I loved Cappadocia - the landscape, the rock colours, the vivid formations made by forces of nature chipping away for thousands of years. I am not sure when some of us would visit the rugged landscape of the Moon or Mars, but there are few areas on Planet Earth that come close to an unearthly experience and Cappadocia is surely one of them.
There is loads to do in Cappadocia - hiking, visiting underground cities and caves, enjoying a cave-hotel hospitality and good food - but a Hot Air Balloon ride is a must-do. The rock formations, valleys and unusual landscape in this region are best enjoyed with an aerial view.
My husband and I visited Cappadocia as part of our 10-day Turkey trip. We explored many sites in Cappadocia with short hikes and also explored the picturesque landscape by car. But the hot air balloon ride was memorable for both of us.
We were travelling with our 15-month baby, so we had to take this flight separately on different mornings. There was a bit of wind on the day my husband took the ride, but mine was a calm experience and the landing exceptionally smooth. Our flights were booked with Butterfly Balloons and we both had a good experience.
Start of the adventure
I was super excited for this my first experience in a hot-air balloon. And although a hot air balloon ride is a mild event for an adventure-junkie like me, I was looking forward to seeing the marvellous rock formations and valleys from the top.
I woke up at a brutally early time in the morning. Butterfly Balloons - the hot air balloon company organised by the cave hotel we were staying in, had sent a pick-up on time. In no time, I was at the site just as dawn was about to break out. It was a bit cool so I was happy that I had remembered to put a light jacket on.
Somehow, in my mind (for no reason whatsoever), I thought that the balloon would be all ready and we would just climb in and soar! There was a HUGE balloon lying on the ground and preparations were on to fill it with gas. Let me set your expectations rights - it takes a long time to fill the gas, it doesn’t happen in a jiffy!
While the preparations were going on, the captain gave us a few instructions - how to hold onto the basket, even obvious things like not to bend over, the correct landing position etc.
As the gas began to fill the balloon, it started to rise like a giant puppet raising its head. It was a thrilling scene. The sky was just about to get imbued with shades of orange and yellow.
The basket was held onto the ground with thick ropes. We all made our way to it and climbed aboard. And when the captain untied the ropes and the balloon began to rise in the sky, the group cheered.
What a memorable ride!
The feeling that you were alone in this vast region goes poof the minute you soar in the sky and see about 50 balloons all around you. We had visited in the shoulder season. I was told that the number of balloons goes up to double (of what I was seeing!).
As crowded as the sky gets, it is not like the balloons are jostling for space or coming I your way of appreciating the landscapes beneath. And there is a certain harmony to be enjoyed all those multi-coloured balloons rise and ride in the sky.
Driving all over the day earlier had given me a good orientation of the region and I was able to easily spot the Deverant valley, Zelve Valley, Rose Valley, and Red Valley. You have to see the vivid formations and the rugged landscape for yourself to believe it.
The ride depends a lot on that day’s weather conditions. I had an almost perfect day. A little of wind gave us the necessary push to soar quite high. But it wasn’t windy to make the adventure uncomfortable.
The almost-perfect weather conditions ensured a very smooth landing. So much so that the captain told us not to bother with the landing position. Again, a round of cheer went up as we touched the ground and clambered out of the basket.
There was a picnic set up for us when we landed. Yes, the captain had managed to land quite close to the picnic table! Fresh juice, fruit and light snacks were welcome since everyone had come too early to eat anything.
The hot air balloon company also dropped me back to my cave hotel. I came back with lovely photos and even lovelier memories.
Tips and additional information
Kids under 7 or 8 are not allowed on a hot air balloon, so families must check with their operator on the exact age. Even if allowed, do make sure your kid is holding the basket firmly.
Even adults should stay calm during the flight and really, there is no need to jostle around for photos. An hour’s flight gives you more than enough time to take photographs of the amazing landscape.
There is nothing to be afraid of, most rides even with some wind are gentle and languid. You are given a short brief on landing position in the beginning. But do note that the ride can become uncomfortable should the weather conditions change. This is a safe experience but perhaps not for someone who is really afraid of heights.
A one-hour flight is a good experience. So if you need to save money, don't hesitate to take the 1-hour flight instead of the longer one.
Do carry a light jacket or shawl. It is cool and windy, to begin with. And it gets progressively warmer as the sun shines brightly.
Be ready for the pick up sent by the balloon company. They are on time.
I have been told that the fact my husband and I could do our balloon rides on consecutive days without any rescheduling or cancellations is indeed lucky! Turkish authorities decide each day whether the weather conditions are suitable for a balloon flight. There are many days where the flights are cancelled for days together. Nothing can be done, it is really for your safety. Cancellations are more common during the autumn and winter months.
This is not a cheap experience. But it is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, the unique geography and formations are best enjoyed from an aerial perspective. Click here to book your hot air balloon experience in Cappadocia.