Sparkling White Terraced Hot Springs of Turkey

Pamukkale
The Sparkling white terraces of Pamukkale

Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades is not only an unusual natural and historical site of Turkey, but is also unique in the world. No wonder this place is on nearly every tourists must-see list while exploring Turkey. I couldn’t wait to see these sparkling terraces for myself when I finally arrived in Pamukkale after a long overnight bus ride from Izmir. The bus ride was actually not too bad and as the bus was quite empty we got to flatten our seats and I got some sleep so I arrived ready for my hot-spring adventure. After locking up my backpack at the bus station, and unfortunately my swimming costume with it, I headed out to Pamukkale National Park.

Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades
I am at Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades

Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, contains hot springs and dazzling white terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. These white castles are formed by limestone-laden thermal springs, creating the unbelievable formation of potholes and terraces.

Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades
These sparkling terraces with its bright blue water is amazing
Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades
To think it is all formed naturally!?

There are 17 hot water springs in Pamukkale of which the ranges from 35 °C  to 100 °C . The water that emerges from the springs is transported 320 metres to the head of the terraces and here deposits calcium carbonate as the water reaches the surface. These calcium deposits have created an unreal landscape, made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins. Making Pamukkale a must-see fairytale destination.

Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades
Standing at the top and looking out over the valley below

The water is quite hot all year round and ideal to swim in. Unfortunately as I had safely stowed away my swimming costume for the day I only got to walk through the warm terraces. I do regret not being able to swim and enjoy these unique hot springs, but it gives me a reason to return someday.

Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades
What an amazing sight!

People have bathed in these pools for thousands of years as the water of Pamukkale is famous for its health benefits. It said to be very beneficial to the eyes and skin and is said to have curing properties for illnesses such as asthma and rheumatism. It is the ideal place to soak travel weary bodies and after soaking my tired feet for a while I was ready to explore these amazing terraces.

Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades
It looks like something out of a fairytale!
Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades
Next time I will definitely be swimming in one of these terraces

The highest travertine terraces have 20 m high cliffs and waterfalls, and situated along on the foothills of the Cokelez Mountains. The terrace is about 200 m above the Curuksu plain and extends some 6 km between the villages of Pamukkale and Karahayit.

Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades
Everybody following the path down into the valley

Access to all the terraces were not allowed and I had to follow the main pathway leading from the top of the terraces to the bottom. They say that access is prohibited in order to sustain the water flow and to maintain the colour and structure of the travertine terraces.

Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades
Access denied!

Semi-circular pools occur in a step-like arrangement down the upper third of the slope. I followed the pathway down through these warm pools stopping every couple of feet to admire my surroundings and to try and capture these sparkling white castles on film.

Pamukkale with its sparkling white castle -like cascades
Looking back after walking into the valley

WPC: Japan’s Eerie and mist shrouded Kegon Waterfall hidden in Nikko’s mountains

The mountain Forest was thick with white mist
The mountain Forest was thick with white mist

While living in Tokyo I heard from many people that I couldn’t visit Nikko and not explore the mountain area around Nikko.

The bus traveled up the winding road of Route 120 further into the mist covered mountains and I got peaks at waterfalls and rivers down below. It is not a ride I would recommend to anybody who gets car sick easily as the bus is constantly swerving as it makes its way up the winding narrow road. I definitely understood then why this was called the winding road of 100 turns.

The surrounding forests were shrouded in mist wich definitely gave the place an Eerie feel.

The mist was so thick that we couldnt go up the mountain in the cable car
The mist was so thick that we couldn’t go up the mountain in the cable car

A photo doesn’t have to be blatantly macabre to be eerie. But it can have a mysterious, otherworldly vibe — the viewer wonders what lurks in the shadows. Something eerie has a story to tell — one you aren’t quite sure you want to know.….

The mist was so thick that at times I couldnt see more that a meter in front of me. This thick shroud of mist over Lake Chuzenji crested an eerie atmosphere. Seeing as eerie means mysterious, strange, or unexpected as to send a chill up the spine  it is perfect to describe the day.

Looking down at the tallest waterfall in Japan!!
Looking down at the tallest waterfall in Japan!!
Had to go down stairways, through tunnels and down a lift to get to the bottom of the gorge
Had to go down stairways, through tunnels and down a lift to get to the bottom of the gorge

A short walk up the mist covered road of  Lake Chuzenji I reached Kegon Waterfall, the tallest waterfall in Japan. It was covered in mist and looked like something out of a fairy tale. The lift goes 100m down into the gorge with the temperatures dropping all the way down.

It feels quite strange travelling that far down and then having to emerge out of the mountain and still be above the river.  Here at the bottom of the gorge was viewing platform and I got to see the waterfall from below.

Keagon Waterfall from the viewing platform in the gorge
Kegon Waterfall from the viewing platform in the gorge

From below the mist covered gorge you would be excused if you thought you were cut off from civilization and in a world of mystery. The place was quite deserted due to the thick mist which just added to the eerie feeling of being separated from reality.

The Yudaki Falls up the mountain
The Yudaki Falls up the mountain

The bus took the winding roads even higher up into the mountain, crossing over the Yukawa River and passing the Yudaki Falls. Here I got off the bus to relax with a hot coffee next to the waterfall.

Arriving at Lake Yunoko
Arriving at Lake Yunoko

Further north we stopped at Lake Yunoko an area filled with “onsen” hot springs.

A hot spring where you can rest your tired feet!
A hot spring where you can rest your tired feet!

There were some hot springs along the path that were free like this one where you can come and rest your tired feet after exploring the surrounding countryside!

 

The Onsen - Hot Spring!!
The Onsen – Hot Spring!!

I got a Nikko and area tourist brochure beforehand because they had some discount vouchers for most of the onsens in the area attached to the brochure. After walking around the lake area I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in an Onsen with a book before heading back to Nikko. It was fabulous, the place was so deserted that I was all alone in the hot spring!

 

Pirate ships and hot springs at Lake Ashi in Japan

My friend Yvonne and I left on the Romance train from Tokyo to Hakone. Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than 100 kilometers from Tokyo. Famous for hot springs, natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji across Lake Ashi.

Lake Ashi
Arriving at Lake Ashi
A glimpse of Lake Ashi on our walk
A glimpse of Lake Ashi on our walk

It was a lovely hot sunny day and we could make out the tip of the mountain in the distance.

We took a bus to the lake and then intended to take a ferry across. It took us a while to find the dock as we missed the turn off and walked a 2km detour next to the lake and up the mountain.

Finally found the right pier from where to cross the lake
Finally found the right pier from where to cross the lake
The "pirate ship" we took to cross Lake Ashi
The “pirate ship” we took to cross Lake Ashi

Lake Ashi is crisscrossed by cartoonishly decorated “pirate” ships for tourists and we couldn’t resist also going on one of these. Lake Ashinoko was formed in the caldera of Mount Hakone after the volcano’s last eruption 3000 years ago. Today, the lake with Mount Fuji in the background is the symbol of Hakone.

This boat cruise from one end of the lake to the other took us roughly 30 minutes and gave us enough time to admire the beautiful lake and its surroundings.

View of Lake Ashi from the cable car
View of Lake Ashi from the cable car
I would definitely recommend the cable car ride across the mountain for the beautiful views!
I would definitely recommend the cable car ride across the mountain for the beautiful views!

Waiting line for the cable car
Waiting line for the cable car

Once we reached the other side we had a long cable car ride across the mountains. From the cable car we had fabulous views of the countless hot springs dotted all over the area and the huge forest expanse.

No trip to Hakone would be complete without a dip at a Japanese hot spring (onsen)We ended our Hakone trip by relaxing in one of these natural hot springs. We went to a small place named “Kappa Tengoku”.

It had lovely outdoor baths and was situated very close to Yumoto Station. The wooden bath house was slightly run-down but was very atmospheric. The mist that rolled in with dusk gave the baths a very relaxing and calming atmosphere.

The Hot spring we relaxed in at  Kappa Tengoku
The Hot spring we relaxed in at Kappa Tengoku

 I just loved relaxing in these hot springs!!