Discover the silent beauty of Cappadocia's extraordinary landscape of fairy chimneys and volcanic formations. Whether negotiating the narrow paths, galloping through the steppe or along the lush canyons, you will enjoy exhilarating riding along deserted nature trails. Visit cave villages, troglodytic monasteries and ancient frescoed churches where you will discover the historical and cultural wealth of this region - a UNESCO World Heritage site.
This ride falls within our adventure rides category. In groups of no more than 8 people, you will spend 5-6 hours per day in the saddle, exploring a rural way of life where old traditions are still alive, and experience the legendary Turkish hospitality. Accompanying non-riders are welcome to join riders on the Luxury Trail option. With their own guide and driver, they will explore Cappadocia's volcanic wonderland on foot, and join the riders in the evening at the guesthouses. We also have a Family Ride which offers more relaxed riding and more sight-seeing, culture and non-riding activities such as hiking and nature workshops for all the family.
See Notes for camping, guesthouse and Luxury options.
Why not combine your horse riding holiday in Turkey with a stay in Istanbul? Please see the itinerary for more details.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from SN of London on 22/12/2014
Day 1 - Sunday
Arrival at Kayseri airport. You are met by your chauffeur and transferred in 50 min to your guesthouse in Ortahisar, where you have welcome dinner with your guide at 8pm. For this reason we recommend arriving at the airport before 6:30 PM on Sunday. A relaxing start to your horse riding holiday.
Day 2 - Monday
If you missed the welcome dinner the night before then your guide will be waiting to meet you at 07:30am at breakfast. You are driven to the ranch in the morning to meet your horse, and get acquainted with the riding equipment. The trail begins with one hour of riding through lush vegetation and along the stream of the Uzengi canyon. Villagers cook lunch for you on the woodfire, at the foot of troglodytic citadels of dovecotes carved out the abrupt rock walls. Your first long canter is the ascension of the Avlak mountain (in wet weather, the Avlak mountain is unridable and will be avoided), with a magnificent encompassing view of Cappadocia. The rocky hills could provide the perfect background to a Western movie. You then spend the afternoon riding through expanses of bare hills surrounding Lake Damsa. (In case of hot weather, you can swim in the lake with your horse). You canter along tracks of soft red clay leading you to Mustafapasa. You ride into the village from the hills, to reach your guesthouse. Your horses will spend the night in the nearby garden. In the evening, you may stroll among Mustafapasa’s old stone houses, its Ottoman madrasa and its painted church.
Day 3 - Tuesday
Leaving the guesthouse on horseback, you ride up the valley of St Nicholas towards the far south of Cappadocia. Your sure-footed horses take you off the beaten tracks along a scenic path through rock formations, vineyard and orchards, surrounded by table-mountains. After a canter, you visit the underground village of Golgoli. You climb a scenic plateau where you will have the opportunity to gallop your horse alone. You enter the village of Ayvali through a hidden canyon, and stop for lunch at a restaurant nested in the rock. There is a swimming pool available in front of the restaurant. In the afternoon, you can enjoy a varied scenery of narrow tracks, small canyons, farmed land, and the wide-open spaces of Bahceli, where shepherds lead their flock. You sneak your way along the lush, narrow canyon of Sorkumlu, before galloping on large sandy tracks. Visit of a second and different type of underground village : “Kirkule”. In the evening, you arrive to your guesthouse in Mustafapasa with the horses, for your last night in the village.
Day 4 - Wednesday
This day comprises 3.5 hours riding in the morning. Your afternoon is at leisure in Cappadocia's most picturesque villages: Uchisar and Göreme, where you can visit the Open Air Museum, among other sites.
You canter through vineyards and orchards and over rolling hills of white tuffa to reach Ibrahimpasa. From this picturesque village, you start ascending the ‘twin hills' of Cappadocia to reach a panoramic viewpoint encompassing northern Cappadocia and the towering rock fortress of Uchisar. As you ride towards the village, you can admire the multicoloured rock formations of the famous Pigeon Valley, and Uchisar’s picturesque fairy chimneys. Your reach your panoramic guesthouse on horseback and enjoy a late lunch on the terrace. You may spend the rest of the day exploring Uchisar or hiking to the churches of Göreme’s Open Air Museum through the Pigeon Valley. An excursion to the underground cities can also be organised on request.
Day 5 - Thursday
Optional hot-air balloon flight in the early morning: travel with the wind over Cappadocia's magical landscape at sunrise (additional cost accept on Luxury Trail).
You sneak your way through the rock tunnels, arches and small woods of the spectacular, 4 km-long canyon called the Green Valley. You make a detour through the famous Love Valley and its gigantic phallic rock formations, then onto the Sword Valley and Red Valley. With its cidatels of red, pink and ocre rock, and its beautiful troglodytic churches, this is Cappadocia's most spectacular ensemble of geological formations. A cave café located in an ancient monastery welcomes you for lunch. In the afternoon, you keep exploring the Red and Rose Valleys, then ride out into the fields, surrounded by the rocky hills of north Cappadocia. The winding paths of the Shepherd’s valley take you back to your guesthouse in Uchisar, in time to admire central Cappadocia in the sunset light.
Day 6 - Friday
Optional hot-air balloon flight in the early morning: travel with the wind over Cappadocia's magical landscape at sunrise.
You enter another beautiful canyon called the White Valley, after the colour of its rock. You ride through stone labyrinths and lush vegetation, and pass the impressive fairy chimneys of yet another Love Valley. Crossing the picturesque village of Çavuşin, you follow a scenic path carved in the red rock to reach the famous formations of Paşabaği, and then onto Zelve, an ancient troglodytic settlement which you can visit during your lunch break at a family restaurant. In the afternoon, you canter across the plain of Avanos towards the crests overlooking Devrent valley and its strangely shaped fairy chimneys. You enjoy more long canters through the maze of woody, sandy paths of the valley of Urgup before reaching Ortahisar. Your terraced guesthouse in the village’s ancient quarters is located above a canyon where the horses will spend the night.
Day 7 - Saturday
You ride through the valley of Pancarlik and its multicoloured rock formations, gardens and orchards, then canter on the large tracks leading you to the natural rock circus of Taslik. You stop for picnic in a shady canyon cut deep in the mountain. (OR lunch at a restaurant with a swimming pool) In the afternoon, you sneak your way among the fairy chimneys of Gümüslü valley, then more fun riding awaits you in the narrow corridors and arches of the canyon of Tahtali. You ride uphill to reach the crests again, then follow a spectacular, narrow path along a cliff overlooking the canyons. You return to the ranch in the early afternoon. Depending on the season, and availability of the cattle at the ranch; cattle driving, ranch sorting and cutting will be offered for the rest of the afternoon. After tea on the terrace, you have an option to be driven to the hamam in Ürgüp for a relaxing steam bath and massage (free 4x4 transfer). Short transfer back to your guesthouse in Ortahisar and farewell dinner.
Day 8 - Sunday
After breakfast, bid farewell to Turkey and depart to the airport and your onward journey.
Please follow this link for a map of this itinerary: Cappadocia Trail
Family Ride Sample Itinerary
Discover Cappadocia, its culture and magical landscape; spend time among horses, goats and cows, right in the middle of a theatre of rocks. Ride horses (or donkeys for children), discover the bases of natural horsemanship, walk in incredible valleys, enjoy sightseeing trips, cultural visits, discovery workshops - all sorts of activities for the delight of the whole family.
The holiday is taken on a half-board basis with accommodation at 2 different guesthouses within the week, giving you the opportunity to experience traditional Cappadocia.
There are 5 half days with the horses - learning natural horsemanship, cattle penning and riding out discovering the beautiful landscapes. In addition there are 5 half days of trekking on foot in the foothills of famous Cappadocia, suitable for all abilities. These treks are both guided and self-guided with the aid of a GPS. Children (under 30kg) can also ride the donkeys around the farm. An English/French speaking guide will give daily workshops on 'the discovery of nature' and in the hot summer months guests will have the opportunity to stay around the shade of a swimming pool during the hottest hours of the day (small entrance fee payable). No visit to Cappadocia is complete without one of the infamous balloon flights; seeing the landscape spread out before you is a sight to behold! Children can receive discounted tickets but a minimum age of 5 years is advised for the balloon flights.
While the suggested minimum age of 5 years old is suggested for this itinerary please do enquire if your children are younger. Itineraries can be adapted to your wishes and the host is very flexible; guests are free to take part in any activities according to ages or wishes.
Day 1 : Arrival at Kayseri airport
Transfer by minibus to your guest house in Ortahisar
Evening meal with your guide
Day 2: Discovery of the farm and the animals.
Lunch on the farm. 2 hours ride (initiation and short walk around the farm)
Back to your guesthouse in Ortahisar
Discovery of the farm activities (goat-milking and cheese-making)
Discovery of Natural horsemanship
Lunch in the village of Mustafapasa
Walk back to the farm by discovering the Gomeda valley (Self-guided with a GPS)
Dinner and night in your guesthouse in Ortahisar
2 hours ride in Yatak and Tartale Valley
Lunch in Uzumlu Kilise, walk to Cavusin through the valley of roses. (Self-guided with a GPS)
Transfer to your guesthouse in Uçhisar, dinner and night in Uchisar
Walk in the Green Valley (3 hours)
Lunch in Goreme. Visit of the Goreme open air Museum
Dinner and night in Uchisar
Walk in the White Valley
Lunch in Cavusin
Transfer to the farm for another lesson on natural horsemanship and cattle penning.
Night in Ortahisar
Early visit to the Urgup' market
Ride to Pancarlik Valley
Picnic with the horses in the valley
Back to the farm by the scenic valley of Ortahisar
You have an option to be driven to the hamam in Ürgüp for a relaxing steam bath and massage
Short transfer back to your guesthouse in Ortahisar and farewell dinner.
Dinner and night in your guesthouse in Ortahisar.
Breakfast - Transfer to Kayseri.
Similar to the Guesthouse Trail but more basic. This would suit those who enjoy outdoor living and do not mind a level of basic comfort and service - this option offers good value and a relaxed atmosphere. Camp next to the horses on 3 nights in a different well chosen and beautiful spots. Stay in traditional guesthouses and B&B's for the remaining 4 nights. This option also includes swimming with your horse and a full moon ride although these cannot be guaranteed. For a small supplement, riders who would prefer not to sleep outside are able to opt to be driven a short distance (usually around 15 minutes) to a guesthouse.
A special programme designed for people who are interested in walking and trekking on foot. There is around 2-4 hours hiking per day which is self-guided using a GPS and guide book. Non-riders can join the riders at lunchtimes and at the end of the day. It may also be possible to organise mountain biking, guided hiking and guided sigh-seeing - please enquire as your hosts will be happy to help.
Group size and capacity
When 8 or more riders are taking part in a trail, the group splits in two. Groups use the same routes, with different timings. Groups meet in the evening. The maximum number of riders in one group is 8. On request, we can organise tailor-made trails that can accommodate up to 28 participants.
There is a strict 90kg weight limit for this ride and riders are weighed on arrival. Those exceeding this limit will not be allowed to ride.
Istanbul Add On Package
Two nights accommodation can be arranged at the start or end of your trip in the city where East meets West. Staying right in the heart of the Old Town, within walking distance of the top attractions such as the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar.
The hotel is an intimate, typically Turkish, family ran establishment renovated from a typical Ottoman wooden house and built into the cities ancient walls.
Also included in the package is a half day "Two Continents Tour" and full day "Byzantine and Ottoman Relics Tour" organised and escorted by your hosts.
Transfers can be arranged from Istanbul Ataturk airport to the hotel in Istanbul for around 20 euros one way - payable locally.
We can arrange these on your behalf to fit in with your flight details or you can arrange departure flight transfer with your hosts during your stay.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
5-6 hours riding a day, 15-30 kilometres over varied terrain. The pace is mostly walk, with opportunities for canters each day. Riders must be in good physical condition and able to cope with strenuous mountain walks of up to an hour in total. The trail includes difficult sections where you will be asked to dismount and walk beside your horse. A good tip to help with uphills is to hold the tail of the horse in front of you to help you up - none of them mind! Combining speed with endurance, the mares are docile and easy to tack up and ride. They are about 15hh, friendly cross-Arab breeds particularly fit for Cappadocia's tortuous tracks and paths. All are sensitive and sure footed, some are slower than others. Don't be afraid to ask for a forward going horse - they are all easily stopped from a fast canter. They are ridden using hackamores and light trail saddles fitted with saddle bags. Camping Trail At the camp each client will be asked to particpate in tacking-up / untacking their horse, attaching it for the night, watering their horse from the fountain in the evening and feeding it in the morning. Guesthouse Trail At the guesthouse each client will be asked to particpate in tacking-up / untacking their horse and feeding and watering.
Must be able to walk, trot and canter, tack up own horse and be fit enough for 1 hour mountain walks. Each day begins and ends with a 15 minute walk (on foot), for the riders and the horses to warm up/relax. This trail suits strong intermediate and advanced riders who are looking fora challenging ride.
The ride involves cantering downhill with long and technical canters.
The rider must be fit enough to walk uphill and downhill on steep passes and to lead their horse at a reasonable speed.
The rider must be able to get on the horse by themselves.
The circuit includes some difficult passages where riders will be asked to get off their horse and walk. Riders must be in good physical condition and have suitable footwear. Riders should be able to mount and dismount unaided.
The trails call for a certain amount of 'independency' from the riders, especially for the Guesthouse Trail. There are frequent opportunities for riders to ride alongside each other and not nose to tail and this is encouraged. While at a walk there will also be opportunities for guests to lead the rides.
There is a strict 90kg weight limit for this ride and riders are weighed on arrival. Those exceeding this limit will not be allowed to ride.
Guesthouse Trail - this is the longest trail at around 30km/day and there will be around 6 hours per day in the saddle, apart from the Wednesday when there are 3.5 hours. There are more opportunities to canter on the trail and riders must be experienced and fit. They must also be confident over rough terrain and controlling a forward going horse in group canters.
Camping Trail - this trail is around 25km/day with 5-6 hours per day on horseback for 6 days. The pace is mostly at walk with opportunities to trot and canter everyday. Riders must be in good physical condition for the difficult passages where riders have to dismount and lead their horses. Minimum age of 12 and a confident rider. Riders are expected to help look after their horse and put up/take down their tent and replace the equipment in the logistic trailer in the morning. Logistics - guests will have to move around their luggage often during the week so they should pack several, lighter bags rather than one large, heavy suitcase.
Luxury Trail - This trail is around 20km/day with 5-6 hours a day in the saddle apart from one day where there is 3.5 hours. There are 5 days riding with an optinal 6th day. Although the walking and leading the horses on the comfort trail is easier than on the progressive trails, it can not be avoided, so participants must be reasonably fit. This trail would suit less confident riders but is not suitable for beginner or novice riders.
The weight limit for this ride is 14 st/198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Guesthouse Trail: The traditional habitat of Cappadocia is mainly troglodyte: rooms are carved into the rock. Most of the guesthouses are beautifully restored old houses and offer caves rooms so there are not many windows and there is of course a rough finish to the walls. Accommodation in twin or double rooms wıth their own bathrooms. You will stay in 3 different guesthouses through the week, often spending 2 nights in the same place. These have western toilets, basin and shower. These are not hotels but Anatolian guesthouses: facilities may be basic but friendliness is guaranteed! These guest houses are equipped with solar heating panels for hot water. It is customary to remove your shoes on entering a Turkish house, shoes that slip on and off easily are an advantage. A single room supplement may not always be available if 2 large groups are riding, please request this at the time of booking. The food ıs excellent wıth many fresh vegetables. Turkish dinner and breakfast are taken at the overnight venues. Lunch on Monday is a picnic en-route. Lunch breaks on all remaining days except Saturday are taken in village restaurants. Lunch on Saturday is a "villagers lunch" by an open fire. Vegetarians are well catered for. A typical breakfast would include: tea, coffee (mılk is sometimes hard to find), fresh bread, slıced cucumber and tomatoes, olives, various cheese types, eggs (scrambled with tomato or boiled). A mid morning snack of fruit, a nut mix or chocolate bar. Lunch can be fresh salad, bread, boıled eggs, cheeses, fruıts, vegetables stuffed with rice and often something sweet to finish with as well as the inevitable tea. Dınner has a starter, often soup, followed by a main course such as aubergine and lamb dish with salad and/or bread and always a dessert and tea. You will not lose weight in spite of long hours of activity! Wine and beer are available and payable locally.
Camping Trail: Similar to the Guesthouse Trail but 3 nights are spent under canvas, 2 nights in a guesthouse (at the beginning and end of the trail), 1 night in a Turkish family home and 1 night in a Troglodyte cave. This is for clients who enjoy the outdoor life with a basic level of comfort and service. Clients sleep under double tipi-tents including floor mats and single camp matresses. The camp has a 'shower' tent with a large bucket and a gas stove to heat the water. Guests are required to put up / take down their tent and replace equipment in the logistic trailer each morning. Meals are taken the Turkish way i.e. on the floor, sitting on a carpet around a large round tray, in a communal tent or outside around the camp fire. Lunch is a varied picnic of local specialities that participants carry with them. Dinner normally comprises of traditional Turkish dishes cooked on a wood fire. Vegetarian meals are available on request. Water, tea and coffe are included. Wine is optional and payable locally.
Luxury Trail: Nights 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7 are spent in a superior boutique hotel in the market town of Urgüp, at a 10 mn drive from the ranch. Nights 4 and 5 are spent in a panoramic hotel in Uchisar. The guesthouse is an ancient Greek-Ottoman mansion with vaulted rooms and cave rooms that have been tastefully refurbished and furnished in a classic/Anatolian style. The guesthouse has a secluded garden and a large roof terrace overlooking the center of Urgüp, as well as its own hammam, which guests can use free of charge. The small market town of Urgup features ancient troglodytic quarters, craft and carpet shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, a wine factory as well as a lively market on Saturdays. A network of public minibuses (and taxis) connects the town to the other villages of the region. On day 4 and Day 5, accommodation is in a cosy troglodytic villa overlooking the famous Pigeon Valley in the village of Uchisar. The villas' cave rooms have been renovated to high standards and offer stunning views of the valleys. The horses will stay at the foot of the villa, in one of the terraced gardens. Cappadocia's prettiest village, Uchisar sits on the top of a hill and has embracing views on central Cappadocia. It is famous for its natural rock fortress, its troglodytic quarters, its pretty stone houses and craft shops. It is at a short distance from the village of Gorëme, most renowned for the churches of its Open Air Museum. Dinner and breakfast will be taken at the guesthouses. We will stop at village restaurants for lunch, and, on most days in summer, at restaurants with a swimming pool. Traditional Cappadocian cuisine for dinner and lunch; breakfast is Turkish and continental. Vegetarian options available. Mineral water and tea are included, other drinks, including alcoholic drinks, are available and payable locally.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
March: Expect cold weather, last frost after winter.
April: The sun is back, nature has woken up. Nights remain cold.
May: Sunny weather but may turn stormy at short notice.
June: June is the best month! Vegetation is lush, fields are covered with flowers, the horses are at the top of their form, the kids are still at school. June is highly recommended.
July: July is also highly recommended with further beautiful weather.
August: Very sunny weather, and hot (35°). Siesta is a must after lunch. Bring your hat and sunglasses.
September: Very nice, Indian-summery weather. The trees bear fruits.
October: Beautiful light, great colours. Days are cooler and nights are cold again.
November: Rain is back. May be frosty at night. For the most adventurous riders only.
No vaccinations nor preventive treatments are required. It is preferable to drink bottled water.
You can buy film in most villages. Those on the Guesthouse and Luxury Trail's and Family Ride will be able to re-charge batteries every night at their accommodation, those on the Camping Trail can do so on arrival and on certain nights during the week.
Guesthouse and Luxury Trails and Family Ride:
- a hard water bottle (2 x 1 litre in summer). Mineral water is provided but not the hard bottle!
- walking shoes (not too large) or boots with a good rubber sole. No smooth soled shoes.
- a riding hat. Riding without it is at the sole risk of the rider.
- a waterproof jacket (low risk of storm even in summer) - in spring and autumn: a windproof jacket and some warm clothes as the wind in altitude can be cold
- in summer: sun lotion, hat; sunglasses;
- personal pharmacy - pocket money for stops at cafes en-route;
- A hard water bottle (2 x 1 litre in summer).
- Walking shoes (not too large) or boots with a good rubber sole. No smooth soled shoes.
- A riding hat. Riding without it is at the sole risk of the rider.
- A waterproof (low risk of storm even in summer) - in spring and autumn: a windproof jacket and some warm clothing as the wind in altitude can be cold
- in summer: sun lotion, hat; sunglasses;
- personal pharmacy
- pocket money for stops at cafes en route;
- A sleeping bag , towels, toiletry
- A torch
This is a 8 days/7 nights programme with 6 days riding on set departure dates available between April and October. Other departure dates or tours for groups of up to 8 can be arranged, contact us for details.
2018 Guesthouse Trail: 1, 8, 15, 22, 29* Apr; 6, 13, 20, 27* May; 9, 16, 23*, 30 Sept; 7, 14, 21 Oct.
2018 Camping Trail: 3, 10, 17 Jun; 12, 19* Aug.
2018 Luxury Trail: on demand in Apr, May, Jun, Aug, Sep and Oct
2018 Family Ride: 8, 15, 22, 29* Apr; 12, 19* Aug.
*denotes a full moon ride during the trail*
The most interesting wildlife you might be able to see in this area are buzzards and other kinds of birds, tortoises and foxes.
Non-riders are welcome to join on the trails, using a walking itinerary specifically designed for them.
As the horses camp in places remote from the villages, a minibus will transport you the few minutes to your accommodation each evening.
Your saddle will be fitted with 2 saddle-bags, so you may carry your personal belongings with you.
This south eastern European country is in south western Asia, bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece and Syria. It has a total area of 780,580 sq km. It has borders with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq and Syria. And has a 8,333 km coastline. The temperature is hot and dry in the summer with mild, wet winters. The terrain is mostly mountainous with narrow coastal plains and high central plateaus. The elevation varies from sea level to the highest point at Mount Ararat 5,166m. Norther Turkey can be prone to earthquakes.
Cappadocia occupies the centre of Turkey, the region between the Black Sea in the north and the Taurus Mountains, between the capital Ankara and the city of Malatya to the east. Famous for its spectacular natural rock formations and valleys, Goreme National Park, as it is known today, is strewn with underground cities, stone chapels, monasteries and dwellings that were hewn out of the weirdly eroded volcanic rock from as long ago as 400 BC.
Thousands of years of wind and rain erosion on a landscape of soft volcanic stone topped with hardened larva caps has created a fascinating landscape of rock cones and pinnacles that are known as ‘fairy chimneys’. The greatest concentration of fairy chimneys can be found within the triangle formed by the three main towns of the region, Avanos, Urgup and the main transport hub of Nevsehir.
Outside the triangle to the south are the remarkable underground cities of Derinkuyu and Kaymakli, where layers of tunnels and an intricate system of caves hid generations of settlers and sheltered early Christians fleeing persecution. The Ilhara Canyon is another religious hideaway with more than 100 painted churches and about 4,000 dwellings carved into the rock walls or concealed within the cliffs; its river bed and lush vegetation stand in stark contrast to the dusty, seemingly barren land above.
Cave dwellings, ancient monasteries and painted chapels are well camouflaged, with entranceways that are barely noticeable among a landscape of perforated cliff walls and rock fissures. Houses of volcanic stone blend unobtrusively into the natural surroundings, pigmented in natural shades of ochre and yellow, to pinks, greys and greens, and many people still inhabit the cones and chimney formations. In tourist towns such as Goreme, delightful little hotels and pensions are built partially into the rock or are housed within a rock cone and offer cave-style rooms.