From the very first time I saw photos of the pure white cliffs and sparkling blue waters of Pamukkale I was entranced and knew I had to visit someday. That someday turned out to be the first day of September as Melek and I spent an entire day exploring the site, which turns out to be a World Heritage Site and translates directly from Turkish as “Cotton Castle”.
We tried to be at the bottom of the cliff as close to 8am as possible to beat the crowds and were rewarded by only having a couple dozen people with us as we took our shoes off and walked up the pure white, calcium encrusted cliff. As we climbed we expected it to be slippery, but the calcium is quite grippy. On the way up you can wade into various shallow pools (knee deep) of the most beautiful shade of turquoises water. Some of the pools are new man made others are ancient man made and still others are natural.
It was an absolutely wonderful experience and I would have been totally happy if it ended there, but it did not. Turns out the Roman town of Hierapolis was founded above the cliffs in the 2nd century BC as a thermal and health spa, so we got to walk around the ruins of another Roman city.
The best part of this city was the fact that for a little bit more money we could swim in the same hot springs pools as ancient Romans. The pool had a natural bottom and the sides were partly natural and partly man made with marble blocks. Laying underwater were several columns here and there. It was absolutely magical to be swimming in the warm water (hot springs is a bit of a streatch, haha). The one funny things was they told me no cameras were allowed as I swam around with a GoPro in my hand (so they could sell thier photos), but did not say anything when I was actually taking photos before that (haha, their lose).
We thought about going paragliding over the site, but ran out of time in the day. One other thing we did do was paddle boat around the pond at the base of the cliff the night before. Melek was thinking it would be boring, but by the end she loved it and thought it was perfect. In the middle of the pond is a small island filled with little birds. When we got there and had dinner the sky was filled with them and the waiter said they were returning for the day. He said wait 30 minutes and they will all be quiet and asleep. Boy was he right. As we paddled near the island you could see the bushes covered in the birds. It was lovely.
If you ever visit Pamukkale I highly recommend wearing a hat and good sunglasses. Also spring and fall are the best times because summer can be very hot and in winter your feet will freeze as you can only walk up the white cliffs barefoot.