Cappadocia, Turkey (Day Two)

My second day in Cappadocia was the definitely the highlight of the trip – an early morning hot air balloon right over the region. It was absolutely breathtaking – the photos are great, but they do not even nearly describe the incredible feeling, the stillness in the air, and the spectacular sight of the magnificent landscape below. Getting up at 5am was definitely well worth it! If you make a visit to Cappadocia, a hot air balloon right is an absolute must. There are many companies offering this experience – just double check their reviews and safety ratings, as there have been a few accidents in the past.

The rest of the day was spent further exploring Cappdocia, before I heading off on an overnight bus to Pammukale.

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Cappadocia, Turkey (Day One)

The next few posts will be about my short time spent visiting amazing Turkey, well more specifically Cappadocia, Pammukale and Istanbul. Turkey is such a large country, with so many amazing  places to visit. I had less than a week to spend in Turkey, so did not really see enough. But what I did see, I absolutely loved, and will definitely make another trip back, most probably to the Turquoise Coast and Eastern Turkey.

After spending just a night in Istanbul, I had an early morning flight to Kayseri and then onto the region known as Cappadocia, or in Turkish, Kapadokya. This rural region in central Turkey has topped most visitors’ must see list due to the interesting land formations caused by spirts of ash as a result of volcanic activity in the area thousands of years ago.

If you don’t have a car, I would recommend taking a day tour (there are many providers which offer day tours from Goreme), over at least two days, of the region, as it isn’t very well accessible by public transport. On these tours you will visit and experience the region’s great walking tracks, magnificent landscapes, friendly people, fantastic food, and the list goes on.

Here are a few photos on my first day in the region, which comprised of taking a walking through the  scenic countryside, visiting a carpet weaving collective, exploring the town of Goreme and witnessing a beautiful sunset over the surrounding landscape.

Stay tuned: The next post will have some beautiful images taken from my early morning hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia. Not to be missed.
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Essentials

Getting there:
Atlas Airlines and Turkish Airlines have regular flights to and from Istanbul to Kayseri. From Kayseri, try to organise a transfer with your accommodation in Cappadocia, as there public transport system doesn’t cater for this route, as far as I know. There are also regular buses to and from Istanbul, and other cities around Turkey from Goreme.

Stay:
There is a plethora of accommodation options in Goreme. Do the touristy thing, and stay in a cave hotel – a hotel which is built into the ashen rock formations which are found throughout Goreme. I stayed at Peri Cave hostel – the rooms were basic, but clean, the staff helpful and the breakfast amazing – I had an entire table full of an array of fruit, fresh bread, a selection cheeses and olives, boiled eggs, cold meats….

 

 

 

Dead Sea, Jordan

Our final stop in our tour of Jordan was a visit to the Dead Sea. We spent an afternoon experiencing the unique and amazing feeling of floating on the Dead Sea, as well as a few hours spent relaxing by the pool of a Dead Sea holiday resort. Prior to arriving, I was expecting to spend the afternoon on a beach, and was pleasantly surprised to arrive at an amazing resort – with beautiful pools and a endless supply of sun-lounges. After a week spent sitting in a mini-bus, exploring ancient ruins, and discovering new landscapes and cities, it was nice just to relax by the pool, even if it was only for a few hours.

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Little Petra & Wadi Rum, Jordan

After an amazing day spent in Petra, we spent an incredible afternoon and evening in the desert of Wadi Rum.

Before heading towards Wadi Rum, we made a quick stop at Little Petra, a less known and less visited archeological site, close to Petra, but on a much smaller scale.

In Wadi Rum, we took a two hour drive through the desert and watched an incredible sunset. We spent the night in a well equipped campsite in the desert, and after a sumptuous feast, we partied the night away with the locals.

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Petra, Jordan

Petra is such an amazing place. I have travelled a lot and seen some incredible places, and Petra is up there as one of them. It is incredible that this site, which once once a vibrant and lively city, was not ‘discovered’ until 1812, as the site is huge and there is still much of the city to be uncovered. But the city is well ‘hidden’ between the mountains in which it is built. Driving into Petra and looking out onto the mountains, you cannot even detect any semblance of the city.

It is thought that Petra has been inhabited since 312 by the Nabataeans and was the centre of their caravan trade. They built some incredible structures in the red rock of Petra, which still stand today. The city was inhabited by the local bedouins until 1985, when it became a world heritage site and the bedouin people were relocated in a village nearby. Today these people work in the site, offering camel and donkey rides, selling souvenirs and running cafes.

Petra is one of those must see places and of course the highlight of any trip to Jordan.

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Essentials:

Getting there:
There are many tours from both Amman and Aquaba which offer day or multi-day tours to Petra. Once in Petra village, the site is only a short walk away.

Don’t miss:
Have a chat with the bedouin/kiwi guy selling copies of his mother’s book “Married to a Bedouin” by Marguerite van Geldermalsen.  In 1978 his mother made a trip to Jordan and ended up marrying a bedouin man and living there. Her son has since lived in New Zealand and Australia and is a great guy to have a chat to. He sells copies of his mother’s book and some beautiful locally handcrafted jewellery.

 

Mt Nebo & Shobak Castle, Jordan

On our way to Petra, we took a few stops to visit Mount Nebo and Shobak Castle.

Mount Nebo was the site where, according to Christian and Jewish teachings, Moses was given the view of the promised land. According to some traditions, it is also the burial site of Moses. From Mount Nebo, there is a panoramic view of Jerusalem, the Jordan River and Jericho, which can be seen on a clear day.

After a few hours drive, and just before we reached Petra, we made a quick stop at Shobak Castle to explore the ruins of the 12th century crusaders fortress.  Unfortunately, much of the site was destroyed, so what you see today is largely the reconstruction.

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Jeresh, Jordan

Known as Pompeii of the East, Jeresh was our second stop in Jordan. I was very impressed with the size of the archeological site and the quality and quantity of ruins to be found there. This once spectacular city was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 749AD, with further earthquakes and war further decimating the city, it was not until 1806 that is was discovered and excavation and reconstruction work began. The remains of Greco-Roman Jeresh which can be see today include: The Corinthium column, Hadrian’s Arch, the circus/hippodrome, the two large temples (dedicated to Zeus and Artemis), the nearly unique oval Forum, which is surrounded by a fine colonnade, the long colonnaded street or cardo, two theatres (the Large South Theatre and smaller North Theatre), two baths, and a scattering of small temples and an almost complete circuit of city walls. Spending half a day is more than enough to more than adequately explore the ruins of the old city.

The visit to Jeresh was part of my tour, but being so close to Amman, not more than an hour’s drive, I’m sure that there would be public transport services between Amman and Jeresh, making a day trip to see these amazing ruins quite easily achievable from Amman.

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