Pamukkale: Turkey’s Snow White Landscape

After three days just chillin’ in Bodrum, Turkey – no touring, no hiking, just lying by the pool, strolling along the Mediterranean shore and gazing at the tropical scenery, I was ready for an adventure.  And Pamukkale was it!  I tried to book a tour but they only operate on Mondays and Fridays and I didn’t have a lot of room to pick another date.  I asked about a private tour but was told it would be 150Euros/day for two days or 300Euros total. Then I found the bus station and checked out the bus fares, about 40TL (about $25USD) return for the 5.5 hour trip from Bodrum to Pamukkale. Sold! It would be about two hours longer than by car but well worth the money.  It was also a luxurious bus; comfortable seats, air conditioned, with an entertainment system for each seat and an attendant handing out drinks and snacks along the way.  We were scheduled to depart from Bodrum at 9am and we were on the road at 9:03… more prompt than Turkish Airlines.

Pamukkale is a small town made famous for its’ hot springs and calcium deposits.  As the water gurgles up from the hot springs it cascades down a small mountain leaving behind calcium deposits that have hardened over time.  After 2 millennia the hillside is completely covered by the white mineral, giving the appearance of a snow covered mountain.  As you climb up, the rocks are terraced like giant snow covered steps all up the side of the mountain  There are pools of water a beautiful turquoise blue that spills out across the landscape.  It is hard to believe this wasn’t created by artists and designers.  When you get to the top there is a large hot springs called the Ancient Pool, a public swimming area.  The water isn’t as hot as I’ve felt in other hot springs, which is a good thing in the 30+ degree temperatures outside.  For 17TL you can spend two hours soaking in the warm crystal blue waters, soaking up the healing minerals that some believe is a gift from God.

There are 3 entrances to the site but the best and easiest is the south entrance.  When you arrive at the front gate to Pamukkale you pay the 20TL fee, take off your shoes (they are watching) and begin the hike up across the white rocks, wet from the constant cascade of water.  There are a few slippery sections but the rocks are very textured with bumps and waves from the calcium so it’s fairly easy to walk on, just be careful of sharp rocks.  There are some other colours in certain spots from the other minerals in the water; golden yellow, rust red, green from algae, but the overall impression is pure white.  There are also stalactites where the water has been dripping for  centuries, and many pools, some dried up leaving compartments along the hillside, while others are constantly fed by the underground water.  Some pools have been manmade catching the water for people to wade in or take a dip on their hike up.  You see a lot of people hiking up the snow white hill dressed only in their skimpy bathing suits.  The summit is also the site of the ancient city of Hierapolis and there are ruins scattered around including a huge amphitheatre that overlooks the Ancient Pool.  But it is the pristine white landscape that draws the tourists to Pamukkale, not to mention the healing powers of the water,  definitely a must see for anyone travelling through Turkey.

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2 Responses to “Pamukkale: Turkey’s Snow White Landscape”

  1. Andrew
    September 7 at 5:06 pm #

    Do you really have to hike barefoot? How many we talking about?

    • Darren
      September 7 at 5:13 pm #

      Yes you have to go barefoot. The security staff is watching closely (guess they don’t want to mess up the snow white rocks) and not to worry, it’s not too bad, just watch your footing. Aside from a few sharp rocks, it can also be quite slippery!

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