NATURE’S SCULPTURE PARK, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
Our bus arrived in Goreme at around 08:00. Surprisingly the bus went all the way to the village centre, instead of the otogar at Nevsehir. Arriving at Cappadocia in early morning felt like waking up in another world: minimal traffic, occasional herds of sheep, stone houses and cave dwellings. But it was the bizarre rock formations, some of which towering straight up the sky known as fairy chimneys that captured our imagination. The unique rock formations of Cappadocia began 2.6 million years ago when eruption of the ancient volcano Mount Erciyes covered the area (about 20,000 square kilometres) with lava and ash. The ash later solidified into soft rocks exposed to erosion from wind and water. As most of the soft rocks were eroded away, the remaining hard rocks appeared like stone chimneys towering towards the sky.
We checked in at Hotel Elif Star to begin our temporary stay in a cave. The owner Jacky and her cat welcomed us. Jacky pulled out a map and recommended to us a number of hiking trails around the area, and a few lookouts for sunset watching.
In the midst of fairy chimney rock formations, unique valleys and the open air museum, Goreme is the main tourist hub in Cappadocia.
Inhabited since the Hittite era (1800-1200 BC), cave dwellings had been constructed in the era for thousands of years.
Throughout history, cave dwellings and underground structures have been carved out from the volcanic tuff. These rock-cut houses of Cappadocia provided homes and hideouts for people escaping from wars and persecutions from close and afar.
This world famous UNESCO world heritage town receives significant amount of tourists, reaching a record high of 3.8 million in 2019. When we visited in 2006, Goreme still maintained a relatively peaceful ambience.
Souvenir shops lined up the main street of Goreme.
Remnants from the past were still visible on the fairy chimneys in the side streets of Goreme.
Other than cave dwellings, other buildings in Goreme are also constructed with the local stones.
We stayed at Elif Star, one of the many cave hotels in Goreme.
This people-friendly cat approached us during our breakfast time at Elif Star.
Late afternoon offers the best moment to photograph the unique rock formations.
There are several popular spots to watch the sunset in and around Goreme.
Everyday, if weather is fine, tourists should be able to appreciate the scenery of fairy chimneys blanketed in the orange glow.
Around Goreme, there are a number of hiking trails to explore the interesting rock formations.
Even without exploring the surrounding valleys, visitors at Goreme can still get close to the fairy chimneys.
Cappadocia offered one of the best sunset scenery we have ever experienced.
We watched the sunset everyday while we were in Cappadocia.
At night, Goreme returns to its former tranquility after tourists make their way back to their hotels.
ANCIENT REEF AND ESCARPMENT, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Continuing on the accounts of our experiences at parks in Southern Ontario, this time we would write about the Bruce Peninsular National Park. At Bruce Peninsular that separates the Georgian Bay from Lake Huron, Bruce Peninsular National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park are popular among hikers, adventurers, and tourists. From Tobermory at the tip of Bruce Peninsular, regular tour boats take visitors out to Flower Pot Island to appreciate its unique rock formations, and Cove Island for its romantic lighthouse. Adventure seekers also regard the Fathom Five National Marine Park, the area south of Cove Island, as a paradise for shipwreck scuba-diving. Back on the shore of mainland, Tobermory is a hub for all activities in the area. Regular ferry also departs from here to Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world. Near Tobermory, the Bruce Peninsular National Park offers a well maintained natural reserve for nature lovers and hikers who either begin or end the 700km Bruce Trail that connects Tobermory to Niagara.
450 millions years ago during the Silurian era, a shallow warm sea covered a vast area of Northeastern United States and the Province of Ontario in Canada within a depression in the Earth crust known as Michigan Basin. Known as the Niagara Escarpment, the northern edge of Michigan Basin is still visible today. The Niagara Escarpment runs like an arch from the western edge of Lake Michigan up along the southern edge of Manitoulin Island, and from the Bruce Peninsular all the way down to the New York State, cutting through Southern Ontario between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie where the Niagara River makes the famous 50m drop at Niagara Falls. For 700km from Niagara-on-the Lake to Tobermory, the Bruce Trail runs almost in alignment with the Niagara Escarpment. It is the longest and oldest marked hiking trail in Canada. Before hitting its terminus at Tobermory, the trail enters the Bruce Peninsula National Park where we visited twice in 2007 and 2011.
The first time we visited Tobermory, we spent a long time on the beaches at Burnt Point. We were fascinated by the crystal clear water in gradient tones of turquoise. The rocks at the beaches were light grey in colour, and were covered with small holes as if bombarded with rounds of shelling. These unique grey rocks eroded by wave actions and layers of flat stone platforms in the turquoise water were fossil evidences of the prehistoric past at the Bruce Peninsula, when the tropical sea of Michigan Basin was full of marine life and coral reefs. It was hard to imagine that the cool temperate Bruce Peninsular was once a tropical reef similar to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. During our second visit of the park we spent a little more time visiting its unique grotto and stone beaches, and walking its network of hiking trails where from time to time thousand-year old cedar trees and prehistoric reef fossils revealed the ever-changing natural landscape of our planet.
In Tobermory, boat tour is popular from May to October. Most boats depart from the Little Tub Harbour, where a cluster of bars and restaurants gather to serve the tourists.
The Big Tub Lighthouse was declared a recognized heritage building since the early 1990s. A major restoration to the the Big Tub Lighthouse was made in 1987 after a fierce winter storm washed away its shingle sidings and part of the foundation.
Near the Visitor Centre, there is a 20m tower structure which gives visitors a bird’s eye view of the park.
Beyond the furthest point of the loop trail lies the beaches of Burnt Point.
At Burnt Point, the turquoise water was beautiful especially under the warm sun. The light grey rocks were quite comfortable to sit on, which make a perfect spot for a short break after the hike.
At Burnt Point, the water was so clean that the flat rock platforms under water could be seen clearly from above. When the wind brew over the peaceful bay, the rippled image of the rocks produced a poetic Impressionist painting on the water surface.
At Burnt Point, a large rock revealed its unique perforated surface above water.
At Burnt Point, the soft-looking moss on rocks was actually very hard and rough.
The orange moss added a little accent colour to the grayish-white rock at Burnt Point.
At Burnt Point, erosion on the rock revealed interesting patterns.
“Someone was here” – A visitor built an Inukshuk structure to mark his/her presence at Tobermory.
Indian Head Cove Beach (background). Many visitors love to explore the Grotto near the beach. The Grotto (foreground) can be reached on foot from the beach but it requires some simple rock climbing skills.
Swimmer who chose to different route to enter the Grotto.
The entrance to the Grotto (foreground) and Indian Head Cove Beach (background). Visitors have to climb down from the cliff top to reach the Grotto on foot. It isn’t an easy direct route but it still attract many visitors. Swimming from the Indian Head Cove Beach is another popular option to access the Grotto if the water is warm enough for a comfortable swim.
Approaching the Grotto. There were many visitors gathered around the entrance into the Grotto.
Inside the Grotto lies a pool of glowing turquoise water. There is an opening through the rocks in the water that leads to the lake beyond.
A view from the Grotto looking out.
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Read other posts on Parks of Southern Ontario
1.1 Land of Water and Forest, Algonquin Park, Ontario ( 1 of 3)
1.2 A Tale of Rocks and Maples, Algonquin, Ontario ( 2 of 3)
1.3 When Moose Meets Beaver, Algonquin, Ontario, (3/3)
2. Ancient Reef and Escarpment, Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
3. Algonquin Legend and Mazinaw Pictographs, Bon Echo Provincial Park, Ontario