Today we enjoy a leisurely breakfast before any excitement. We then walk out to a horse ranch just outside town. A couple of days ago we’d booked ourselves a ride to explore yet another canyon. The rancher confirms we know how to sit on a horse because this ride has a couple of ups and downs.
“Yup, we’ve ridden in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan. We can do ups and downs,” we assure him.
These horses are beautiful creatures, sleek, tall Arabians. They gallop around their paddock tossing their heels and nodding their heads, dodging this way and that until they fall to the temptation of some fresh-picked willow. They calm down while being brushed and saddled.
Pat and I ride two pretty mares. Our guide rides a big feisty stallion.
The first part of our ride is easy and our guide checks on us to ensure we are having fun. We are. We climb up a ridge and then suddenly the trail drops down the other side. It’s not too steep, it’s a bit exposed, it’s not bad until two large stray dogs come bounding along barking like wild things. Our horses don’t like this, flatten their ears and begin hopping around on the narrow trail. Our guide leaps off his horse and chases the dogs off by throwing rocks. We continue into the valley and enjoy the ride between the rock formations, through a tunnel then begin climbing. Pretty soon we are climbing a much steeper section and onto an exposed narrow trail far above the canyon floor. Pat and I squeak a bit. Our guide says not to worry, the horses are used to this. The problem of course is tat we are not used to this. So we sit very still, keep our eyes focused on the trail ahead, try to ignore the drop below and pretty soon we’re riding up to a funny little restaurant. Here we dismount, order large delicious fresh squeezed juices for a small price then walk up to a beautiful cave church with quite a few intact frescoes. Continuing our ride, we begin to descend and here too is a scary bit where we cross a tiny narrow bridge with crazy drop offs on either side. This is followed by a descent so steep that there is a rope strung along the trail to help hikers up and down. Our horses just lower their haunches and carefully pick their way. Pat and I just lean back and let the horses do their thing.
We’re thrilled with the ride which has taken us through Sword Valley, Red Valley and Pink Valley. It would have been a long tough hike. As it is, we have time to go back to our cave and grab clean clothes. Next stop for us is the hammam. This is one of the nicest we’ve visited. We enjoy the full treatment including a mud face mask, sauna, the usual scrub and massage then a swim. Of course we rehydrate afterwards with a beer.
Thus our visit to Goreme is coming to an end. It has been one of several highlights of this journey.
Tomorrow we will catch a bus onward to Konya.