Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia is world-famous but will have to share its first place with Pamukkale very soon. Hot air ballooning has been available in Pamukkale for a few years now and attracts many tourists. The white cotton castle with terraces of shallow pools in Pamukkale is just as fascinating as the fairy chimneys in Cappadocia.
You can admire Pamukkale on your bare feet, while you are hanging in the air and/or from an antique swimming pool. This Turkish natural phenomenon resembles a collection of frozen waterfalls but is also sometimes compared to a “castle of cotton” because of the cotton looking white travertine terraces and it is the literal translation of “Pamukkale.” It is said that the waters in the terraces have healing and beautifying powers. The Romans were the first to notice and built the ancient city of Hierapolis more than 2000 years ago.
The water from the springs is at least 35 degrees Celsius. The water is not only warm, but also mineralized and calcareous. So, there’s no ice to be seen anywhere. The “castle” is in total about 200 meters high and consists of several terraces (horizontal pieces of land). The water flows from the springs over the terraces and by limestone deposits of the water a thick, white layer is formed on the terraces.
At the top of the terraces you can find the so-called “antique pool”. This is a large natural pool, where you can bathe in the warm, mineralized spring water. The water would have had a healing effect in the past, and it is claimed that this is still the case. Medicinal or not, a visit to an antique bath is definitely a special experience. What makes this pool extra special is that you will encounter pillars and other remains. There was once a temple, which collapsed due to an earthquake.
The hot air balloon ride starts just before the sun rises because this is the best and safest time of the day. A hot air balloon is particularly sensitive to thermals; these are rising columns of air that occur when the sun warms up the earth. When the sun is at its highest point, there is a high possibility of this phenomenon and at thermals, it is difficult for the pilot to control the balloon. So, waking up early in the morning for a balloon ride is definitely worth it!
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The pilot has access to the most up to date weather information and will decide if the conditions are perfect to fly. The ground crew will make everything ready to launch the hot air balloon. Once in the air, the sun appears from behind the mountains and a breathtaking sunrise follows. It is without a doubt the most beautiful and impressive sunrise you will ever see. After more than an hour of floating around in an air full of colourful balloons, it is time to land. In the end, there’s a glass of champagne waiting for everyone to celebrate an unforgettable experience.
The best way to see all the beauty in Pamukkale in one hour is by flying in a hot air balloon. The view below and the sunrise are just magical! The advantage is that a balloon ride in Pamukkale is cheaper than in Cappadocia.
Only 25 years ago Pamukkale was a village with a few hotels and no tourists. Now every year more than a million visitors come to Pamukkale. With the increasing and excessive use of the thermal springs in the hotels and also in agriculture, there was not enough water left for the limestone terraces. The white stones were given a grey veil. The beauty of Pamukkale was in danger. Pamukkale had survived many millennia, the baths with the medicinal thermal water and the town of Hierapolis above the terraces. The environmentalists who had already warned for a long time were unfortunately right in Pamukkale. Moral support came from UNESCO, which placed Pamukkale and Hierapolis on the world heritage list. The World Bank also took part in the rescue operation. The public was kept away from the limestone terraces for some time, to prevent more damage.
The terraces are white again, and you can swim in the pools like the Romans did 2000 years ago. However, only certain areas are open for tourists to keep the terraces white.