CAPPADOCIA RED TOUR

Cappadocia Red Tour cavusin


Here is the lowdown:
Price: 100TL (as of spring 2014)
Duration: 9:30am to 4-5pm
Attractions: Goreme Open Air Museum, Cavusin Old Cave Village, & Pasabag
Photo Opps: Uchisar Castle, Devrent Valley, Urgup 3 Beauties Fairy Chimneys
Shopping: Avanos Pottery Shop (Includes demonstration)
Optional: Carpet Shop (includes demonstration) or Winery tour (includes extra charge and tasting)
Price Includes: Transportation, lunch, entrance fees, English speaking guide, pickup and dropoff at hotel
Price does not include: Souvenirs, Snacks, Drinks at lunch
Hidden costs: None
How to sign up: Ask at your hotel or any local travel agency. The price should be the same regardless. You can try to bargain if you like to. This tour generally does not sell out.

If you are looking for a good value tour that captures much of the key sites of Cappadocia, then the Red Tour (aka North Cappadocia Tour) is a good option.

Actually seeing all of Cappadocia in one day is almost impossible so the local companies have divided the region into 2 main tours (other options exist but these 2 are the most popular).

These two are the Green Tour and the Red Tour. We wrote about the Green Tour (aka South Cappadocia Tour) in another post. Today we will cover the Cappadocia Red Tour. I did the tour through my friends at Turkey Freelance Travel, but any local tour company or hotel can arrange it for you.

One Day Tour

I did the tour in the spring, and we began at 9:30 after picking the rest of the group up at their hotels. The tour starting times are dependent on everyone returning from their hot air balloon flights. This means that Cappadocia tours will generally start between 9 and 9:30.

Uchisar Castle Photo Op

Cappadocia Red Tour uchisar castle

This is the “Tip” castle which stood on the edge of the region giving its inhabitants a protective view. When enemies were approaching they were able to warn the rest of the region.

Our first stop was below the Uchisar Castle. On the way our guide, Efe, introduced the tour and gave us key information to know in case we got lost or separated from the group. After a brief introduction of the history surrounding the rock tower, we had 10-15 minutes to explore and take pictures. Those who wanted to do some shopping had no lack of opportunities at the many shops lining the street. After the allotted time we met back at our van and headed to the…

Goreme Open Air Museum

Cappadocia Red Tour goreme open air museum

The Goreme Open Air Museum is the most popular site in the region meaning you can expect lines in the busy season, but most people agree that it is worth it.

Again we followed the same pattern. Our guide told us about the history of the churches as well as the early Christian community in Cappadocia and then gave us an hour to explore the area.

The Open Air Museum has changed since 2012. When I first arrived in Cappadocia visitors could take pictures of the paintings and spend as much time as they wished in the cave churches. However, today no photography is allowed inside the caves and, especially in the busy season, time limits are enforced. On the day we were there the crowds were moderate, and I did not feel rushed. Another change is that guides are not allowed to give their spiels inside the churches so you will see groups standing in front of the entrances listening to their guides before entering.

The Dark Church has been renovated and carries an extra 8TL charge (not included in the tour cost). I recommend paying the extra amount. The paintings are stunning.

At the end of our hour, we gathered at the entrance and walked down to the expansive Buckle Church, which is the highlight if you did not see the Dark Church. Then it was back in the van and off to…

Cavusin Old Cave Village

Cappadocia Red Tour cavusin lady

We got a real treat when this lady gave us a tour of the cave house in which she spent her childhood years.

I waved to all my neighbors as we drove up to the old village and started climbing the hill. Efe gave us the background of the Greek-Turkish people swap of the 1920s. Until that time many Greeks inhabited Cappadocia including Cavusin village. In Cavusin we entered a rare cave mosque which had formerly been a church. We also explored some old caves and climbed to the top of the hill to view Red Valley. At that point we stopped to buy some fresh squeezed orange-pomegranate juice and ended up getting a tour of the seller’s childhood cave home. She told us she would love to do repairs and move back. Seeing the cave rooms and hearing the stories about how they heated and made carpets was a real treat for our group.

Once we arrived back down the hill and got in the van, it was time for…

Lunch

We went to a local Goreme restaurant, Ay Dede, and enjoyed a feast including humus, spiced yogurt, salsa, and potato croquette appetizers, Testi Kebab over rice, and then a semolina dessert. Everything was included in the tour price except drinks which were available for an extra charge.

Lunch was our first opportunity as a group to better get to know each other, and I enjoyed learning about each member of our new community. I was fortunate to be with a small group, and we really enjoyed each other in all of our diversity. This is a bonus of the package tours, an opportunity to spend a day with a diverse group of people. Our pack included a retired Korean couple, and two just-out-of-medical-school American women, one of Egyptian and the other of Palestinian descent, traveling from New York city.

With full stomachs and a feeling a bit more bonded, we found our seats in the van, and got back on the road to an…

Avanos Pottery Shop/Demonstration

Cappadocia Red Tour avanos pottery demo

Which guest wants to embarrass themselves? With the master’s help our group mate did an admirable job.

Efe gave us a bit of introduction to the history of pottery making in Avanos which apparently dates back 3000 years to the Hittites. This craft is maintained today, and we watched a pot being thrown. Then one of the ladies from our group donned the potter’s coveralls and tried her hand on the wheel. With a little help from the master, she was able to make a nice bowl.
Cappadocia Red Tour pottery shop

With that done we were given some time to explore the shop and see their collection of items for sale. The prices were a bit steep for our group and with no bags in hand we got back in the van and went to our next stop.

Pasabag

Cappadocia Red Tour pasabag

The Pasabag fairy chimneys are about as perfect as they come in the region.

Same song, next verse here. Our guide gave us an introduction to the area and then let us roam free for half an hour. Pasabag, translated General’s Vineyard, has some of the best formed Fairy Chimneys in the whole region. And if you are getting bored you can ignore the chimneys and ride a camel (also available at Uchisar and the Open Air Museum).

Not far down the road we were asked to use our imagination in…

Devrent Valley

Cappadocia Red Tour devrent camel rock

The Camel Rock dominates the valley. Don’t you think the rock to the right looks sort of like a snail?

Camel Rock dominates this area but there are many other freaky looking rock formations just begging for someone to put a name on them. Our guide pointed out Napoleon’s hat, the turtle, the seals, the dancing couple and more. After a few minutes for taking pictures and exploring, we were back in the van and on the road towards Urgup.

3 Beauties

Cappadocia Red Tour 3 beauties

Can you spot the papa chimney and the mama chimney with the child clinging to her side? Then look to the right and see the granddad’s head peaking over the hill and the grand mom is just to the left of him.

We did not actually enter Urgup but went above it to the so-called symbol of Cappadocia, a family of fairy chimneys. This three generation set of formations majestically overlooks the valley but at this point of the day the sun is creating harsh shadows making picture taking difficult. We had a few minutes to look around before finishing out trip.

Optional: Carpet Shop or Winery

Cappadocia Red Tour carpet loomAfter leaving the 3 Beauties Efe gave us a choice of finishing the tour or seeing a carpet workshop. One couple was ready to be done so we took them back to their hotel. The rest of us wanted to see the carpet shop so we headed up to TheCappadocia Red Tour silk worms Loom in Uchisar. We were greeted and welcomed into a demonstration room in which the hostess explained the carpet making process while two Turkish women worked away on a loom. Next we observed the fascinating process for extracting silk from a silk worm cocoon. With that done we were ushered into a showroom and had countless handmade carpets and rugs spread out before us. My co-tourists wisely left their credit cards at home fearing they would break the bank. However, they did find some pieces they liked and worked oCappadocia Red Tour carpetsut how to have the carpets shipped to America.

Conclusion

As the clock read 5pm the two ladies were dropped off at their hotel, and I was taken back to my car. (The Korean couple had skipped the carpets and was back by 4pm).

Overall I had a good day and have no problem recommending the Cappadocia Red Tour. Personally, I like the Green Tour better. The sites on the Red Tour are all in this area making them easily accessible without needing a tour. At the same time having a guide adds a lot of information that is otherwise difficult to find and having transportation takes the hassle out of getting around. Hopefully from the information here you will be able to make a good decision as to whether this tour is best for you.

Cover smallerNote: If you are looking for information about the Cappadocia Red Tour, this post will help but be sure to also check out our Cappadocia guidebooks.
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Duke Dillard moved to Turkey with his wife and 6 children in 2007. He got an MBA at Bilkent University in Ankara, where they had their 7th child. After 4 years in Ankara the whole family moved to Cappadocia, and this blog was born. We love Cappadocia and Cappadocians and want to help visitors make the most of their time here. You can connect with Duke on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and/or link circles on Google+. Click here to read more about Duke and his family.