Cappadocia, Turkey
Icon: Kilimanjaro from Mt Meru
Cappadocian classic: Rose Valley
Photo Essay: Ben Duncan�s Wind River Mountains
Inquisition on Mount Athos
Best camp tucker
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Cappadocia, Turkey

White Hill before evening storm

Cappadocia is justly famous both for its extraordinary, unworldly scenery – deep canyons cut into the soft volcanic tuff and weird rock formations – and for its troglodyte homes and churches, towns even, and early Christian history. It thoroughly deserves its World Heritage Site status.

Cappadocia is beautiful (in a strange way), with its natural cones, pinnacles, ravines, canyons and cliffs varying in colour from warm and earthy ochres to cooler shades of green and grey. The area’s canyons and trademark ‘mushroom’ formations (or fairy chimneys) were created through the erosion of the deep, soft, geologically young, compacted volcanic ash with a harder layer of lava above. The “chimneys” evoke fairytales or nightmares, depending on your state of mind (or substance profile, for the younger visitor).

Chimneys near Goreme

The locals have for centuries made use of the soft rock, and troglodyte dwellings burrow deep below the surface, even creating underground cities (which were used by early Christians as hiding places), such as Kaymakli. The region’s greatest man-made glories, though, are the churches and monasteries, often sporting the remains of rich wall-paintings and facades reminiscent of Petra, which are dug deep into the cliff-faces.

The area was a centre of early Christianity, producing the ‘Cappadocian Fathers’ and John of Cappadocia, Patriarch of Constantinople between 517 and 520AD.

Looking into upper end of Rose Valley

There is no single famous trail here. Instead, there is a plethora of pedestrian pleasures to choose from. You must explore at least two of the extraordinary “valleys” (for which generally read canyons) around Göreme: we suggest a physically weird one (ie a narrow ravine opening slowly into a wider-bottomed, cultivated canyon) such as the Rose Valley (featured below as a Cappadocian classic) and a church and history-packed one such as the marvellous Zelve (or Ihlara) to provide a suitable mix.

While the canyons and churches are what Cappadicoia is famous for, you should not miss a traverse on high ground, to get a panorama and an understanding of the wierd topography, and we recommend that the area of Ak Tepe (The White Hill), the Göreme area’s dominant landmark, as unmissable. The Ilhara Valley further away is also outstanding. See our Cappadocia page for detailed suggestions.

Göreme, the centre of the most spectacular scenery and thickest cluster of cultural treasures in what is now called the Göreme National Park, is a good base for exploration, and is home to the Göreme Open-Museum (see below).

Get there!

Evening light near Goreme

Evening light near Goreme

Zemi Valley

Above Zemi Valley

Church in Zemi Valley

Walkopedia rating: 96 – Top 100
More information on this walk


Icon: Kilimanjaro at dawn from Mt Meru

Africa�s greatest � and at times most overhyped � mountain from its most dramatic, extraordinary � and underrated - one!

Walkopedia rating: 92 – Top 100
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Classic Cappadocian walk: Rose Valley

Looking into upper end

A fantastic ravine turning canyon which tumbles dramatically from the shoulder of the area’s grand Ak Tepe (White Hill) mesa hill toward the village of Cavusin.

You begin at the Kizilcukur viewpoint, with fabulous views over the upper reaches of several valleys as they begin life as nascent ravines in the undulating plain.

You go straight onto rock-hewn steps which get you onto the ravine floor, then you wind between weird formations below ochre and terracotta cliffs, climb through tunnels and down ladders, then meander through canyon-bottom fieldlets and pocket vineyards.

Descent into Rose Valley

Upper end, striped rock

In the early stages, you can climb up through side-gulleys to the ridge to the north, from which you get truly amazing views along the escarpment of Ak Tepe.

Remains abound, and you meet endless reminders that you are in a very ancient and strange place.

In the lower reaches, you may wish to cut across the low ridge that lies between the valley and the Göreme plain [link to First ridge east page], itself a superb experience, especially if you follow the Göreme-facing side of the ridge south-east for a bit, taking in particularly dramatic formations and some fascinating rock-houses. Bigger views than you get from the valley bottoms.

Start mid-afternoon if you possibly can, so you reach the bottom in late afternoon, for fantastic light and colours.

Upper end

Across to White Hill

Descending the river course

River bottom tunnels, Rose Valley

Sunset near Goreme


Walkopedia rating: 98 – Top 100
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Let us know – email us at They may get published!


Photo essay: Ben Duncan�s Wind River Mountains

Here is a tiny selection of Ben Duncan’s superb pictures of the glorious Wind River Mountains.

Walkopedia rating: 87
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All photos ©Ben Duncan

Vignette: Inquisition on Mount Athos

We spend our last night night in St Anna, the mountain�s oldest skete (smaller dependent house) but in structure a mini-monastery. A church and monks� and guests� lodgings are built round a courtyard with the sort of view that could cost hundreds a night on the Amalfi coast: terraces, dotted with monastic housing, dropping to the shimmering, metallic sea some 300m below.

The guestmaster, stern and very black-bearded, checks our passes and logs us in. I am first up. He asks me my religion.


This is not enough and I realize may seem facetious. I am about to enlarge, when he asks if I am a Catholic. I know that the Athonites, in Life of Brian mode, really hate Catholics, so I quickly clarify:

"No, English Protestant."

"Ah, Anglicano."

"Yes". "A heretic."

As an Englishman of a certain age, the Anglicano emits a nervous giggle. Wrong. His eyebrows gather and darken.

"No, you are a heretic. That is very bad."

(Weakly, almost falsetto)

"I have come to learn."

This exchange catches an essence of the Holy Mountain: some things really have changed little here since the Middle Ages, and beliefs are often held with a fierce narrowness.

William Mackesy

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The world’s best camp tucker

Serena Mackesy, best-selling novelist (see for information on her latest novel), journalist, wit, traveller, foodie - but not self-mortifier – on Portable Cooking….

More recipes:


Great because you can basically put anything you like in. I like to chuck in a handful of dried shrimp at the end for extra chew.

  • Macaroni
  • Bacon or any other meat, cut up very small
  • Onion, garlic
  • Dried tomatoes
  • Any robust veg, cut up small: whole cherry toms are very good, as are mangetout, beans, broccoli
  • A big handful of salad leaves if you have them (rocket particularly good)
  • Oil
  • Cheese

Boil the macaroni in one pan. Keep covered to stay warm. In the other pan, fry onions, garlic, bacon and toms for five mins, add the other veg, cook for another 3-4 mins. Take off heat. Drain, the macaroni keeping back a couple of spoonfuls of the cooking water. Throw the lot together, with the cooking water and a glug of oil, throw in the salad leaves and some cheese, stir together so the leaves wilt.


  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Onion, garlic
  • Dried herbs: basil and oregano are good
  • Salt, pepper

Fry the onion and garlic with the herbs. Add the tomatoes, break them up, and boil fiercely, stirring often, for as long as it takes the pasta to cook. Add some dried toms if you have them. A great base to add pretty much anything to; or just lots of grated cheese.


Really this is just a tortilla. If you make extra, let it cool, slice it and wrap it in foil, it sorts out lunch as well.

  • -Anything you would use in a Full English, cut up small so it cooks faster
  • Cherry toms, cut in half
  • A spud, sliced thinly
  • Eggs
  • A little oil

Double-line the large mess tin with foil (for ease of turning out), oil it lightly then fry up everything (Start with the potato and give it five mins before you add anything else) apart from the eggs with plenty of pepper until it’s cooked. Break the eggs into the mug and give them a whisk with the fork, then pour them over the top of everything in the tin, making sure the egg gets into as many nooks and crannies as possible. Cook for a further five minutes until the egg is set. Just as good cold as hot.


You can prepare these ahead of time and simply chuck them on the fire.

  • A tortilla bread each
  • Jam or tinned pie filling to taste
  • Peanut butter, to taste
  • Dried fruits, fresh fruits, to taste
  • Chocolate chips, to taste
  • You get the picture.

Tear off a square of foil a bit bigger than a tortilla, and lay a tortilla on it. Put your choice of filling in, just off-centre. Don’t overfill, because you want to make a nice secure package. Roll the tortilla up, then fold over the ends. Wrap it all up, loosely but well-sealed, in the foil. When you’re eating your supper, put the foil packages either onto a grill rack or into the ashes on the very edge of the fire and let them melt. Eat straight from the foil.

Best Walking Websites

The Footprint Hiking Club of Johannesburg, South Africa, is a heroic organization devoted to the appreciation of the beautiful South African countryside.

Although its mission statement is a bit sleep-inducing (“To offer members the opportunity to enrich their lives by partaking in environmental and socially related activities offered by the club while taking an active and responsible stance in the preservation of the environment”), its activities are fantastic, and its trail reports an example of how this sort of thing should be done.

Congratulations for setting the pace. If Walkopedia lived in South Africa, it would be a member!

See its website at

Favourite Charities

We all have favourite charities – here are ours – do support them if you feel able!

Project Orbis
Flying eye hospitals that train doctors in some of the world’s poorest countries to treat preventable blindness. Brilliant and inspiring.

Christina Noble Children’s Foundation
Orphanages and schools for nearly-orphans in Vietnam and Mongolia. Utterly destitute children, the dust of life, are given more than merely a chance in life. Everything a small charity should be.

Future Hope
Wonderful and moving orphanage and school for children from very poor

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Best Books

The Old Ways, by Robert Macfarlane

This poetic, contemplative, meandering, metaphysical book Walkopedia is getting on for walk porn of a sophisticated variety (no mere 50 shades here…). A wonderful book.

Find this book on Amazon

Sad news on Mount Kailash: will it survive as the World�s Best Walk?

Doug Kiddell reports:

Last year my wife and I walked the Mt Kailash Kora and agree that it was then the number 1 wilderness walk. We have just returned from walking the kora again but sadly it no longer qualifies for even the top 100 in our opinion.

The Chinese have constructed a gravel road at least 2/3 of the way round the kora and there is, among some of the local Tibetans, a fear that the road may be extended completely round the kora. Not only does this road allow vehicle access to the most wild parts of the walk it has also destroyed some of the sacred areas along the walk. Perhaps most importantly - long sections of the pilgrim path has been torn up and replaced by the gravel road.

Some local opinion suggests this is a means by which the kora can be opened up to large numbers of Han Chinese tourists travelling in cars but also allows greater tourist access by the large number of Hindu tourists from India who come to the area often very poorly acclimatised.


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