It’s like a hot air balloon festival every day in Cappadocia, that’s what makes it so special. Saying that, the trips don’t depart every day due to the weather and out of our five mornings they only departed on two of them. We wanted to view the balloons from a different area but in the end we decided Love Valley was still the best as we could watch them dip into the valley. Now that we knew where to go we headed off much later than last time so we didn’t have to wait in the cold. A lovely dog accompanied us the whole way and as we arrived we got to witness the balloons getting ready for departure. They were glowing like lanterns in the dawn light and looked so mesmerising with the flames lighting them up, revealing the colourful patterns.
Once again we were torn as to which side of the ridge to position ourselves, the balloons were taking off all around the area, some in Goreme while others at the back of White Valley, ready to hover through the valley. As the sun rose the clouds turned fiery red and I watched as a lone balloon rose up with them as the most beautiful backdrop, it’s flame matching the colour of the clouds.
Then we dashed across to the other side, the balloons were deploying into the valley by the dozens! We were surprised how close they got to one another, they were knocking into one another like dodgems, twisting around in circles and navigating their way over precarious rock pinnacles. As they reached the end of Love Valley they’d all pump the flames and rise high into the sky. We actually opted to not go on a balloon ride due to the price, it’s about €150 per person which is out of our budget and to be honest it was amazing seeing them from the land.
With a full day ahead of us it was time for another hike. This time we headed for the Red Valley, taking in part of the Sword Valley on the way. As we began the trail Craig spotted three gorgeous puppies nestled into a rubbish riddled bush. They were so adorable. I don’t know where their mum was, maybe she followed a tourist but was coming back as the pups didn’t seem neglected, they were nice and healthy. We spent a long time cuddling them and then set off along a ridge. We looked down and realised there was a sort of slot canyon below us which we wanted to explore so we made our way to the start of it.
It was much narrower and more impressive than we’d expected. We had to climb over boulders and up steep ladders. Then we bumped into a Russian family, with them was a big black dog who’d clearly tagged along for the company. We told them there were some steep ladders that he wouldn’t be able to get down so we agreed to take him with us to the opposite end of the canyon where he’d come from. They didn’t tell us there was a terribly tricky section coming up. It was easy for the dog to jump down but getting back up was another story. There was a meter or so ledge to get up but it was half a foot wide at the top so he couldn’t do a run and jump into the narrow gap. We tried to encourage him to follow us but as we walked away hoping he’d just follow we heard him whimpering. We couldn’t leave him. One Russian girl was having trouble getting down, she was really scared and had a very angry family member shouting rude things to her. Anyway, I realised we’d need their help and I came up with a quick plan. I sent Craig back down and told him to crouch down like a table, creating a mid-way ledge for the dog to get up. I waited at the top while we got the ladies to help him onto Craig’s back. We’d only just met this dog so I didn’t know it’s temperament and if he would snap at us, but he was a kind soul. The problem was he was massive and his legs were so wide they were slipping off the side of Craig’s body. It didn’t look like it was going to work. The ladies heaved him onto Craig’s back while I encouraged him my way but he was really struggling so I had to intervene. I didn’t have anything to grab onto except his chubby neck scruff so I had to try and pull him with that and the poor boy was scared, he was trying to stay close to the wall for support but I could hear his head bone banging on the rock and it made me wince. But, we did it. He made it up and had no injuries wahooo. We named him Frank the tank.
He followed us towards Red Valley but the route there wasn’t particularly interesting. There wasn’t much to see at the base of the valley and the weather turned into a miserable drizzle. We stopped at a tea shop closed for the season where we sat on a vintage sofa inside a cave and drank our flask of tea. Frank got bored and vanished while we continued up to a view of the Red Valley. We could see the potential, the walls were a fabulous terracotta colour but the rain was worsening so we called it a day. An hour later Frank came running after us to follow us back to the village and tell all his friends about his canyon adventure.
On our last day we finally completed our loop hike through the Rose and Red Valley. The colours changed everywhere you looked, it was such a stunning area to explore. We got views down to canyons with pointy pinnacles and rocks ranging from reds to sulphurous yellows, and we found some more puppies who were suckling on their mum. The mum was hilarious, pawing us for attention.
Everyone talks about Cappadocia for the hot airballoons but no one mentioned the dogs of the area. It was an absolute treat to spend everyday hiking in such a surreal surrounding with the friendliest of stray dogs keeping us company. And that marks the end of our three weeks in Turkey – we would have liked to of stayed longer but Craig threw away his battered hiking boots and with winter fast approaching it wasn’t the right place to be in just a pair of sandals. We will have to return to Turkey in a campervan as there’s so many beautiful sights in this country, they even have mountains and lush pastures like Switzerland – now it’s time for us to head to Egypt!