Arriving early in the morning we had plenty of time to do a hike – or at least a leisure walk around town. Our lodging (Star Cave Hotel and Pansiyon) is about 5 minutes walk or so from the Otogar (bus terminal) of the town but it ain’t difficult to find. This is a small town, everything is within (walking) reach.
We took the overnight bus from Istanbul to Goreme, although it was a 13-hour journey, I was still left with a good level of energy as we were able to sleep during the trip.
There are several fascinating valleys lying just around the town of Goreme that we could visit hiking on our own. Our host at Star Cave Hotel and Pansiyon handed us a map in case we decide to do it, and certainly we did, it is after all what I came here for. The first one was sort of a rehearsal before embarking on a longer DIY hike which I’ve been keen on doing during my past visits in this town but failed to accomplish due to anxiety of hiking alone, the fear of getting lost around the valleys - or worse – a disaster befalling during a hike and no one to rescue me, after all most of my previous travels here were during or around the winter season and not much hikers were around.
After dropping off our bags, me and my travel companion, a good friend of mine – Ageel – we walked along Muze Caddesi – the main highway onto the Open-air Museum road. I’ve seen the museum few years back, so we skipped it and instead, turned around the bend way past the bitsy glitzy Tourist Hotel and Resort and traverse the winding footpath on the side passing by some conical rock formations and found an apple tree from where we enjoyed plucking some of its small green fruits. After hiking couple of kilometers south-east of the town, we have reached the Zemi Valley (Zemi Vadisi in Turkish). The nice thing about the valleys around here, you’ll chance upon apple orchards or loose grape vines and you could just pluck some fruits to nibble along the way. There are good clusters of tall and short cone-shaped rocks and rolling white rock hills, some ancient dwellings among them. This was where I scared the hell out of my friend – and surpringly – me as well. And the story goes –
We digressed around Zemi Valley, took photos of some striking geologic structures and climb on top of a big elongated hill that looked like the back of a mammoth elephant. I spotted some people on top of the tall mountain range beyond the plain, thinking to myself how they got there - envious of course. We continued walking along a path leading to one of the pointed lofty cone-shaped rock carved with entrance to a chamber, must have been one of those ancient dwellings. I told my friend that I want to check the big hole on one of the rocks. Then he said he wanted to pee on the grass so I continued walking at the back of a big boulder out of his view and before he knew it he was stunned seeing me already climbing the giant boulders going up to the summit of the valley where we saw some cars, quad bikes and people a minute back. (See photo below)
|The people and car on top of the valley.|
It was seriously dangerous and I have not thought about it until I started ascending. Tilting my head down, I saw the panic on Ageel’s face when he emerged from the bend. He is seeing the other side of me – the spontaneously daring side – which he has not had the chance to witness in all the years that we’ve known each other (5 years or so). This is the first time he accompanied me on an adventure trip, all the while he thought I was half a couch potato (not even my closest friends and there are very few knows me). He was left with no choice but to follow, I know for certain that he’s afraid of getting lost along the way if he take the footpath where we’ve started back to town plus he can’t just leave me there crawling like Peter Parker (without the red-blue outfit) that’s for sure.
I was actually shaken with terror when at one point I stepped on some grains of sands that made my shoes skid a bit sending my lower body sliding about one foot down. One false move and I'll be rolling down the rock, probably to my death, no exaggeration believe me. Alright, a very serious injury. Looking down, I can see Ageel couple of feet down below me. My legs were shaking while screaming at him to crawl really low as I was more afraid for him than for my precious life, after all, I convinced him too tough to come along on this trip. We continued on inching slowly and really low while my nerves were on the verge of collapse. This might be the end of me, my childhood life starting to swirl around my head like black and white films NOT! I am not that old.
|Don't forget a bottle of water.|
|One of the cave dwelling at Zemi Valley.|
I stopped midway as I was finding it really difficult moving further up. Cold and salty sweat dripping on my forehead into my eyes, my arms trembling and my voice almost faltering while my mind was contemplating on whether to go further up or back down. Backing down would be a suicide, it was slippery and the only way would be to jump more than 5 meters down with expected injuries, that ain’t possible. While all of these were going through my mind in quick successions in train of thoughts, I was trying hard to hide the foreboding predicament from displaying through my wide-eyed expression from my friend a meter distance below from my feet waiting for me to advance. His face was already showing signs of panic – believe me it was forever etched on my memory - his was as white as a Geisha!
There is no way I could back down, so I clambered up while fumbling for but getting unsatisfactory support from speck of rocks bulging vaguely while my sneakers unsuccessfully finding a grip on the sandy surface. Reaching above my head, my hands caught some strands of dried grass or bushes, can't remember, I gazed up and it’s already a flat surface.
|The white mound of rocks that resembles the back of a huge mammal.|
Hallelujah! We’ve finally reached the top! We almost did not believe that we made it onto the top of the plateau. That was extreme sport we did back there, and I am never a sporty person.
Sometimes I really scare the hell out me. I always make spur-of-the-moment actions without even thinking. If I did, then it would no longer be adventure. Hmmm.
The top of the valley offers a 360-degree panorama of the whole town of Goreme. There is even a wooden view deck facing the streets and the rows of cave hotels carved out of the hillside.
|Views of the town of Goreme from the top of the valley just above the town.|
Luckily, we don’t have to go through the same ordeal going down, there is a short and convenient way to get on top (and down) of the valley just beside the wooden view deck. It’s just there, right at the town center itself – very safe and easy like a walk in the park. Damn! HA HA HA.