Arriving at Turkey’s iconic city of Cappadocia is like stepping into a fairytale book where your childish imagination can fly as high as the hot air balloons that litter the skies. This surreal landscape indeed belongs in a different world. The semi-arid land of Cappadocia is separated from the Mediterranean Sea by the soaring Taurus Mountains in the south. Winters bring snow flurries; summer days are hot with very little rain. Its remarkable geography lent itself to a human imprint unique in the world.

Cappadocia is an ancient land dating back to late 300 BC. It has witnessed numerous hordes of Persians, Hittites, and Romans marching across its landscape. The Bronze Age churches and homes create a honeycomb effect along the sandstone cliff faces hanging over vast valleys. Whole cities were built beneath the ground where early Christians hid in fear of marauding Romans. The land is decorated with sculptured landforms resembling inanimate objects, from animals to humans, forming the legendary fairy chimneys that draw thousands of tourists. The land is an earth museum of its journey through time, displaying the effect of eons of relentless wind and rain.

For adventure seekers, Cappadocia offers a plethora of outdoor activities. Getting around can be as thrilling as you want it to be. Use your two legs and trek this incredible ground, jump on a beautiful horse and ride, go mountain biking, or be a daredevil and give rock climbing a chance to get your adrenalin rushing. Trekking is best during spring (April and May) or autumn (September and October) without melting in the midday sun. The winter months (late December to March) bring a blanket of snow, but this is the prime time to indulge in mulled wine (sicak sarap), lentil or tripe soup, and a traditional meat stew enhanced with red wine, cumin, garlic, onion, and tomatoes while cozily ensconced in a crazy cave hotel.

Jinns, Caves and Baklava - Cappadocia, Turkey - The Wise Traveller - Goreme

The Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will leave you gobsmacked as you poke around stone churches with walls smothered in frescoes from the 10th and the 12th centuries nestled inside caves. The Monks Valley and Uchisar Castle have been carved into a massive rock, allowing impressive views over the valley's scattered villages. Derinkuyu, the city of jinn (supernatural creatures similar to a genie but with a nasty attitude) hides 85 meters underground. It's a maze of religious temples, living quarters, stables, and storage rooms where 20,000 people and livestock once lived. Ventilation holes allow fresh air to penetrate the 5 underground levels of ancient urban life. In Uçhisar, it's believed that jinns live all over the village in dark corners, suddenly appearing and disappearing at will. There are even the 'Chimneys of the Jinn,' as caves and rocks are believed to be their favorite places to hide. The mere mention of a jinn will have many Turkish people scurrying in fear—such is their reputation for punishing humans.

The village of Goreme is the central hub of hot air balloon activity— the hot air balloons do not fly if the wind is too strong. Quirky cave hotels line the town's streets, allowing tourists to experience the life of a modern-day troglodyte, albeit wrapped in luxury, depending on your budget. The roads are bustling with travelers and locals in colorful disarray. At the same time, outdoor buzzing bazaars display everything from pumpkin seeds and dried apricots to cowbells. Your senses will be assailed by aromatic spices, plump fresh produce, and sticky golden honey. The unmistakable smell of roasting chestnuts will lure you to the nearest stall during the winter months. Plus, super sweet baklava will leave you licking the sticky remnants from your fingers for some time after devouring this tasty morsel of pastry stuffed with nuts.

Don't miss out on scoffing olives while indulging in the regional wine as you perch on the sandstone ridges of the Red Valley, waiting for that brilliant scarlet sunset with that unbelievable and totally insane view at your feet. You will wonder if you have become Alice in Wonderland when she fell down the rabbit hole.

Gail Palethorpe, a self proclaimed Australian gypsy, is a freelance writer, photographer and eternal traveller. Check out her website Gail Palethorpe Photography and her Shutterstock profile.