Malatya (Turkey), 29.04.2013
Two weeks into our journey, today we kick-started the day, waking up at 04:30 for our balloon flight over Cappadocia. This region is a truly fascinating piece of nature in the middle of Turkey. And Göreme, the village we arrived at yesterday night, is the gem of the region. The person that introduced balloon flights here should be given an award! We got picked up at the Roma Cave Suites at 05:00. We want to thank the Korean girl at the reception that organised the tour and chose Royal Balloons for us. Or balloon flew just 8 people, and our pilot Tugrul really made us enjoy the flight, the nature and the views. After breakfast at the Royal Balloon station we were driven to our take off site, where 2 balloons were being prepared. We were among the last to depart, the sky was already full of balloons. Normally you fly in big balloons, that take 20-30 people and are less flexible in manoeuvring. We chose a smaller balloon, to avoid the crowds. Our pilot started flying low over the valleys, we could see the beauty of nature around us at close distance, touching the tree tops and getting really close to the rocks (videos here and here). The valleys and rocks are impressive, you can read here how nature created this phenomenon. Then we gained height, up to 700m above the ground. What a view!! We’re trying to upload videos since this morning, but internet connectivity is very bad and we barely manage to get some pictures up. It was also impressive to see the sky full of balloons. Since the weather was great today (clear blue skies, little wind) many people went flying, it must have been 50-80 balloons around us. It was an impressive hour in the air, we took tons of pictures. But the best moments were those just looking around and enjoying the panorama. After landing we had a toast with sparkling wine and were driven back to the hotel. After waking up so early we slept a couple of hours more and restarted the day later, with a second breakfast. Then we packed and went for a tour of the area with our car. We got some places recommended by our Korean receptionist. And indeed we found some astonishing places. There are plenty of places with phallic rock formations. Into these rocks, men have carved all kings of spaces, houses, tombs, churches, storage rooms and who knows what else. There are entire cities underground here. If you have seen Life of Brian, you have an idea of how this might have looked. Apparently, they wanted to film Star Wars here, but the Turkish government declined. The area would have been perfect! We also used it to test the offroad capabilities of our car, and can confirm that it can handle some pretty bad roads 😉
Next stop was the Göreme Open Air Museum, were you can see churches in the rocks decorated with frescoes. It is quite sad to see how such a cultural heritage got partially destroyed by vandalism, but what we were able to see was astonishing. To some extent it reminded me of the Etruscan tombs in Latium (Italy).
At 15:30 we finally finished our tour with a quick lunch and then headed eastwards. Our next stop is 8h away, and we knew we couldn’t make it all today. The mountain range we crossed brought us up to over 1900m into an arid landscape, at the top there was still some snow. We wanted to camp in the mountains tonight, but we found a beautiful spot too early and then later there was one village after another and in between one construction site after the other… So we arrived in Malatya at 20:30. After all the beauty of the last days this place is a sad stop, both the city and the “hotel”. After Ankara I wrote that it would have been our last nice hotel for a while. Well, we saved last night with the cave hotel, but tonight proves this very right. It will be a short night, we want to get out of here asap tomorrow morning. Back into the mountains, to see the next amazing place in Turkey.
More videos to be added once Internet connectivity is available.
Trip data (Day/Total)
– Km driven: 454/6.467
– Hrs driving: 5,5/-
– Diesel l/100km: 8,7/10,2