Suspended high in the air over the ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations and magnificent valleys of Cappadocia, everything was still. The soft light of sunrise sprinkled its magic across the land, and we stood in the basket of the hot air balloon, packed in like sardines, in silent awe. It was my first hot air balloon ride, and although I’d been paragliding before, and taken more flights than I care to remember, the splendour of rising up into the sky in this way was truly unique.
It was every bit as glorious as I’d imagined it would be, with an added element of fear that I’d not expected. Our pilot skillfully guided the balloon perilously close to the weird and wonderful rocky peaks, skimming the basket past them with what felt like just millimeters to spare. The landing site was interesting too, a tiny flat grassy area surrounded by sloping terrain and rocks. We all breathed a sigh of relief when we touched down safely.
The relief was short lived though, as we began to float up into the air again without our pilot who had already hopped over the side of the basket! I was ready to jump out, but quickly realized we were securely tethered and breathed a second sigh of relief. Once we’d actually landed I stamped my feet on the earth a few times just to make sure!
With my new found appreciation for the ground beneath my feet, I enjoyed a long trek through the valley, keen to explore the territory in greater detail. I set off with plenty of water, legs full of energy and a heart full of excitement. I wanted to find the most impressive collection of fairy chimneys, but instead of checking a guide book I confidently marched off down a track which seemed to go in the right general direction.
I ended up, several hours later, exhausted, lost and very hot. I’d run out of water and had shoes full of thorns, but I felt so happy! I had no idea how I was going to find my way back, but I knew that I would. My calmness amazed me. I put it down to the silence of the valley and the steadiness of the pale golden rocks that seemed to watch over me.
The next day I stumbled upon the particular collection of fairy chimneys I’d been searching for, having absolutely no idea how I’d managed to miss them!
Despite there being quite a few other people wandering around, taking photos and soaking up the scenery, it felt eerily quiet. There were plenty of times when I found myself completely alone amidst the staggering rock formations. It was like being in a Bond movie, but instead of an enemy stepping out from behind a pillar to shoot me with a gun, it was a tourist with a camera!
I’d come from the sprawling mega-city of Istanbul to the sleepy town of Goreme in Cappadocia, and it had taken me a little while to adjust to the change of pace. I thought back to the day I’d arrived there and had hiked up out of town to a viewpoint to watch the sunset with some fellow travellers who’d been on the road for a really long time.
My companions were so relaxed and content, quietly absorbing the last few rays of warm light as the sun slowly disappeared behind the horizon. I smiled to myself at the memory, realizing I was now in that same mode, inevitably harmonized by my immersion in this wonderful landscape.
Even in the town it was impossible to feel disconnected from the land, as many of the buildings are carved into the rock. The guest house I stayed in was a ‘cave’ house. It was more basic than some of the ‘cave hotels’ you might see pictures of, but you still got the full troglodyte experience! I got a great night’s sleep there every night due to the silence and dark offered by my cave room, and it even had a pool to lounge by, for when I eventually emerged into the light.
I don’t think I could take to the cave life on a permanent basis, although it does have a certain appeal…
… But my time in the fairyland of Cappadocia certainly left me recharged, relaxed and ready for my next Turkish adventure!
Thank you for reading. I would love to hear about your experiences of Cappadocia, or any other fantastic natural wonders of this world. Or just leave me a comment to say hello, it’s wonderful to meet fellow travel/nature lovers.SHARE