Magical Land of Fairy Chimneys

We landed at the Kayseri Airport late in the evening and some of the spectacular scenery that greeted us during the flight descent was fading in the twilight.

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Cappadocian Landscape
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Cappadocian Landscape

When we got into the Natureland Cave Hotel that I had booked online, Terence looked like he was about to bite my head off.

“I’m not a local here and I’ve no freaking idea about the location which websites declared was within walking distance from Goreme town centre, anyway you wanted adventure and there you go,” I exclaimed defensive about the fact that we were a bit far out from where the action was i.e restaurants, shops, transportation etc.

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Natureland Cave Hotel in the background of this ranch

The hotel seemed like it was set in an isolated spot, not that far from town, but isolated enough to not know what was ahead of you in the dark.

Our host Ozair and an Afghan staff whose English was as good as our Pashto served us some snacks and a glass of warm apple tea in the common area. We seemed to be the only guests.

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Common area of Natureland Cave Hotel
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Room at Natureland Cave Hotel

We were informed that there was no water till midnight as there was some issues with the water supply in Goreme town – not a good combo on a cold night to be spent in a cave.

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The entrance to our cave

The pinnacle of the whole evening was the sight of some odd contraption in our room – making it look like it was some kind of setting in a Stephen King book.

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Odd contraptions in our room

“Who the hell are these people! Terence exclaimed as he picked out a rusty pistol from one of the holes cut out in the wall.

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Pistols in the room!

That did get me a bit worried. Here we were, living in a cave, a bit of a distance away from town, no other guest in sight, darkness and a room full of what seemed like torture tools.

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More odd items

“I think it would be a good idea to send our siblings a note on where we are and our location, just-in-case,” I said but soon discovered that the WiFi signal in our room was weak…well non-existent. No connectivity, another first world problem.

So we had our shower at midnight, climbed into the the warm bed covers and prayed that we had not entered some sort of twilight zone.

When we woke up the next morning, thankful for a comfortable bed, a good night’s sleep and our limbs intact – the sight that greeted us blew us away – fairy chimneys and rock formations sculpted by the elements as far as the eye could see.

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Goreme Open Air Museum
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Goreme Open Air Museum
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Odd rock formations at the Goreme Open Air Museum
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A home or chapel cut into the rock at the Goreme Open Air Museum

The fairy chimneys presented themselves in various hues – white, yellow, pink, red and brown formations dotted the landscape.

Our hotel it turns out was located just next to the Goreme Open Air Museum, that featured remarkable rock formations, cave homes, cave churches and chapels with colourful frescoes still visible centuries after these had been abandoned and cattle farms along the way.

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The ranch in front of Natureland Cave Hotel
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Hot Air Balloon operators pack up after a no go for flights by the Civil Aviation Department

Apart from packs of stray dogs, it was relatively safe to explore the area on our own. There are also options of exploring the area on horse-back or quad bikes, or as we chose to do – from a hot air balloon.

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Best way to see the Cappadocian landscape – from a hot air balloon.
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A bit off target landing on a highway with marshals on hand to guide traffic and steer the balloon on to the right spot.
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Stray dogs – a bit of a menace to visitors at the Goreme Open Air Museum

Despite the nerve-racking start to our Cappadocian adventure, it ended on a pleasant note.

Ozair, who runs Natureland Cave Hotel was very helpful in arranging tours and hot air balloon rides for us, in addition to serving up a sumptuous and delicious Turkish breakfast every morning.

The single father is quite an eccentric character, but has been a resident of Goreme since birth and inherited the cave hotel from his family.

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A sumptuous Turkish breakfast

Ozir even too the time to give us a tour of the cave hotel on our last day, and explained that the items in our room were used by the ranchers who used to live there. The hotel was also at one time a winery and the contraptions and items used by past owners are hung up as ornaments in the rooms, including ours. If only he had told this to us the day we arrived, it would have spared us a whole lot of anxiety.

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Rock formations at the Goreme Open Air Museum

Despite the initial apprehension, Natureland Cave Hotel turned out to be a good place – away from the noise and tourist traps in town.

It was nice to wake up to breathtaking scenery every morning, and spend the evenings watching the sun go down behind the rock formations as a blanket of stars took over the blue, purple and orange hues of dusk.

But if we could do it all over again, we would’t trade this unique experience of living in a cave set in breathtaking landscape for any five star luxury.

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Breathtaking scenery along the pathways in Goreme Open Air Museum
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