Ballooning is the only way to travel

We are now into our second week and we’ve crammed so much in I don’t know where to start, Istanbul seems like a life time ago.

Thankfully the Calypsolites are now over the sickness bug that swept camp in the first couple of days and are in fine spirits. From Canakkale we head to the lovely seaside town of Kusadasi. After a few days with no showers most of the group are keen for a shower, which are thankfully warm and powerful. 

With Kusadasi as our base for a couple of nights we are free to explore the local area which is home to the ruins of Ephesus, one of the best preserved classic cities in the Mediterranean. The site is spectacular and has been carefully and thoughtfully restored giving us a real sense of what the city would have been like. 

View from the top of the ampitheater in Ephesus:

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The next morning we jump on the truck for a short drive to Pamukkale. Upon arrival we take a wander straight up the white terraces, a natural formation created by the warm flowing spring water. 

The Calypsolites in one of the pools in Pamukkale:

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The terraces are wonderful and the water warm but we were put off getting in when we count a number of leeches on the way up. 

On our second day in Pamukkale I am compelled to throw myself off a mountain with a small Turkish man strapped to my back; myself and a few of the less stable members of the group are going paragliding. With my heart firmly in my mouth I am strapped in, a couple of leaps down the mountain and I’m in the air. The view is stunning and being smallest of the group I rise higher and higher. After 20 minutes in the air we finally come back down to earth with a bump. 

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From Pamukkale we are off to our first bush camp. After the longest drive day yet, and a stunning lunch spot, we pull off the road onto a dirt track. A short meander down this track we come across the farmer and his son who enthusiastically tell us we can camp on their land.  We pull up and set up camp. Within a matter of minutes we are joined by what appears to be five members of the Turkish mafia! They arrive dressed in suits and carrying beer and promptly park themselves on our chairs, around our campfire and settle in for the night. Our group are somewhat bemused by this but take it in good spirits and soon we are laughing and joking and trying to communicate with them in broken English. When our painful versions of Glee and numerous power ballads fail to drive them away most of us head for our tents, only to crawl out five minutes later when Teresa and Simon (aka our almighty leaders) have persuaded them to leave. This is why I love bush camping, you never know what’s going to happen.

What a place for a picnic:

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The first bush camp:

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The Turkish Mafia:

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A fretful night sleep was had by all, fear of the mafia and the cold didn’t help matters. We left early and drove straight to the spectacular city of Goreme. Our campsite boasts incredible views over the Cappadocia area. Famed for it’s ‘fairy chimney’ houses this place is certainly weird and wonderful. We spend our first day exploring the peculiar rock formations and have a tour of one of the underground cities. 

The view over the Cappadocia region:

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The following day is one of the highlights of the trip so far. Despite rising at 4.30am there is a ripple of excitement in camp. This is what we have come here for, today I will get the opportunity to try out my second mode of air transport in one week; hot air ballooning. We arrive for breakfast at the launch site and are served tea and buns. We wait nervously and are soon called to our balloon. All twenty of us squeeze into one basket and soon we’re in the air. This strange landscape is suddenly transformed. All I can see for miles are balloons rising with the heat. Nothing I could put into words could describe this so here are a selection of photos, this really is the only way I want to travel from now on!

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