Having spent a thoroughly enjoyable day exploring the bizarre landscapes of Pamukkale’s immense calcium carbonate terraces, and the ancient ruins of Hierapolis, we awoke the following morning and found ourselves at a bit of a loose end as to what to do. We’d only wanted and intended to spend a day here, however had we not booked a hotel for the night, we would have been faced with the issue of where to leave our backpacks whilst we explored the travertines. It would have also meant we were unable to have a shower after 10 hours on a bus down from Istanbul, so we made the decision to stay the night.
Now in retrospect I’m glad we did. However, at the time, knowing that we had to wait until 9pm to catch the bus to Goreme (for Cappadocia), and that we’d seen Pamukkale’s one (and only) tourist attraction, all we had to look forward to was a day of doing nothing. For those of you who know me, I’m not very good at that.
We’d seen the paragliders flying down over the travertines yesterday, but had not really considered it with any seriousness due to the high costs involved – or so we thought. However we were wandering through the village, and a guy from one of the paragliding outfits beckoned us over. He spoke perfect English (he’d even picked up the slang ‘sick’, meaning ‘awesome’) and was so enthusiastic about what he does. My boyfriend Stu is big into what’s been labelled as ‘Extreme Sports’ (Skiing, Snowboarding, Surfing, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Hand-gliding), so the two of them very quickly became engrossed in conversation about it all, together with the scientific and technical facts and figures behind it. We spent a good hour just hanging out with this guy, watching clips on YouTube of base jumpers, people in flight suits, the guy who fell from Space…) and drinking Turkish tea. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend what was going to be our ‘wasted day’.
However the day got much better when he offered to take us out paragliding for 100TL each (around £35). It was low season, the weather had only just started improving, we were a couple of the first tourists he’d spoken to since opening this year, and on top of everything, he was desperate to fly! I could easily spend £35 in the pub at the weekend, so I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity of a new experience for the same price.
So we packed up, jumped in the van, and headed up the mountain. The scenery on the drive up was beautiful, glances of time-forgotten rural life, fresh mountain air, the wind on your face, and the excitement and anticipation of climbing higher and higher towards the sky. When we finally reached the jumping off point, beautiful green hills interspersed by clumps of dense woodland, stretched for as far as the eye could see, and in the distance you could see the travertines, a massive expanse of white, creating a stark contrast to the rich green landscape they covered.
Stu was the first one to take off, so I took my camera in hand and tried to get as many shots as I could before it was my turn to get strapped up and become airborne.
Being the little hobbit that I am, it didn’t didn’t take long for my little running feet to leave the ground. Paragliding is, if you’ve ever done a skydive, much like the part once you’ve released your parachute and you’re sitting there floating, admiring the scenery that you couldn’t really appreciate previously because you were too busy enjoying the sensation; too busy thinking “wow!” Paragliding gave me a wonderful aerial view of Pamukkale, a different perspective from which to view all that we’d seen the day before from ground level.
My only complaint, as with all experiences like that, is that it didn’t last long enough.
- We stayed at the Melrose Hotel, which I can thoroughly recommend for the friendly, helpful staff, and quality of the accommodation and food.
- We paraglided with Hierapolis-Pamukkale Paragliding. I think they’re the only outfit in the village, but again, I can thoroughly recommend.