  

The difference in Cappadocia was that deposits of ash, lava and basalt were laid down by three volcanoes. Two of these volcanoes are now just a volcanic plugs (vertical lava column that hardened and the rest of the volcano eroded away) we now call Uchisar (last post) and Ortahısar (see below).  The volcanic activity occurred as far back as 65 million years ago when the Taurus Mountains were formed 

Camel Rock, Devrent Valley

The hoodoos appeared after this period due to erosion in a hot, dry climate.  If there was more rain then the erosion would have been completed in a very short time and there would be no hoodoos at all. 

Devrent Valley, which is also in this area, we did not find as interesting.  There is not much left of these hoodoos other than the Camel Rock. 

Love Valley Hike

Phallic Fairy Chimneys
Love Valley starts at a turn off from the main highway just before Çavuşin, I did a one hour walk through apricot and apple trees to see stunning phallic fairy chimneys of all shapes and sizes.  My sister nicknamed this the Penis Forest. 
Ionic Columns?

The plus side was there were few tourists only one family and another couple.  There were no tour buses here when we went.  As a result I definitely enjoyed this area the most.  It's just a short hike to the beginning of the "Stone Forest". 


Ogling Ortahisar
From here we went to Ürgüp for lunch.  On the main street in the centre of town, we had a döner for merely TRY 3 ($1.50) each!!  The ice cream across the street was TRY 6 ($3) for four tiny scoops but it was quite good. 


From Ürgüp we went to nearby Ortahısar.  We heard a restaurant there not only was very good but had a great view. 
Ortahisar Close-up

That really was a stellar view point of another volcanic plug that was used as a fortress (hisar).  Wow!! 

Meanwhile all the tour buses go to the entrance to climb the fortress where once again there are wall to wall tourist stalls and shops. 
However, there were some good people pictures in a very atmospheric old city.

Then we came back to Göreme and got some cold water at the grocery — only 1 TL for 1.5 L.  Some hotels and restaurants charge 2 or 3 TL for 0.5 or 0.75 L.    We did not buy a case of bottled water.  You can easily get 1.5 L at a gas station for c. 1 TL; i.e. they do not overcharge.  But mainly, we use a steri-pen to sterilize water.  



Pigeon Valley Hike

From here we went on part of the Pigeon Valley Hike for circa 45 mins. It had lots of birds — this is where the locals collected bird dung.  The road-like trail had two walk-through "caves" but few interesting hoodoos so I turned back.

Zemi Valley Hike

Zemi Valley Hike is often overlooked but another very worthwhile trail.  You can drive for a little bit (about 2 km along this road to a field with a sign saying no further car travel).  From here, the road-like trail (there are three trails but sign-posted) was pleasant with more phallic and pyramid hoodoos.

Our favourite place was actually a short side-trail to the left close to the beginning of the hike after the field.  It goes uphill to the large conical, rock-cut El Nazar Kilise (church).  Do not pay to go inside.  Hike here for the good views from the top of this side-trail: you can see the Goreme Open-Air Museum in the distance. 

Also see these posts

Mustafapasa Magic to visit a Greek town to see typical Turkish life

Göreme Top 9 Sights for recommended things to do near Göreme
Gorgeous Göreme for Sunset Viewpoint

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