Cappadocia is a pretty amazing place. You’ll hear it described as a Martian landscape (as if we really know – even with the Mars Landing and all going on) or even a Lunar landscape … from pictures I’ve seen, it’s not too far from that. The rocks are weird, they have been whittled into strange shapes, the pigeon hole caverns dot the landscape and contrast of colours in the sand do make for something out of a science fiction novel.
The panoramas are spectacular and when the lighting is perfect, it’s another place where it’s impossible to take a bad shot (with the right equipment – however even an iPhone will work here).
So the next way to see all this beauty would be to take one of those hot air balloon rides.
You can imagine yourself floating gently into the air, rising higher and higher as the sun rises over Cappadocia. You envision thoughts of peace, tranquility and soft whispers, as no one would dare speak loudly and disturb the peace of the morning. The only sound would be the lovely clicking of shutters as everyone tried to grasp all the beauty.
This is how it should have been.
Well this is how it really was … in the beginning …
– 4am : Wakeup call.
– 4:15am : Cusses the world, stumbles out bed. Cusses balloons. Cusses D*. Cusses the world again (Note: We had flown in from Marmaris only 14 hours earlier and we we’re running on 8 hours sleep across the previous three days)
– 4:30 am : The balloon shuttle arrives. Thoughts running through the brain include eating a “Coffee Crisp”, TV static, homicidal rage, Family Guy and whether someone bounces off the ground, if they fell from a balloon at 1000 M high
– 5:15am : Now rage settles in for full blast mode, when I see that there are about 200 people at the Goreme “flight center” which includes the ubiquitous Japanese tour group. (Being around a tour group is disgusting enough, but being around a Japanese or Chinese tour group is just the fucking worst … I’ve said and I’ll say it again … those tour groups are the fucking worst to be around – I love the cultures, but they suck as tourists)
– 5:32am : We see the balloons. Rage disappears … instant excitement enters brain.
As we all got into the balloon (There were 15 of us in the balloon), there was a palpable sense of excitement. It’s one thing to go balloon riding over some field, it’s a completely different proposition while floating over Cappadocia. You’re greeted with the forest of balloons all prepping for their flights.
Then you’re off … from this point onwards … no words necessary as the pictures speak for themselves. Hot air balloons and fairy chimneys make for an epic combination.
Then you realize that everything you were looking for from the experience is right there … thoughts of peace, tranquility, soft whispers, and the clicks of a million cameras and minds in the silence.
How to ride a hot air balloon in Cappadochia?
This is probably the easiest excursion adventure to organize as there are many balloon companies in Göreme. As you walk around town, you’ll see many “flight centers” for the balloon companies. We arranged our balloon ride through our hotel Yunak Evlveri and ended up going with Göreme Balloons. There are numerous hot air ballooning companies operating in the region and you can do your research on licensing and credentials, but this is Turkey – it won’t really matter anyway. Accidents have happened but these can happen anywhere … don’t let the fear stop you on this one.
– A standard one-hour flight costs 165 euros per person, while the “exclusive deluxe” ride (longer airtime, fewer people) goes for 230. Turkish lira (TL) and Canadian and American dollars are accepted.
– If you pay in cash, then you’ll get 15 euros off the 1 hr ride and 50 euros off the 90 min ride
– Find a small company to go with. The large ones like Goreme, Kapadokya, Anatolian have completely sanitized the initial experience. Less people in the basket is better, even with a higher price. Anatolian is notorious for being cheaper than everyone but also stuffing 20+ people into a basket … Don’t sell yourself short.
– If you get cold easily, then definitely bring along a sweater. In the summer, it’s about 18C up there, which is fantastic weather for me and I’ll wear shorts. However, you should bring warm clothes in case, even in the summer months. The early start and exposure to the elements can make for a chilly ride.
– I got my pictures from the center of the basket, but the best spot for photographers is at the outer corner of the basket, where you can get uninterrupted panoramas of up to 270 degrees.
– Don’t bother with the extended ride … an hour is enough for 98% of the people … anything more than that and I would have been bored and started to get cranky again.
– We did this trip on the last day of our vacation, but we didn’t realize that flights may be postponed due to strong winds. Don’t risk it and wait till the last day, we got lucky … you might not!
What do the videos look like?
The videos should say it all … but you can always see more on my Youtube Channel … search for balloons
Is it worth it?
I’m not as price sensitive as most travel bloggers, but I did think a little bit about the price of the entire thing. This is not a cheap experience at all, especially in the context that you’re going in a balloon for an hour. However, this was easily a highlight of the entire trip for me and definitely makes it into my experience inventory. The cost is high but you only live ONCE.