MESKENDIR VALLEY TRAIL IN CAPPADOCIA, TURKEY
The Meskendir is a short trail in Goreme that leads you past numerous cave dwellings and historic sites as well as through multiple tunnels. It is quite a shady trail, which makes it a top suggestion for during the middle of the day.
I combined the Meskendir Trail, Rose Valley Trail, and Red Valley Trail all into one super hike as the paths all connect. However, if you prefer a short walk, you can just venture out on the Meskendir Trail and do an out and back hike.
HOW TO GET TO THE MESKENDIR TRAIL
The most popular region for tourists to stay while exploring Cappadocia is a town called Goreme. Uchisar is the other nearby town, which is also an option for accommodation but Goreme is the popular choice by far. Goreme is packed with hotels, restaurants, and cafes, while Uchisar is a little quieter but still has lots to see. There are a few different ways to reach the start of the Meskendir Trail.
We began walking from Goreme Town in the heat and it was set to be a 3km walk to the start of the trail. However, as so often happened in Goreme and Cappadocia, we hitch-hiked our way to the start of the trail.
A good landmark to find the trail is the Kaya Camping Ground, which is just past the Goreme Open-Air Museum. When you drive towards Kaya Camping from Goreme, you will find Kaya Camping on the left. The first road after Kaya Camping is the road you want and there is a sign on the wall, which I have pictured below to make sure you find the trailhead. Throughout the trail there are signs saying Rose Valley and Red Valley, which means you are going the right way as they are at the end of the trail essentially.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE MESKENDIR TRAIL
After hitch-hiking our way to the start we found the trail just across the road from the Aynali Church and just after the Kaya Camping ground. Graffiti on the wall said ‘Rose’ and ‘Red’ and we assumed that was our starting marker. It was quite an amateur starting sign and was a bit creepy in red paint almost looks like blood!
Immediately, we knew it would be a quiet trail as you are really in the backcountry and far away from any other attractions other than the Goreme Open Air Museum, but that is on the other side of the main road. The trail quickly dipped down into a mini chasm that wound its way down into the valley. The gravel was quite slippery and we slowly edged our way down the slope. At this stage, we were already impressed with the little canyon and rock formations.
The trail then flattened out and we began entering a series of sandstone tunnel that was super cool. Some of them were similar to the tunnels on the Love Valley Trail but these tunnels were longer and the roofs were much higher. Just like the Love Valley Trail, I think the hot air balloons would fly over this valley during their sunrise flights. If you are planning on taking a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia you should read my guide first for a few important tips.
We emerged from one of the tunnels to find a small, wooden cafe. There was a price list, lots of food and drinks but no-one there manning the shop. It was only 10 minutes into the hike so we weren’t too upset about it but it’s always nice to stop for a tea or a juice and support the local vendors where possible.
The trail continued on and around every corner would be a little opening that would expose some amazing cave dwellings and historic sites. Huge walls of windows and pigeon holes towered over us as we imagined what the tunnel and stair system looked like on the inside. It’s amazing to try and imagine all of Cappadocia living in this style of dwelling hundreds of years ago. There were even rock paintings high up on the wall. This hike had it all but that isn’t uncommon in Cappadocia.
The trail continued on as the canyon finished and we entered more of an open area. That is pretty much the end of the Meskendir Trail but we continued on until we reached the turn-off on the right to head up into Rose Valley. First, though, we stopped and had a freshly squeezed orange juice and bought some mixed nuts from a sweet old lady who was the vendor of a small stand.
Once you reach this sign or the small vendor that is the end of the Meskendir Trail. You have a few options now:
- Turn back and head back along the Meskendir Trail to where you started at Kaya Camping Ground.
- Walk up to the Rose Valley Viewpoint to your left and head back to Goreme.
- Take the right turn at the sign below and explore the Rose Valley Loop.
- Take the right turn at the sign below and explore the Rose Valley and the Red Valley.
We took the last option and hiked all the way up to the Red Valley viewpoint for sunset and then managed to hitch-hike back to Goreme after the sunset, which was a big win. Below is the sign to turn off into Rose Valley but if you see the vendor at the wooden shack, you can turn either before or after that shack on two different paths. They are both the entry/exit points to the Rose Valley Loop but it doesn’t matter which one you enter or exit on as it is a connected loop.
WHERE TO STAY IN GOREME, CAPPADOCIA
Where I stayed: Design Cave Suites Cappadocia – I was lucky enough to stay at the Design Cave Suites in Goreme. The location was great and I walked to all attractions. The rooftop garden was awesome for sunrise balloon watching. Buffet breakfast spread was amazing as was the cave style room designs.
Best Cave Hotel with Pool: Local Cave House Hotel– This cave hotel rose to fame because of its incredible pool. Make sure you click the link and check out how epic the pool backdrop is, with those classic Cappadocia rock formations in the background and traditional cave rooms it is a top pick.
Cave Hotel with Best Roof View (and dogs): Sultan Cave Suites – This cave hotel became famous because of its epic rooftop area for sunrise viewing. Guests can lay out on traditional pillows and carpets while watching the hot-air balloons flying above. The hotel dog might also join you for a photoshoot on the roof!
Budget Option in Goreme: Emre’s Stone House – For just $6 USD per night you can enjoy Cappadocia and this budget accommodation even has an epic rooftop to enjoy. It’s the best value in Goreme, Cappadocia.
Save money in Cappadocia by staying at an Airbnb! Get a FREE $40 Airbnb Coupon by using my code when you book! I use Airbnb on about half of my travels and find you always get more value than a hotel.
TRANSPORT IN CAPPADOCIA
Hire a Private Driver: Hiring a driver for a few hours to take you to several sites will cost about 100 Turkish Lyra depending on the car and your negotiation, which is about $20 USD. This is a good idea if you want to see 1-2 locations in an afternoon.
One of the best ways to get around is to hire a driver that will allow you to create a customized itinerary. That way you can visit all the spots you are interested in. To hire a private car with a driver/guide you can book online here or you might be a bigger group and in that case, it can be cheaper to hire a van in Cappadocia, which also comes with a driver.
Rent a Mountain Bike: We thought about renting a mountain bike but they were 150 Turkish Lyra for the entire day so it would have been 300 Turkish Lyra for both of us just to transit around. That’s almost $60 USD. It would have been fun but once we fund out everyone wanted to help us by giving us lifts there wasn’t much need. We either walked or hitchhiked.
Rent A Scooter/Moped: A scooter costs about 150-200 Turkish Lyra ($30-40 USD) per day and could be handy if you want to explore some attractions a bit further away or venture over to Uchisar.
Rent an ATV: Given the rough terrain in Cappadocia, an ATV is a fun option to help you explore the natural wonders and rock formations of the region. Prices are about $40 USD for two hours. If you are keen to head out on an ATV there is an awesome Quad-Bike Safari Tour that takes you through Sword, Love and Rose Valley during golden hour!
HAVE YOU CHECKED OUT THE REST OF MY CAPPADOCIA BLOG POSTS?
Click on one of the articles below to check out all of the places you should visit while in Cappadocia!
The big guide! This post has all of my favorite activities, which I personally did while in Cappadocia for ten days: 24 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN CAPPADOCIA
The hiking guide! Find out about all of the best hikes in Cappadocia with details, directions and lots of photos: 8 AWESOME HIKES IN CAPPADOCIA
Thinking about flying in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia? Read this first: CAPPADOCIA HOT AIR BALLOONS: THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU FLY
Have you heard about the castles in Cappadocia? Check these out:
Not sure where is the best region to stay? Wondering which hotel provides the best value? Check out this guide that will help you decide: WHERE TO STAY IN CAPPADOCIA: THE BEST HOTELS & HOSTELS
OR… I write a post about the 12 BEST CAVE HOTELS IN CAPPADOCIA that you might find interesting.
I’ve written a blog post for almost all of the places I’ve visited while in Cappadocia. You can find every single one of these articles right here: CAPPADOCIA ARCHIVES