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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?

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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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) 🙂

  14. 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!

  15. 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 🙂

  16. 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!

  17. 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 😉

  18. 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 😉

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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 😉

  22. 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.

  23. 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 🙂

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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!

  29. 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!

  30. 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 😉

  31. 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! 🙂

  32. 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

Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.

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Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

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Adventure Travel

Hammock vs Tent Camping

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Camping with a hammock is slowly but surely becoming more popular in recent years with new and improved hammock designs being preferred by some campers, compared to the traditional tent.

In this article we will discuss some of the key benefits and drawbacks of sleeping without a tent, and analyze key criteria so that you can choose your preferred shelter choice!

Weatherproof

Most tents work well in the rain; however, you’ll need to bring a tarp if you’re using a hammock. Traditional hammocks are not waterproof, and are generally open at the top, allowing water to find itself inside if you don’t have an adequate tarp. Moreover, a decent under quilt is also a good idea so that you can stay warm and cozy during cold and stormy nights.

Packing up your hammock after a long night of rain isn’t too bad, whereas packing up a soaking wet tent is always annoying. You almost always get wet in the process.

Setup

For first time campers, pop-up tents are the simplest to setup. All you need to do is find flat ground, and bam, your setup is complete! The beauty of pop-up tents is that you don’t need to worry about figuring out where to insert the poles and erect the tent. Although, traditional tents are usually more robust, and have a longer life span.

Essentially, a tent is simple, but a hammock can become a little more complicated for first timers. You’ll need to find 2 trees facing a good direction and tie each end of the hammock to them. If your hammock setup is too tight, you will generally wake up with sore ancles, but if it’s too loose, you run the risk of the hammock touching the floor, and insects crawling in with you.

If your campground doesn’t have many trees, or if the trees are dead (they could break and injure you), hammock stands come to the rescue! Basically, hammock stands allow you to pitch a hammock if there are no trees nearby. They are portable, adjustable, and are easy to setup. The only drawback is that the ground should be relatively flat, whereas if you were to hang a hammock between 2 trees, there won’t be any stands touching the ground, so a rocky floor wouldn’t be a problem.

Comfort

One of the main reasons for choosing a hammock is the comfort that it provides you! It has a basically has in-built seat which is arguably more comfortable than a standard blow up mattress. You need to pick your tree’s wisely though! You don’t want a pinecone falling on your face mid-sleep.

If you have constant back pain and find it hard to sleep inside tents, you should give hammocks a try as they cause you to sleep sideways, similar to a banana shape, which a lot people find much more comfortable.

Price

Hammocks are usually lighter and don’t include a wealth of poles and gear that tents do. Depending on the type of hammock that you purchase, they are usually quite similar to tents. You can however, find very cheap tents <$60, but they most likely won’t last long.

A good tent or hammock can cost between $200-500 without accessories. If you need a hammock stand, that will add to your cost, just like a mattress and other tent necessities will to its cost.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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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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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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