As the dazzling white chalk terraces of Pamukkale come into view. a weary tourist might well be forgiven for thinking that he was suffering from a severe case ofTurkish ‘bus-lag‘. or that his last beer had been spiked. for the aptly-named Cotton Castle (Pamukkale) is pure hallucination. Imagine somewhere between a lone Swiss Alp and a stark mountain range snuggling an improbable sprawl of pensions in the valley below and — pinch yourself—
you‘re in Pamukkale.
Pamukkale is about 14km to the north of Denizli (the nearest sizeable town) and is best reached by dolmus or shared taxi. The so-called Cotton Castle consists of a huge chalk formation with interlocking basins of mineral water warm enough to wallow in. The water that flows down over the terraces has its source from the thermal springs at the top of the Cotton Castle (where the water is at its hottest at a temperature of 33°C). The mineral water at Pamukkale has a high concentration
Getting There The nearest airport to Pamukkale is Izmir and ﬂights departing I Ieathrow are available for £256 return. (‘heaper fares are on offer from Trailfinders. 42—48 Earls (‘ourt Road. London. 01 937 9631.
Student and young person flights are available. ('ontact student
specialists (‘ampus Travel. The Hub. Ilillhead Street and 90 John Street. Glasgow. 041 552 2867 and the Edinburgh Travel centre. Bristo Square. Edinburgh. 03] 6682162 for further details. Iiurotrain and Transalpino also do a return fare to Istanbul at £215.80 for under 26s (departing London).
After arriving at Izmir. it is a 3—4 hour coach drive to Pamukkale.
At night the pools ofwater overflow into each other and flow down the mountain to form ‘thc channels‘. At the top ofthe Cotton Castle you will see displayed on signs: ‘Entry to the channels is forbidden‘ to discourage any wayward tourist. Despite the danger element. sitting in the channels is an incredible. iffoolhardy experience. The channels only fill up at night. when they become bubbling torrents of water rushing even faster and deeper — hence the danger— down towards the valley. The reward is sitting in a warm. natural jacuzzi with an amazing view of the valley below and the stars above. But beware of the chalk deposits which will linger on the body — your holiday tan will become a ghostly shade of white. so wash extremely thoroughly afterwards. In Pamukkale itself there are numerous hotels and pensions catering for a wide range of purses. All ofthcm have their own swimming pools filled with naturally blue mineral water from the springs. The sanitation in your Turkish
bathroom, in general. leaves a lotto be desired. but your room will be impeccable. There is a small nucleus of restaurants and baths in Pamukkale, most ofwhich are reasonably cheap and the service is extremely efficient. Ifyou get bored with kebabs. there is also a pizzeria for those suffering from homesickness.
Snakehunting is one of Pamukkale’s least publicised tourist attractions — and with good reason. Not for the squeamish nor for those who attract the attention of mosquitoes, it involves a hefty trek into the Pamukkale countryside and a lot ofhanging around murky streams. where you might be unlucky enough to catch (or be caught by) a snake. Apparently. snakes like still, clear water and, I suppose, this is why, in our quest to find a suitable snake habitat. the snakehunt assumed shades of a Nazi death march. Needless to say not a single snake was to be seen — though the local insect life was, in plenty.
If you follow the main road up to
From November 1 British citizens will require a visa to enterTurkey.
What T0 Know Before You Go Background: Pamukkale is in the South-Westof Turkey and boastsa variety of beautiful open spaces. countryside. forests etc.
(‘limatez Winters can be chilly with an occasional snowstorm. The average temperature in January is
SCSummers are often 1 accommodation which IS 1
the top of the Cotton Castle there is a collection of spa pools cluttered with the remains of Roman ruins and filled with water from the springs. This is where the waters are hottest and are claimed to have all kinds of medicinal properties. The pools are situated in a hotel complex with an adjacent cafe. Find yourselfa Roman column (the pools are littered with them) in the fizzy. hot Schweppes and prepare to relax as the water gently bubbles against your skin. In early May you get the added bonus of rhododendrons in bloom fringing the spas.
The hotels at the top of the Cotton Castle stand side by side with the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis. originally founded by Ionian Greeks. The Romans later developed it into a thriving spa resort. But after the Seljuk conquest. Hierapolis declined. The remains of the Roman baths can still be seen.
The road beyond the Roman baths takes you through an avenue of columns, and camels. accompanied by their owners dressed in improbable ethnic garb pose wearily for the tourists. It also takes you past a ruined agora and a theatre, which once held an audience of 15.000. Beyond these ruins. you will see a cemetery with the remains of ancient sarcophagi — an impressive contrast to the Cotton Castle.
Following this road. you can take a dolmus to the Kirmizi Su (the Red Spring) which seems to be frequented almost entirely by locals. The Kirmizi Su is a haven of tranquillity with pools filled with muddy mineral water and surrounded on all sides by mountains. A restaurant overlooks the pools for those in need of refreshment. Next door is the Red Spring itself. which pipes boiling hot water onto the red rock which glints red-gold in the setting sun.
Cleaner and healthier than the average tourist resort. Pamukkale has more interesting ways to dunk your body in water than a mere trip to the seaside can offer. A must for anyone who feels the need of a bit of unreality in their holiday.
muggy with an average relevant to tqeir size. Useiul Addresses temperature in August of - Turkish Tourist Office. 24C. Getting Around
Population: Both Pamukkale and Denizli are small towns and not very densely populated. Currency: Turkish Lira. The current exchange rate is approximately 3500 to the £1.
Where to Stay I’amukkale and Denizli . offera small range of , hotels and i
Taxis are cheap. all have meters and are required to use them. There are also i line taxis (dolmus) which 3 travel fixed routes. Fares I are posted at the dolmus stands. Buses are even cheaper. though usually packed and cover an extensive network. Transport is cheap as the Turkish rely on it so I
170 Piccadilly. London. 01 734 8681. They are very friendly and willing to send you an information
' ck ( ‘quest. Usefiif ' Pubhcahons I Turkey: A Travel Survival i Kit (Lonely Planet. ' £7.95). Guides printed in English are available all over Turkey as are English speaking tourist offices.
64 The List 15 — 28 September 1989