Young Thais are drawn by the big city lifestyle
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 honoured 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 mountains, 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.
Ilhan’s company The Dalton Brothers, based at the stables behind Anatolian Balloons in Göreme, offers rides lasting from one hour (£15) 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 £13).
Where to stay
Sultan Cave Suites gives a stylish impression of the troglodyte lifestyle. The stone-cut, honey coloured rooms were once stables, wineries and storerooms. Wavy walls and volcanic colour-banding mix with chiselled features such as arches and ceiling roses (from £70).