Please, allow my inner mountain enthousiast to be lyrical about some rocks!
Pamukkale is the Turkish word for cotton castle, so I learned from Wikipedia, and it is a world famous hot spring area, with white calcium carbonate (‘travertine’) terraces overlooking a valley. And it is extremely beautiful!
It is just breath-taking and tops every rock formation I have ever seen, and I have roamed through quite some mountains by now.
Misuse during its long history might have stripped the site of part of its unequaled glory, but its much needed promotion to World Heritage Site in 1988 seemed to have saved this geological wonder for future generations.
Off course, the place is crazy touristic. Luckily, the millions of tourists are not allowed directly on the terraces anymore, except for one small spot with a few artificial pools.
Conservation is currently fighting to protect the natural colour and state of the terraces, which they manage by regulating the flooding, in order to prevent both ‘too much’ and ‘not enough’ scenarios. This means that a large part of the pools seems to be empty – unlike on some of the most beautiful pictures on the internet, but hey, conservation goes first!
I have not seen any living plant on this terraces (this beautiful oleander was standing on the top), so the plant ecologist part of me had not much to do, but pure geology can definitely be as exciting.
It is interesting to think about conservation of a non-living system like this, as I am used to think about ecosystem protection. Conserving a rock type brings in its own challenges and opportunities, and the integration of natural values and tourism is as complicated as in all ecological problems.
Let us just wish for a happily ever after for all wonders of the world like this one.