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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars


Turkey - 27 September, 2002



Location Latitude Longitude Elevation

Travel Distance

Start Göreme (Kaya Campsite) N38º38.209' E034º51.264' 1,228 meters .
Balloon flight over the Cappadocia . . . .
-  Start N38º39.166' E034º50.448' 1,067 meters .


Avg. 5.5 km/h Max. 32.1 km/h 1,600 meters max 6.76 km
-  Finish N38º40.358' E034º50.498' 1,032 meters .
Göreme (Kaya Campsite) N38º38.209' E034º51.264' 1,228 meters .
Finish Kayas Bayindir Dam Campsite (near Ankara) N39º54.985' E032º59.283' 947 meters

344 km

Total Leg 3:

4,307 km

Total Leg 2:

2,153 km

Total Leg 1:

3,018 km

Grand Total:

9,478 km


Weather: Partly cloudy, sunny and very hot.  Cool in the evening/night.  Brief rain shower overnight.



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We have a very early start this morning getting up much early than the sun.  We are off for a dawn balloon flight over the Cappadocia - this should be exciting.  We quickly get ready and are picked up at 5:30 AM by Goreme Balloons to be taken to the launch site.  It is a cold and brisk morning - we come prepared all bundled up.  It takes 15 minutes to get to the launch site and some of the balloons are already being inflated.


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It is an amazing sight - these huge colorful bags slowly taking shape as roaring jets of flames are shot into them as the sky slowly turns from black to a dark blue behind, reveling the silhouettes of the fairy chimneys jutting up from the surrounding area.  As the first balloon starts to take shape, other vehicles are arriving unloading additional balloons.  It looks like the sky will be filled this morning.


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They have put out a table with hot drinks and snacks, so we can enjoy watching them roll out and inflate the other balloons in some comfort.  It is quite an operation.  The huge folded balloon is pulled to one side and then the basket is tipped off the trailer and the gas cylinders attached.  The balloon is connected and then unrolled.  Once that is done, the gas burners are turned on and the roar of the flames and hot air being forced into the balloon is awesome.


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The balloon slowly inflates and takes shape, as a couple of guys hold onto the guy lines and are slowly dragged along the ground as the balloon begins its gradual ascent into the air.


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We are pointed to our balloon and we are pleased to see that it is for our group alone.  We clamber in, some more gracefully than others, over the top edge of the wicker basket and take our places in the four compartments.  The pilot cracks a few valves and the burners roar into action.  We now know why the pilot is not heavily dressed despite the chilly morning air - it feels like we are sitting write under a huge gas grill.  Which I guess we were.


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The balloon slowly lifted into the sky.  It was quite a sensation making the gradual ascent into the sky that is slowly getting brighter with the rising of the sun.  All around us - to the sides, below us and above us - there are balloons.  As we make our ascent, the pilot would operate the gas burners occasionally to reach a given altitude.  When the gas burners were turned off, the silence was fantastic.  We would just drift along in total peace and quiet.  No movement of the air.  It was serene.


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We drifted here and there - depending on the altitude we would change direction and drift here and there.  The pilot was pretty much keeping us in the same area. Our maximum speed was 32.1 kilometers per hour, with an average speed of 5.5 kilometers per hour.  The maximum altitude that we reached was 1,600 meters, about 600 meters above ground level.  At times it seemed like we were much higher than that - but may just be because we were suspended above the ground in a small wicker basket whose sides seemed lower than they felt when we had to clamber over them to get in.


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Our pilot took us for quite a ride.  At times he took us down close to the ground, where we brushed against tree tops and passed closely by some of the huge rock outcroppings that dot the landscape.  It felt like we could just reach out and touch the stone.  It was also amazing watching the birds all around us.  It is not often that you get to see birds soaring below you.  As we passed over one outcropping, we saw a fox that ran across the top and then out of sight behind some rocks.


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We spent almost an hour and a half in the air and then started to make our descent to the ground below.  Our pilot picked a great space to land - in the middle of an orchard with a couple of the rock outcroppings encircling us on one side.  We snuck over the top of the rock face and then down the side, coming to a smooth landing in the orchard.  After a flight of almost 7 kilometers total, we clambered out of the wicker basket and toasted our flight with a glass of champagne - traditions are great things.  We took some photos, enjoyed the moment and then reluctantly gathered up our stuff and headed back to our campsite.


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Once back at the camp, we have a quick breakfast and then load up the truck.  We head of shortly after 9 AM and have a long drive ahead of.  We will try to make it to a campsite near Ankara.  In the morning as we drive, we notice a number of caravanserais dating from the 11th to 13th century on the side of the road.  This is the same route that the silk route traders took.  In those days, there were such caravanserais about every 15 to 20 kilometers where the weary travelers could rest and eat.


Lunch is by the side of the road near a salt lake.  We must also be near an army training ground - we can hear the sound of artillery fire and see the puff of smoke when the rounds hit the ground.  We just hoped that their aim was not too bad.  The it is back on the road.  As we slowly make our way towards Ankara and Istanbul, the roads get better and better and eventually turn into modern highways.


At 5 PM we arrive at our camp ground on the outskirts of Ankara.  We set up camp and then, as we will be arriving in Istanbul tomorrow where our trip will sadly end, spend the time before dinner repacking our bags and gathering up all our belongings that have slowly made their way to every nook and cranny in Josh, the Truck that has been our home for the last couple of months.  All usable, but surplus gear is handed to the drivers.  Old shorts make great truck rags.  Once that is over, we just hang around and shot the breeze.


It is off to bed early - it has been a long day.


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