Distance: 9.9 miles (16 km)
Avg.Time: 4 hours (add on at least another four to explore the impressive rock-cut, fresco-laden churches along the way)
Start / Finish:
- Ihlara Village – Selime
- Public transport is available to both villages/trailheads from the town of Aksaray (1 hour). If you are staying in Goreme, regular minibuses make the 1.5 hour journey to Aksaray, where you will need to transfer.
- Tour companies out of Goreme run trips to Ihlara, but most of these are rushed affairs which only take in a portion of the gorge, before zipping off to their next destination.
Season: April – November
Maps / Info:
- No map necessary. Simply follow the gorge in your chosen direction.
- An important monastic centre during the Byzantine period, Ihlara Gorge is famed for its many churches. Carved from the rock and decorated with religious iconography, some of the more impressive examples include Kirk Kilisesi (Church of St.George), Direkli Kilise (Church of Pillars) and Agicalti Kilises (Church under the Tree).
Route / Conditions:
- The walking is easy and pleasant, following the course of the largely shaded Melendiz stream as it meanders its way through the gorge.
- All water taken from Melendiz stream should be purified.
- Food can be bought in Ihlara, Selime or the village of Bellisirma, roughly situated at the midway point of the gorge. The latter of the three alternatives makes for a great lunch stop.
- To give yourself as much time as possible, I recommend overnighting in either Selime or Ihlara. Make an early start the following morning and chances are you will have the gorge all to yourself (at least for the first few hours).
- The hike through Ihlara Gorge represents a wonderful fusion of natural, artistic, historical and cultural elements.