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Facing my Fears – Hot Air Ballooning in Costa Brava, Spain

I’m not a huge fan of heights & when I was given the chance to face my fears while hot air ballooning in Costa Brava, Spain, I was a little apprehensive.

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Hot Air Ballooning in Costa Brava Spain

“Everyone holding on tight?”

“Brace! Brace! Brace!”

Not really the words I wanted to be coming out of our hot air balloon pilots mouth as we descended towards earth.

Hot Air Ballooning in Costa Brava Spain

Even though I have always wanted to go hot air ballooning, I have not pushed it. You see, while Adela is not a fan of being underground, I hate being above ground. High above ground that is.

I don’t do heights very well.

So how did I find myself on a crystal clear summer morning above the stunning Costa Brava coastline? Being told to “brace” as we descended towards a tiny clearing between trees and cornfields?

Hot Air Ballooning in Costa Brava, Spain

Rising before dawn is usually not a problem for me. I love sunrises. Even being told we have an awesome travel adventure high up in the sky doesn’t faze me this early.

Hot Air Ballooning in Costa Brava Spain

It is not until we are actually watching the balloons be filled with scorching flames that I begin to worry a little bit. How is a little bit of hot air meant to hold 10 full-grown adults up 1,000 meters in the sky? Not to mention 10 adults that have been gorging themselves silly on food and drink for the past week.

Climbing into what can only be described as a fruit basket for humans, I begin snapping away with my camera to avoid looking anyone else in the eyes in case they see my fear.

Hot Air Ballooning in Costa Brava Spain

Pulling my eye from the viewfinder I quickly realise we have already drifted several hundred meters above the ground. I was so pre-occupied that I didn’t even notice how gently we had taken off.

Maybe it has something to do with the sunrise peaking its blazing head above the Costa Brava skyline. Or the tight space we have managed to all squeeze ourselves into. Or maybe it is the extreme stillness and quiet between bursts of flame.

I realise it is not that bad up here. I am even breathing normally and able to look over the edge of the basket.

Hot Air Ballooning in Costa Brava Spain

Okay, maybe not such a good idea.

But I am able to gaze into the distance towards the Pyrenees and across the stunning Costa Brava landscape. Farmland and Medieval towns drift silently below our feet. People go about their daily lives without even realising we are drifting above them.

Hot Air Ballooning in Costa Brava Spain

In fact, it is not until we are starting to descend that the irrational fear begins to take hold again.

Our Spanish speaking pilot is gesticulating to our guide and interrupter that we are all meant to be doing something important. They both give nervous laughs before falling silent again.

Okay now would be the perfect opportunity to have finally learnt a second language like I promised myself at the beginning of the year.

Turns out that since we basically have no steering ability we are at the winds mercy. And with the coastline rapidly approaching it is time to take this contraption down to earth.

“Brace! Brace! Brace!”

Eyeing up the only clear patch of earth within a mile, our pilot is all business. The trees and houses that looked like miniature toys just a moment ago suddenly loom large directly in front of us.

Hot Air Ballooning in Costa Brava Spain

Instead of gently floating down in replication of our takeoff, we are drifting along quite quickly thanks to the wind picking up speed in the last 10 minutes.

My knuckles turn white as we brace our knees and back against the flimsy wicker basket.

And even though the command to brace is just a pre-caution, we still manage to bounce hard 3 times before settling down. A laugh escapes my lips as the tension eases from my muscles. And from the looks on the others faces, I am not the only one to be relieved we are back on solid earth again.

I had done it. I had conquered my fear.

Hot Air Ballooning in Costa Brava Spain

And if I ever get the chance to go hot air ballooning ever again, then I would jump at the chance.

I want to give a huge thanks to our incredibly talented pilot from Globus Costa Brava for taking me on a ride that will be forever remembered. And of course the extremely wonderful team at Costa Brava tourism board for helping me face my fears by organising the hot air ballooning in Costa Brava, Spain.

This is a post from a series called Facing my Fears. It helps us to step outside our comfort zone, in comfort. Check out the rest of the series here.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Costa Brava tourism board, but as always our fears, stories and photos are all our own.

Do you have a fear of heights or another phobia? How did you face your fears?

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68 Comments

68 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    October 1, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    What an amazing experience. I’ve had a fascination with hot air balloons since I was a child. My husband and I were even married in one (though we never got our ride because of high winds). It’s been 10 1/2 years that we’ve been married and we’ve still not been on a balloon ride together.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 1, 2012 at 9:05 PM

      Did you get married on the ground but just in the basket? Cool idea, but gutted you couldn’t fly!

      • Jennifer

        October 2, 2012 at 12:33 PM

        Yes, the ceremony was us in the basket on the ground with our family watching. We were supposed to take off as soon as we were pronounced husband and wife, but the wind was so strong that day, they couldn’t even inflate the balloon for pictures.

  2. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    October 1, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    I, too, have a stubborn fear of heights (fear of falling, really) which must be overcome now and again–including the time we had the chance to go hot air ballooning in Page, Arizona. I totally agree that the ascent (peaceful, almost dreamy) and the actual ballooning at altitude were no problem. I actually found the silence and the smoothness and being at the whim of the breeze sort of addicting. Landing, as you now know, is another story altogether! Here’s to doing it anyway!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 1, 2012 at 9:05 PM

      I thought we would just come down smoothly but should have realised that doesn’t happen haha.

  3. Laurence

    October 1, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Vera and I wondered if ballooning was a bad idea with a fear of heights but we braved it and have to agree, what a spectacular thing it was. Love the idea of a fruit basket for humans too 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 1, 2012 at 9:07 PM

      I was surprised at how easy it was to do with my fear. I think it was because we couldn’t see through the floor?!

      • Laurence

        October 4, 2012 at 7:04 PM

        Being able to see through the floor would have made it a slightly different experience 😀

        • Cole Burmester

          October 5, 2012 at 9:02 AM

          I bet there are some balloons that allow you to do that. Won’t see me in them…

  4. Leyla Giray

    October 1, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    Well done, Cole! It’s not easy to do something like that when you’re scared. I hate heights – I probably would have been dangling on the outside of the basket trying to jump back down. I can manage the odd mountain walk, but mountains are at least stuck to the ground. You do make it seem a little less scary… but brace brace?? Maybe next year 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 1, 2012 at 9:10 PM

      Thanks Leyla. Don’t be afraid of it because of my writing! It truly is very safe and the “bracing” is just a pre-caution. I am sure you would love it.

  5. Vera

    October 1, 2012 at 6:01 PM

    Oh man, awesome post -I also didn’t even know you weren’t good with heights! And by the way, it’s not the hot air that makes balloning possible… It’s MAGIC;)!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 1, 2012 at 9:10 PM

      Cheers Vera. Was a pleasure sharing it with you guys! I knew there was something else holding us up 🙂

  6. Christina

    October 1, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    Was it scary?! I always see hot air balloons but don’t know if I would like the feeling as I hate rollercoasters and such!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 2, 2012 at 11:40 AM

      Wasn’t scary at all actually Christina! And not at all like a roller coaster. It is really gentle and you hardly even feel like you are moving. Definitely try it once 🙂

  7. Ines

    October 2, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    Your pics are beautiful! I want to do the same with my husband but he doesn’t do heights very well neither. I will share this with him and hopefully we will find a great place to go hot air ballooning soon!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 2, 2012 at 11:41 AM

      Go to Costa Brava and do it 🙂 Beautiful countryside and amazing food afterwards which they provide! Not scary at all, and I am a huge scaredy-cat when it comes to heights.

  8. Amanda

    October 2, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    Well congrats for facing your fear! Hopefully the views and experience were worth the moments of being afraid! It looks gorgeous.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 2, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      It was surprising that I was way less afraid than I thought I would be. Totally worth it and can recommend it to everyone!

  9. Jarmo @ Arctic Nomad

    October 3, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    Awesome views! That’s something I still definitely want to experience 🙂 Looks so much fun, and good on you for doing it despite your fear of heights mate!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 4, 2012 at 5:03 PM

      I was really surprised I didn’t find it scarier. And well worth being a little bit afraid for!

  10. globusemporda

    October 3, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    Thanks for all your comments!!! For us it was a pleaser to fly with you!!!!

    See you another time, and i hope…a 1000m!!

    Joan (globus Empordà)

    • Cole Burmester

      October 3, 2012 at 5:19 PM

      Thanks Joan! I had such fun on the trip and definitely will recommend it to everyone 🙂

  11. D.J. - The World of Deej

    October 4, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Congrats on conquering the fear. I really need to do this. I see hot air balloons in Orlando all the time and keep saying I should. Perhaps it is time…

    • Cole Burmester

      October 4, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      If there are lots in Orlando then I am sure you could approach a few about a sponsored trip… 🙂

  12. Peter Lee

    October 4, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    I always wanted to go on a hot air balloon, but I’m not going to lie, I will probably have the fears before I step into the basket. I always wonder how they know where they’ll come down — and how they coordinate the pick-up!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 4, 2012 at 5:11 PM

      They were constantly on their radios telling the pickup guys where they were “hoping” to land. Unfortunately they have very little control apart from going up or down! But totally safe 🙂

  13. Cathy Sweeney

    October 4, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    Yay! You did it! Thanks for the encouragement to try hot air ballooning sometime. Like you, I’ve been afraid of the whole idea — way up there in a little basket, etc. But you’ve given me courage. Next time, I’m going to do it! Maybe.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 5, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      Definitely do it Cathy! I can highly recommend it to anyone and the peacefulness of the whole experience will leave you breathless from excitement (not fear) 🙂

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  15. Julie Sheridan

    October 5, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    God this looks amazing. What an experience. I LOVED the Costa Brava and am now pencilling this in for my next trip up there.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 5, 2012 at 6:04 PM

      Make sure you do. Such a peaceful and fantastic adventure! You obviously don’t mind the heights!

  16. Natalie - Turkish Travel Blog

    October 5, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    I am going back to Cappadocia in December and hope to combat my fears so I can do a balloon trip there. Nerve wracking just thinking about it!!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 5, 2012 at 6:06 PM

      We would love to go to Cappadocia and try it there too. Maybe we will head there next year. Let us know how you get on Natalie 🙂

  17. Tim @ Marginal Boundaries

    October 5, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    Always been a bit peckish about heights. Still need to try a hot air balloon ride. Talk about spectacular views here!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 6, 2012 at 9:07 AM

      It was why I was so scared to try it Tim, but was surprisingly calm. I can’t stand being able to see between my feet through glass elevators and grates etc. So very glad the basket was woven tightly 😉 Also the views were distracting!

  18. Jade - OurOyster.com

    October 8, 2012 at 2:17 AM

    Good on you for facing your fears!! I don’t know if I would willingly put myself in a hot air balloon – but I might do it if it was part of a press trip or something – I tend to need a bit of peer pressure to go outside my comfort zone

    • Cole Burmester

      October 8, 2012 at 9:06 AM

      We love stepping outside our comfort zone… most of the time haha. The hot air balloon was actually really easy to do once I realised we were already off the ground. Just keep snapping photos and you will be fine 😉

  19. Joy

    October 8, 2012 at 5:57 AM

    That looks amazing! What a place to face your fear! I once faced my fear of heights dangling from 300+ feet in the air at a theme park in Orlando, FL. At the time I was working on a TV stunt show and agreed to test this stunt. I have no idea what I was thinking. At the time I guess I was easily influenced by peer pressure. I was practically in tears the entire time but I did it! I still have a fear of heights but I try not to let it hold me back.

    Just found your blog by the way. Love it. I think you guys are quite witty! 🙂 I love the name and can’t wait to read more.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 8, 2012 at 9:07 AM

      I am having heart palpitations just thinking of the giant drop ride at the theme park near Barcelona! So scary and high up!

      Thanks for dropping by Joy and commenting 😉

  20. Linda McCormick

    October 8, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Good on ya!
    I’ve often thought about doing a hot air balloon ride – what is it that’s so enticing about them, even for us vertigo sufferers – but can’t quite bring myself to do it.
    After reading this though… I just might. Maybe 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      October 8, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      Just stick your eyeballs up to your camera and take lots of photos until it is too late! That’s what I did and seemed to work haha.

  21. Addison S. @ Visa Hunter

    October 9, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Congratulations, Cole, the pictures tell what I am sure was an incredible flight. Overcoming fears when traveling is such a rewarding experience and often puts many things in perspective. A hot air balloon ride has to be up there alongside a helicopter flight on every traveler’s bucket list.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 9, 2012 at 8:25 PM

      Oh man I really want to try a helicopter ride! Haven’t had the chance yet.

  22. crazy sexy fun traveler

    October 9, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Funny post! I was imagining all of you there after the brace command 🙂 I would love to do hot air balloon. It is one of the very few things I have not done in the air yet 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 9, 2012 at 8:25 PM

      Need to head back to Costa Brava to try it out then 😉

  23. Mellisa Turner

    October 10, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Gosh, that’s such an adrenalin rush! Though I don’t fear eights, I have this silly notion about hot air ballooning. No matter how much imagination and scientific calculations I put in, I really can’t assure myself that a basket can really hold me. The fear of falling mid air doesn’t let me enjoy this
    fun. Perhaps next time I’ll be brave enough.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 11, 2012 at 4:51 PM

      I hope you will be brave enough next time too Mellisa! Such a beautiful experience.

  24. Abby

    October 10, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    Amazing! I’ve sky-dived, love roller coasters, blah blah. But was TERRIFIED hot air ballooning. I signed up so excited, and once we got up there, I was a mess until landing. I didn’t think the basket was high enough to prevent me from falling out lol. So congrats on beating that fear!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 11, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      I haven’t sky dived (pulled out at the last minute) but DO love roller coasters! I am not sure why I didn’t find it as scary as I thought it would be. I think I was too distracted by all the views 🙂

  25. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    October 12, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    Really like that last photo. Never done a hot air balloon ride.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 12, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      You have to try it Stephanie. Definitely one of the highlights of my travels so far.

  26. sanjeewa padmal travel blogger

    October 12, 2012 at 2:27 AM

    Hot air ballooning is a great. Simply because the bird eye view that you can get.

  27. Laurie

    October 13, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    After reading you post I’m going to try it. I have issues like this. Cannot belive how good your pictures are. WELL DONE

    • Cole Burmester

      October 14, 2012 at 11:20 AM

      It is a beautiful experience to go on Laurie. You will love it!

  28. Lorenzo Gonzalez

    October 17, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    I also don’t do well with heights but I’m a strong believer of facing your fears. Glad you got over it and were able to share this story.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 17, 2012 at 8:18 AM

      Looks like we think the same Lorenzo 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!

  29. vira

    October 25, 2012 at 12:27 AM

    omygod,that looks a lotta fun! I’ve been wanting to go on a hot air balloon but haven’t had the chance to do it. I was supposed to go when I was in Vang Vieng but then a storm hit the town so they had to cancel the ride 🙁
    I also have a fear of height, but it’s more when I have to ‘fall’ from such height, so I couldn’t get myself to jump down to water from a few meters cliff, I haven’t succeeded to overcome my fear 🙁
    Good for you for overcoming your fear! It must have been hard! 😀

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 9:32 AM

      Thanks Vira 🙂 I don’t think I have conquered my fear of heights just yet, but slowly getting there! Hope you get to go hot air ballooning soon!

  30. Jessica

    October 28, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    The photo looking over the edge made me nervous and it was just a picture! Congrats on facing your fears, looks like it was worth it!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 9:55 AM

      I still get a little scared when I look at that picture Jessica and I was up there! It is funny, when I was looking through the lens I didn’t have a problem with the height. When I look back now it scared me!

  31. Agness (@Agnesstramp)

    November 1, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Well done guys! I don’t do heights very well either, so I understand your fear. This is why I love to travel so much- to overcome my fears and learn something more about yourself. The view from the balloon’s stunning. How much guys did you buy for the flight? (if I might ask). Always wondering how much it could cost 😉 and how long it lasts.

    • Cole Burmester

      November 2, 2012 at 8:47 AM

      We were in the air for just over an hour I think. But they also provide breakfast and Cava (Spanish champagne) after the flight, so all up it is more like a 2-3 hour experience. It costs roughly $160 if I remember rightly. Check out the Globus Emporda site 😉

  32. Julie Dawn Fox

    November 2, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    Perfect timing – I’m hoping to go hot air ballooning next weekend in Portugal. I’ll be leaving my husband firmly on the ground though as his fear of heights is too strong for this kind of fun!

    • Cole Burmester

      November 2, 2012 at 4:58 PM

      Show him this post and it might settle his nerves Julie! 🙂

  33. Alexandra

    December 7, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    when I went hot air ballooning in Turkey I was surprised by how quiet it was and how oddly enough you didn’t feel that high even though you really were. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

    • Cole Burmester

      December 11, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      I didn’t even realise how high we were because I hardly stopped taking photos haha. When I did I had a little freak out but got over it quickly because it was so beautiful!

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Adventure Travel

WHY WE LOVE TRAVELLING IN ANTIPOLO (AND YOU SHOULD, TOO)

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Antipolo is one of the seven most popular cities in Philippines which is located in the province of Rizal. The city of Antipolo is famous for being a pilgrimage site and is popularly known as the “pilgrimage site of Philippines”. Being the heritage city of the country Antipolo holds many beautiful and amazing places where you can explore your travel buds. The main and the enshrined attraction of the place is the marine image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage present in the Antipolo museum which was brought from Mexico during the year 1626.

There are many beautiful and extravagant places present in the beautiful city of the Antipolo where one can easily find peace and can explore the beauty of Philippines, the Antipolo style.  The city consists of many historic and natural sites which will blow your mind off and are worth visiting. We have some tourist attractions in Antipolo where you can go exploring with your friends or family or even alone.

Antipolo Cathedral: – Being the most historic and antique church present in the city the Antipolo church is widely famous for its renowned icon, the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. The church is located in the proper town and every year on the month of May Antipolo becomes the centre of attraction for many of the visitors and tourists who travel from faraway lands and locals in order to pay homage to the Our Lady.

Boso Boso church: – This church is mostly a remnant of a centuries old church which was destroyed during the Second World War. This beautiful remnant of the church belongs to the Spanish era that dominated the country of Philippines that for more than 300 years. It was constructed in the year 1700 under the Jesuits. After getting destroyed by earthquake in 1800, the church was abandoned in the 1930 and got into a fire scandal in the year 1945; it got restored back by the government in the year 1995. If you are a great lover of history and past things this place might fascinate you.

Hinulugang Taktak: – The name of the place means “where the bell was dropped”, is a waterfall that was designated by the government of Philippines as a national park. The mesmerizing waterfall got its interesting name due to a turn of event down the history. The priest of the nearby church on the demand of the town people had thrown the church bell into the river as it was causing unwanted sound in the town every time it rang during the Angelus.

Mystical Cave: – The cave is named as mystical because one can see the several religious images that appear inside the cave. Mostly the images are in stalactite and stalagmite formations that mainly resembles religious Gods. The cave consists of two floors but the visitors are allowed to explore the first one without permission.

Pinto Art Museum: – If you adore art and paintings and want to connect with the Antipolo’s culture then this art museum is an amazing chance you to get connected with the locals. The museum mainly displays the art, sculptures and paintings of the local artist bringing out the cultural background of the place.

Not only have these amazing historic places given you a clear image of the Antipolo’s beauty and history but there is a little more than just places that you will find fascinating. As the city of Antipolo is situated in a higher elevation than the Metro Manila, it gives you a breathtaking view of the metropolis at night, which is a sight to behold in the ancient city. In order to stay in the city you can easily find vacation home in Antipolo Philippines where you can stay and enjoy of your own.

Not only just places the city of Antipolo provides you exquisite food choices to make your taste buds go bananas or you can have fresh locally grown mangoes and cashews. The most famous dish in the city is the Suman, which is normally a local delicacy that is made from glutinous rice.

Antipolo is a breathtaking place hidden in the depth of Philippines with a mesmerizing history and culture. It will not only make you fall in love with itself but also will make your eyes reach with beauty.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Top of Cappadocia day trek with Middle Earth Travel

Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Adventure Travel

Tibet Cycling: The Complete Guide to Lhasa to Ganden Monastery Cycling Tour

Tibet Cycling: The Complete Guide to Lhasa to Ganden Monastery Cycling Tour

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Tibet appeals to travellers in many ways. The first and most important thing is the beautiful natural scenery. However, Tibet is a bit different from the other scenic spots. There is a charm to this place, which is not found anywhere. Travellers have a mind which wanders and loves to explore new things. They can get this experience for their Tibet travel as the various associated activities can completely thrill them. From photography to trekking and cycling, the options never seem to end.

Almost everyone is well acquainted with the various joys of cycling in Tibet, the atmosphere is absolutely perfect. Tourists can pass through several spots and they can enjoy every bit of this beautiful natural land. Cycling happens on various routes and these routes have to be understood thoroughly. In this article, we will discuss about the cycling tour to Ganden Monastery from Lhasa and provide you every detail that you need.

Why travel to Ganden Monastery?

Tibetan Buddhism has a unique appeal which calms the soul of all wanderers. They are struck by wanderlust and the monasteries in Tibet, offer them something to cherish about forever. For those who love religious places, Tibet has plenty of offerings. The monasteries, the temples and the rituals, Tibet’s heritage have always echoed through the ages.  This brings us to Ganden Monastery, which is truly a magical place. It is an absolute wonder in front of the eyes and the viewers are left completely captivated. This was the very first monastery, which laid the foundation of Tibetan Buddhism. The vast expanse of land on Tibet’s western site is absolutely heavenly. Emperor Yongzheng who was from Qing Dynasty gave a very special name to this monastery and called it “Yong Tai”. Situated at a height of 3,800m from the sea’s level, the elevation is majestic. Lagyi Hall, Angyiukang, Yangbagyain Hall are the major construction in this monastery.

Located 47Km away from the capital city of Lhasa, this monastery witnesses a huge influx of people every year. This is an important structure as far as Tibet’s cultural heritage is conserved and it is preserved for this reason. The cultural and artistic significance is terrific and Ganden will always be the centre of Tibet’s attraction. It joins the famous Sera Monastery in a unique list, which also features Drepung Monastery. These three temples are considered “great” and the visitors value them greatly. Tibetan Buddhism features many activities and some of them are grand and marvellous. Once in a year, a giant picture of Buddha is unfolded and it easily attracts disciples from all parts of the country. Cycling to this monastery can provide a great experience, but you must follow the basic guidelines. Once these points are followed, your trip will not only be great, it will be perfect.

Highlights of the amazing cycling tour from Lhasa to Ganden Monastery

Cyclists are of different types and they begin their journey, by having different trips in their minds. We have introduced trips of various lengths and they are tailor-made for each type of traveller. Some people can opt for the short and customized tour, while, others can choose the longer version. The distance from Tibet’s Lhasa to this amazing monastery can vary slightly, depending on the route taken. Cyclists have to travel 60Km to reach their destination and not much difficulty is faced in the process.  Don’t forget to be in a relaxed mood, as you take this trip. Lhasa is a great spot to be in the right frame of mind and two days can be easily spent here.  The famous trip begins from Lhasa River and cyclists go upstream.  Picturesque villages and some amazing farmlands fall between that and they are just perfect. Reaching Ganden is easy and once you reach here, your soul will be touched by a positive vibe. The environment is filled with peacefulness and everything seems perfect here. One night can be spent here to soak in the feeling. The return journey can start next day and Chubuxi village falls in the route. Tibet is all about the unique lifestyle of the locals and this is something you can’t afford to miss.  From Chubuxi, the trekking trip to Samye commences.

The most classic 6 days Lhasa and Ganden Monastery Bike tour, you will enjoy the cycling joy and Tibet wonderful natural landscape and Tibetan monasteries architecture. Most tourists can complete this short ride after relaxing yourself in Lhasa for two days. The ride route begains upstream along the Lhasa River, and you will pass some farmlands and small villages. Then arrive in Gandan monastery, one of six Gelug sect monasteries, and worship this famous monastery. Then you are expected to spend a night at Gandan monastery to experience the peaceful environment. Next day, you will head back to Lhasa, and visit Chubuxi village at the foot of Gandan monastery. On the way you can experience the daily life of local people. Moreover, Chubuxi village is the starting point of Ganden to Samye trek. Finally we move back to Lhasa and the ride ends.

Tackling the changing altitude on the way to Ganden Monastery

The altitude in Lhasa is about 3600m, and that of Ganden Monastery is 3800m. There is no strict change of altitude, so it’s relatively easy for travellers who want to try short cycling in Tibet.  Cycling is a strenuous activity and it can take a toll on your health. That being said, cycling in the rough terrains of Tibet is even more challenging. Ganden is situated high above the normal sea level and this steep rise can often weaken cyclists. The high altitude woes will continue, if proper precaution is not taken. Carrying additional oxygen cylinders is a must and this should be done in advance. The temperature changes greatly and travellers should also be aware of this. However, if you choose us for this trip, everything becomes easier. The freezing months can pose a far bigger threat and that should be avoided at all costs.

The perfect time to take Lhasa – Ganden Monastery cycle tour

Tibet embraces every season fabulously, though the conditions are not favourable every time. Travellers and especially cyclists must understand the timing absolutely well. If the activity is done in a pleasant month instead of the harsh winter, the fun can increase manifold. The best time for cycling is from May to October because good weather and temparature. The other months can be targeted as well, but the safety issues become important in the hilly roads.

Getting the Tibet Travel Permit – How can we help?

Exploring Tibet is a fun activity, but Tibet travel permits matter greatly. Foreign travellers must fulfil the necessary travel guidelines to get in this region and we can help you from all sides. We make the process easier, by getting you the right documents at the right time.

What to pack for this cycle tour? – Bicycle Rent and Other Tips

Taking the most essential things can do the job here. The all-important ID card and travel permit is absolutely essential and it gets the first priority. Take a medium-sized backpack to put in your things and pack it with the right kind of warm clothes. Waist packs also come in handy, as they store many important things. This is a place where you will see high elevation, so oxygen should be there in abundance. Avoid getting sunburn by taking a good sun-screen cream or lotion and lastly don’t miss out on the medicines. Helmets and other cycling wear can be taken, as it is very essential. The bicycle can be rented easily and it is supplied by the tour operator itself. An important trip in this aspect would be to prepare for the changing weather. It can stay sunny or it can rain, so plan accordingly.

The challenges in Tibet are quite tough, but it will gift you an experience, which you will not forget in a long time. Cycling here is precious and it is an important aspect that strengthens Tibet’s tourism.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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