When I traveled to Cappadocia with my dear friend, Kelsey, the secret evil eye tree in Cappadocia was not on our agenda…in fact, when we arrived to this almost otherworldly location, it wasn’t even on our radar (it was a “secret,” after all). However, as dark clouds rolled in and winds started to howl, we anticipated the hot air balloon ride we dreamt about would have to take a rain check.
At first, it’s easy to let the disappointment kick-in, but rather than dwell on the ‘if only’ or what you don’t have, it’s better to focus on the good. In life, and in travel, you have to go with the flow—and oftentimes these ‘mishaps’ when traveling serve as a reminder that not everything will go as planned, you must embrace the present moment, and realize that something else was meant for you. In this case, we received our ‘something else’ in the form of a mystical skeleton-like tree, covered in cobalt blue talismans.
Cappadocia is a somewhat remote location in the middle of Turkey—about an hour flight from Istanbul—and there are two main airports that can connect you to the region. Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR) is about a one-hour drive to the center of Cappadocia, or the Nevşehir-Kapadokya Airport (NEV) will get you about 30 minutes outside of the city. You could opt for a night bus—Metro Turizm or Nevşehir Seyahat—though they take about 10-12 hours.
Upon arriving in Cappadocia, our hotel, Esbelli Evi, arranged for a shuttle to pick us up from the airport. Taxis run in to the city, but you can book a shuttle that will take you directly to your hotel, and it’s typically more cost-effective than a taxi.
There are several options for airport shuttle vans that will take you right to your hotel, which we suggest booking ahead. Check out Helios Transfer, Cappadocia Shuttle Services, or Argeus Travel Service.
*We took a flight on Pegasus Airlines, and round-trip (back to Istanbul), it was just short of $100 USD.
We met up with Halis of Voyager Balloons, and he apologized for the gloomy and windy weather we were greeted with. I’m sure he could sense our disappointment, but we assured him that he had no control of the weather and it was better to play it safe, than risk going up.
Halis asked if we’d be up for a private tour of the region instead. How could we turn that down? He called one of his teammates and reported that our driver and guide, Üzeyir, would arrive shortly. Shortly after, we hopped into the back of our 4-wheeled chariot (or rather a large Tahoe), and our fearless driver began winding down the canyon roads, swerving at each curve and speeding up to make the drive all the more exhilarating. The rouge, rugged terrain made it feel like we were on set of a Star Wars film…it truly was otherworldly.
After an afternoon of exploring, Üzeyir asked if we had heard of the Evil Eye Tree. We both shook our heads as he turned up a winding dirt road, dust flying behind the car.
And that’s when we spotted it. Overlooking the Göreme Valley in Cappadocia was a gorgeous tree decorated with cobalt blue amulets. The vibrant blues of the beads bold were striking against the barren tree, with the yellow and red hues of the landscape in the background. The owner of the little shop next to the tree gifted each of us an evil eye amulet, and it remains on my keyring to this day.
Note: We’ve since learned that there are two ‘evil eye trees’ in the area—one overlooking Pigeon Valley, and the one we visited. The one we were taken to was on a semi-deserted road, with a little shop next to it, and tons of rocky terrain. If you ask your guide, they will probably be able to help you locate this hidden gem. Who knows—maybe your guide will know of a different secret tree!
The evil eye beads, also called nazar boncuğu, or simply nazar, are found all throughout Turkey and most places in Greece. Nazar is an Arabic word which translates to sight, surveillance, and attention. Though commonly referred to as evil eyes, they are actually a symbol of good luck and meant to ward off evil, jealously, and bad spirits.
In Turkey, these glass beads can be found hanging everywhere: off of doors, food carts, inside homes, in cars. It’s said that if the bead is broken for whatever reason, the amulet has worked to protect you and ward off an evil feeling. The evil eye bead is an object which captures so many elements of Turkish culture in one: beliefs, practices, oral history.
Fragments of evil eye glass beads have been found in Anatolian settlements, dating back to 2500-3000 years ago. It’s commonly believed that the blue hue comes from Tengri, the god of Turkish tribes, as he was affiliated with the color. Though some people believe the origin of the symbol actually derives from Medusa’s evil eyes.
Had we just gone the traditional route and taken a balloon ride over the valley, we would have missed so much: the Evil Eye Tree, the Red Rock Valley, the fairy chimneys. We got to experience a local’s version of Cappadocia—taking us to secret spots with incredible views, and he even introduced us to some of his friends along the way. So, let this serve as a reminder that things may not always go as planned—but embrace it, and something better is bound to come along.
We’d love to hear about mishaps that happened while you were traveling and what that led to instead! Drop us a comment below, we’re interested to hear your story. 🙂
And, if you’re heading to Cappadocia anytime soon—check out Voyager Balloons!
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