This is the first of three posts covering jet boating and gondolas in Avanos.
1. Kapadokya Jet Boat & Gondola – Avanos, Cappadocia – The Back Story
2. Adrenaline Rush: Jet Boating in Avanos, Cappadocia
3. A Gondola Ride Through History – Avanos, Cappadocia
It takes vision to create something from nothing. Vision is what Dorak Holding had in 2011 when it opened Kapadokya Jet Boat & Gondola.
In 2011, the Kızıl Irmak (Red River) running through the heart of Avanos, was calling out to be made into something magnificent. With the vision of seeing Avanos become a “Little Venice”, Dorak Holding answered that call.
In August that year the Kızıl Irmak sprang to life as beautiful gondolas were launched into her currents. Soon after, the river showed her sporty side as they lowered the 385 horse power jet boat onto its waters.
General Manager Ahmet Erdil gave me the details of the unique story behind this project. I was surprised to find that Ahmet was not a long-time employee of Dorak Holding, but had joined them just a year ago. He grew up in Ankara and served in the Air Force from 1985 to 2008. After retirement, he was only 41 years old and found himself thinking about a second career. He moved his wife and two kids to Izmir where he bought a boat, became a certified scuba instructor, and opened a dive school that also arranged day trips for divers to explore the underwater beauty of the Aegean Sea. With that kind of background I wondered how he ended up in Avanos on a river. No yachts, no diving, no underwater beauty to speak of here.
Ahmet got a call that his father had taken ill so he decided to move back to Ankara. He sold his boat and business and was planning on working in the plane factory in Ankara when a friend of his told him that there was a need for a boat captain in Cappadocia. Ahmet obliged his friend with a survey trip where he decided this was the place for him. Leaving everything in Izmir he packed his bags and his family and settled here in Cappadocia in August 2011 to open Kapadokya Jet Boat and Gondola.
With the interest generated among tourists and the major investment that has gone into making this venture a success, I wondered where the idea came from. Who had the vision?
Ahmet explained that Dorak Holding first moved into Cappadocia in 2008/2009. They purchased the “Kapadokya Balloon” company and began talking about alternative activities for tourism here in the region. There were several ideas about the river but nothing came to pass.
The assistant manager of the balloon company was friends with two New Zealanders, Will Menzies and Viv Hudson, who live in Ürgüp. Over dinner one night they talked about ways to use the river. The Kiwis suggested jet boating and told the manager they knew a jet boat captain if Dorak Holding wanted to pursue anything. Still, nothing happened.
In 2010, the assistant manager had become manager, and talked with Dorak Holding again about utilizing the river for tourism. This time Dorak Holding’s response was, “quit talking about it and start doing something.” The New Zealanders brought over Paul Vernel, a captain and owner of his own jet boating business in New Zealand, who assessed the situation and said he would be willing to train the drivers. Ground was broken immediately and within a year the boats were in the water!
The whole operation is extremely professional. The facilities are beautiful and modern. Each staff person is friendly and helpful. First class equipment is used, from the life jackets and crash helmets to the radios for emergency communications. The boats themselves are sleek and wonderfully well maintained. The boat captains are all trained in life saving and there is always a rescue boat on the water in case of an accident. It really is a well run organization which results in a very enjoyable and memorable experience.
When you visit Avanos, whether you enjoy the slower pace of life, or are a thrill-seeker, you will find something you like on the Kızıl Irmak, thanks to Kapadokya Jet Boating and Gondola.
What about you? Are you the gondola type or the jet boat type? Will you try a ride when you come?
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