Why would I go there?
Exploring ancient lands on a motorcycle transports you to another world – and the magical kingdom of Cappadocia is like nothing you have ever seen before. Valleys brim with spiralling stone towers, inexplicable miniature mountains and Mr Whippy ice-cream shaped rocks. Ride through and you’ll see most of them were hollowed out by families who lived inside the strange twirling stone formations thousands of years ago. Old cities hide away deep underground, hot air balloons fill the sky and you’ll be riding through six-million-year-old valleys… you’ve got to go.
Where is it?
Cappadocia lies in the heart of Turkey, 2000 miles from Calais. So you will need 10 days for a comfortable 400-mile a day ride there and back, and four days to explore. But one of the big draws is the incredible ride to get there. Forget about the typical south of France jaunts. Heading to Cappadocia will take you through the Austrian peaks, past bustling Budapest, through Serbia, Bulgaria and the magnificent Istanbul. You’ll be rolling through an ever-changing backdrop of jaw dropping scenery.
What is there to do?
The hardest part about riding around Cappadocia is all the stopping you’ll have to do to take pictures of the stunning moonscape, ancient castles, forts and magnificent sights. The tracks through valleys are off-road so you’ll need an adventure bike if you want to head into it. But the roads surrounding Cappadocia are well paved if you fancy riding a road bike instead.
Other than the riding, Cappadocia is renowned for being one of the best places in the world to go hot air ballooning. Thousands of colourful balloons take to the sky each morning, and it’s well worth going up in one.
There are hundreds of underground cities in Cappadocia with new ones still being discovered today. People built and lived in these incredible cities as early as the 8th century BC. Derinkuyu is the one to visit: built around 780 it used to provide shelter from the ongoing wars. It’s humongous, eight levels deep and 200 feet below the surface. It could hold up to 20,000 people, had schools, live-stock, libraries, churches and a complex tunnel system with locking doors and ventilation systems.
Know before you go…
You will need a visa to enter Turkey, but it’s straightforward and obtained at the border. It’ll cost about £25 and last 90 days.
What you need to watch out for though, is insurance. Turkey requires you to have green card insurance. If your UK insurance provider won’t cover you for European and Asian Turkey and provide you with a green card then you’ll need to either get it in advance from a Turkish company or the easiest option is to buy on the border. If you’re buying on the border then it’ll be cheaper to buy on the Bulgarian/ Turkish border as opposed to the Greek/Turkish border as they charge around £200 for three months there.
Other than the visa and insurance, take your drivers licence, and International Drivers Permit (available from the Post Office for £4.50) and your V5.
Cappadocia is the region and Goreme is where you’ll want to stay
Best time to go?
From March to June, and September to October. Don’t go in the height of summer as the heat will be intense, and so will the crowds. You can visit in winter, but expect snow -although it does look even more magical when the valleys are covered in white blankets.
1. Cap a what? Cappadocia is pronounced Cappa-doh-key-ah
2. Download Maps.Me to your mobile phone and then download the Cappadocia region map. It’s a free app and a free download. You can then use the map while offline and riding and walking about. It has most, if not all, of the major hiking trails already saved on there so you can’t get lost. And you can use it as a satnav if you get really stuck.
3. Cappadocia is the region, Goreme is where you’ll want to stay and the location of all the fairy chimneys and rocks. Book your accommodation in advance on AirBnB to save money.