This post should answer all of your questions about Pigeon Valley. To learn about central Cappadocia’s other captivating valleys, check out our Cappadocia Valley Series Home Page.
When you come to Cappadocia you must take at least one of your days, pick a valley, and spend the day exploring.
As you enter the valley take in the view of Cappadocia’s manifold surface.
As I have said in the past, one of the great things about Cappadocia is the absence of fences (proof that very few lawyers live here). The valleys have trails, but when you were in school, did you always color between the lines? When you see an area that catches your fancy, go for it.
Pigeon Valley offers many opportunities for this, especially if you take the long trail starting on the back side of Uçhısar. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me give some instructions. On second thought, I will give the instructions at the end. Let us get right to the heart.
PIGEON VALLEY DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
At some point on your hike you will pass Hasan’s Tea Garden. I cannot urge you strongly enough to stop and have some refreshments. As beautiful as the valley is, your time with Hasan will be the most memorable part of the adventure.
Hasan is waiting to refresh and entertain.
From either direction this haven appears seemingly out of nowhere and the temptation is to ignore it – just another tourist trap, but you will not regret this respite, I promise.
Have a seat in the shade, enjoy a glass of fresh squeezed fruit juice, munch on some peanuts (good protein for the remainder of your hike), and enjoy Hasan’s show (you will have to go to experience the details- no spoilers here).
Comfortable pillowed benches in the shade are calling your name!
This 50-something man, missing a few teeth, epitomizes the “can’t judge a book by its cover” phrase. At one time he owned a hotel, sold it, moved to Antalya to run another hotel, lost almost everything, and returned to Cappadocia opening the tea garden in 2008.
Having been in the tourism business for 40 years, he speaks Turkish, French, Italian, and English.
If you can coax him to tell some of his stories, you will be richer for the experience. He guided people through the Uçhısar kale for 9 years before the government took it over. He started helping tourists at age 12 and now enjoys the peace and quiet of Pigeon Valley, far away from the gossipy hustle & bustle of village life.
No worries sharing the free peanuts with the birds.
While we visited with him two groups arrived. The first group of 10 or so people was French. They straggled in from Göreme in ones and twos and passed by Hasan. However, a bit later their guide arrived with the last of the group and had them all return and sit down on the shaded benches. Once they were seated Hasan sprang into action serving drinks and entertaining the crowd in French. I had as much fun watching as they did experiencing the show.
The next group was a bunch of 20-somethings from all over the world who had met at a hostel in Göreme and decided to hike Pigeon Valley together starting from the back side of Uçhısar. They arrived at Hasan’s tired and ready for a break. Since they all spoke English, Hasan switched to English working the crowd, keeping them smiling and on their toes.
Hasan putting on a show – the turbans are for sale.
Hasan is truly one of Cappadocia’s treasures and worth a few minutes and a few TL while you are in Cappadocia.
NOW FOR THE DETAILS
With all of this said, the question remains as to how to “do” Pigeon Valley?
The problem is that you begin and end at different points: Uçhısar to Göreme. You can go either direction but know that starting from Uçhısar is a bit easier as it is downhill the whole way.
When we went as a family I dropped off our car in Göreme, had a friend drive us to the head of the valley, and we walked back to our car. However, most of you will not have that option so your best bet probably is to park in one place and take the bus back to your car/scooter or take the bus both ways if you have no personal transportation (or walk the whole loop if you are up for it). If you ask nicely, someone working at your hotel may agree to drive you one way. This is all much easier if you are staying in Uçhısar or Göreme.
Uçhısar’s kale (fortress) towers over the valley.
Be sure to bring a bottle of water and a camera. You should wear sturdy hiking/walking shoes as the trail is a combination of rocks, dirt, grass, and sand with some water and steps thrown in for good measure.
With climbable fairy chimneys and abundant wildlife Pigeon Valley is a paradise for kids.
3. STARTING POINTS
If you start in Uçhısar, be aware that there is a long trail and a short trail. The long trail starts at the Kaya Hotel on the back side of Uçhısar farthest from Göreme and is around 6km from start to finish with Hasan waiting for you at about the halfway point.
The so-called short trail (about 3km) starts at the bottom of the hill on the road to the CCR not far from the Göreme panoramic views. If you start here, Hasan’s tea garden is just a few hundred meters away. And apart from what you spend at Hasan’s, Pigeon Valley is free (no entrance fees).
4. THE PIGEONS (TURKISH: GÜVERCINLIK)
The valley is named for the many pigeon houses or dovecotes carved into the rocks and cliffs. Years ago the pigeons were used as message carriers, and their droppings were used as fertilizer and maybe even for use in making explosives. Today, very few, if any, pigeons are kept in the valley, although many locals keep them as pets in their own columbariums.
When you come to Cappadocia be sure to take half a day and hike Pigeon Valley and be sure to schedule in half an hour for refreshments with Hasan. If you want to make it a full day, plan on walking around Uçhısar and Göreme on each end of your hike. I promise you will sleep well that night!
Please leave a comment about Hasan if you met him when you hiked the valley.
Now, enjoy a few pictures of the valley…
Captivating beauty and no railings- Please do not tell your lawyer friends about Cappadocia!
Frodo Baggins is just around the corner looking for Rivendell.
Here you can see some of the pigeon houses for which the valley is named. The little squarish holes, not the caves.
The minarets remind us that we are in Turkey and not Middle Earth.
A vast network of caves allowed people and pigeons to live here at different times, but there are no churches to speak of in Pigeon Valley, unlike the other valleys of the region.
Is this really planet earth?
The changes in scenery on this hike are fascinating. Everyone in our family (ages 4-43) had a great time, but the little ones were exhausted by the end.
Sitting at Hasan’s gives you a great view of Erciyes Volcano, one of the sources of Cappadocia’s rock formations.