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Loco for Lokum: on assignment inTurkey The lowdown on winning the 2011 World Nomads/Rough Guides Scholarship...

Fairies and Fauna - the Mythical World of Cappadocia

TURKEY | Friday, 10 June 2011 | Views [2804]

Cappadocia, Turkey
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Carved into the soft volcanic rock like secret hideouts, Cappadocia’s cave hotels have unsurprisingly made a name for themselves amongst tourists visiting the region and ours, the Gamirasu Cave Hotel (http://www.gamirasu.com), is no exception. A labyrinth of haphazard stone stairways and arched-roof rooms sprawling beneath the Ayvali Village, the hotel has an enchanted feel to it, an atmosphere heightened by the orange lanterns that fire up after dusk.
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Our hotel is not the only part of the area that feels lifted from the pages of a fairytale. The entire landscape of Cappadocia – the ‘land of horses’ - seems to take on an other-worldly quality, from the rocky peaks and spires stretched like a sea of raised fists or the appropriately dubbed ‘fairy chimneys’ that lend the horizon an eerie silhouette. 
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Starting with the ‘bike’ portion of our BikeHike adventure, our group set out from Göreme, complete with complimentary BikeHike cycle shirts, camel packs brimming with water and only a slight apprehension for the steep climb ahead. 
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The BikeHike team
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Ready for action
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Perhaps we were a little too optimistic, for we quickly entered an area where the terrain was so steep and uneven that we had to carry our bikes with us, trundling through thick undergrowth and rocky pathways as we dragged, pushed and hoisted our bikes along the route.
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Thankfully the agony of burning thighs was soothed somewhat by the views awaiting us at the top and all but forgotten as we rolled down undulating hillsides and dusty off-road tracks on the descent.
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By the time we made it to lunch, I wasn’t the only one red-faced and sore-legged. Although a few brave souls soldiered on for an extra hour after lunch the majority of us retired to the bus for some chauffeured sightseeing, visiting the famous fairy chimneys in Pasabag (Monks Valley) and exploring the abandoned town of Çavusin, where an entire village of houses were carved into the volcanic rock. In Pasabag we clambered through the caves, ducked through tunnels and attempted to climb inside one of the pinnacles (a feat sadly only managed by Turan, our guide, and Susan).
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That evening’s meal was a sober affair, with a table full of flush faced and exhausted travelers. And with a 3.30am wakeup for our hot air balloon flight, no-one seemed to mind as one by one we each slipped off to our rooms and fell into bed.
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Fairy Chimneys, Pasabag (Monk's Valley)
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The abandoned cave town of Çavusin
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Tags: bike, cappadocia, travel, travel writing scholarship, trekking, turkey

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