Sunday, February 17, 2013


Best for horse riding

Executive summary by darmansjah  

A MAN RIDES on a horse back through a rocky valley, his black hair spilling out of a cowboy hat, in a scene that could almost be from the old American West. This sure-footed steed, however, is an Anatolian horse, and the towering rock formations are unmistakably Cappadocian. Otherworldly columns of rock with mushroom-like overhangs loom above the track against a backdrop of labyrinthine valleys and curvy cliff faces. They were formed by volcanic ash being compressed and eroded into fantastic shapes and chiseled into troglodyte dwellings. Early Christians carved cave monasteries, churches and multilevel hideouts, many of which can be seen in the village of Goreme at the Goreme at the Goreme Open-Air Museum.

The rider is Ilhan Ekrem, a local trainer and ‘horse whisperer’, who takes visitors on the horse path that winds up steep inclines, along narrow ledges, through slalom-like fissures and across green canyons. Riding on horseback is a time horoured way to navigate the valleys, so Ilhan is following in the footsteps of cave-dwellers of 2,000 years ago. When Turkey was part of the Persian Empire (547-333 BC), Cappadocia was famous for its beautiful horses, and they have retained an enviable reputation. Ilhan picks his equine charges from a wild pack on the slopes of Mount Erciyes.

‘Anatolian horses are better for negotiating the valleys than their Arabian counterparts,’ says Ilhan, ‘because it’s difficult riding in the mountain, it’s rocky, and local horses are accustomed to it.’

Ilhan gathers the reins tightly and with a couple of firm kicks to his horse’s girth, the pair canter off, both black mane and hair swishing in the breeze.

Further Information

Ilhan’s companya The Dalton Brothers, based at the stables behind Anatolian Balloons in Goreme, offers rides lasting from one hour (US$24) to full-day  treks.

Where To Eat

Ziggy’s brings Istanbullu sophistication and unusual meze to rural Cappadocia, with a mellow atmosphere to savour alongside the cocktails (meze menu from US$21;

Where To Stay

Sultan Cave Suites gives a stylish impression of the troglodyte lifestyle. The stone-cut, honey colored rooms were once stables, wineries and storerooms. Wavy walls and volcanic colour-banding mix with chiseled features such as arches and ceiling roses (from US$111;

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