It all kind of came together by chance. I hadn’t planned on doing a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia, but when presented the opportunity I was powerless to say no.
I was picked up from where I was staying before sunrise. The company I went with, Turkiye Balloons, fashions themselves as the most professional of the numerous balloon companies in the area. I am powerless to disagree. They served a nice breakfast before departure as they know a balloon ride isn’t as mesmerizing on an empty stomach. The ending of the balloon ride was amazing as well, but one thing at a time…
I ate breakfast while hearing some safety instructions and then we set off to the balloon. The departure point changes every day as wind speed and direction needs to be taken into account. They position the balloon in the best place possible to drift over as much of Capadoccia as possible.
When we arrived at the balloon it was fascinating to see how they get it up. They set up the tanks and the flame sideways. The bottom hole of the balloon is opened and a fan is used to push as much of the heat from the flame into the balloon as possible. It’s not a rushed procedure. It takes time and slowly the balloon inflates sideways, glowing against the dark horizon. Eventually enough warm air is inside that it willingly lifts up and tips upright. Final tests are done and passengers are loaded in the small sections cut out of the basket for passengers. Then it’s time for liftoff…
After liftoff it’s incredible quiet. The only noise you hear is from the fellow passengers, the flame when it’s turned on, and the radio communication with the ground crew. The ground crew tracks the progress of the flight and notifies the pilot of any potential problems (such as a balloon directly above or below us, something hard to see from the pilot’s position, and of course coordinating the landing.
It’s truly something else to glide through the air. Seeing the incredible rock formations below is a bonus. But the act of floating, feeling weightless, it’s a magical experience regardless of how early you had to get up in the morning!
You can hot air balloon over many places, but Cappadocia must be seen from the air to fully appreciate its serenity. A company formed by pilots instead of businessmen, Turkiye Balloons offers standard and custom flights to take in the surroundings. Their professionalism is unmatched in this touristy town, offering patrons a complimentary buffet breakfast before the flight and champagne upon landing. Flights start at 140 Euros ($193) per person for this once in a lifetime experience. Departing at sunrise, the calmness of floating over one of the planet’s most interesting geological formations will leave you breathless.
Once it’s time for landing, the crew coordinates with the pilot on where they’ll be and lots of last minute adjustments happen. It wasn’t particularly windy the day I went so the pilot was able to land the basket of the balloon in its carrying compartment on the back of the truck. It was incredible! Then ropes are used to safely collapse the balloon and put everything away. See the video below for the landing.
While the balloon is landing, the crew sets up a table and pours champagne. Legend has it that the first hot air balloon ride ended in this way, with the pioneers having a sip of bubbly, so it’s only customary to follow in their successful footsteps. The pilot presented us with awards for having completed the one hour flight and we were driven back to where we were staying.
Although prices around the world for hot air ballooning can be steep, it’s one of those once in a lifetime experiences you should have if you can. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the experience as much as I did. I hope you enjoyed hearing about it 🙂