Would this bucket list item live up to the hype? Here’s how our Cappadocia hot air balloon ride became the icing on the Instagram fuelled cake.


I was a bit apprehensive about my first balloon ride in Cappadocia. Not so much about whether or not this oversized picnic basket, attached to a balloon full of nothing but hot air, could hold us up; more because I was dreading the potential disappointment. A Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon ride is one of the most Instagrammed events on the planet. Countless beautiful photos, featuring beautiful people posing in front of beautiful balloons, have placed it firmly in the top position of many traveller’s bucket lists.

Apprehensive also, because of how we found ourselves in Cappadocia.

The previous day we were in Ölüdeniz. But, this bleak beach front had us re-planning our Turkey road trip in no time. Despondent by the lack of Turkish food (and people), aggressive selling and London prices, we abandoned Ölüdeniz and took to the road. Swapping one tourist-built town for one of Turkey’s biggest tourist attractions.

Would the additional 8 hours driving to escape Ölüdeniz be worth it? Or were we just going from one tourist trap to another?

Cappadocia is a surreal landscape. The 3 mountains that dominate the area erupted many moons ago, covering the surrounding earth with compressed volcanic ash. This volcanic ejection – when mixed with other rock – enabled the landscape to erode into the iconic and unusual shapes that have become the stars of Instagram today.

And what a canvas this natural phenomenon created. Smooth, sweeping valley walls, tall cone-like structures, and the three mountains framing a natural basin. It’s on the edge of this natural basin, as the sun rose over the canyon walls, that we stood – bleary-eyed and un-caffeinated at 4:30 in the morning – watching the balloons take to the sky.

It’s a magical sight, and this is a beautiful place. The smooth shapes of the valley walls slowly came into focus, illuminated with the early morning sun, as the balloons already in the air cut a silhouette against a very unusual backdrop. We stood there, taking it all in, listening to the sounds the burners firing up, slowly filling our balloon with air.

Before too long, our Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon was inflated and lifting our basket into the upright position. With excitement building, we clambered in and listened to a quick safety briefing which basically involved holding on and squatting down below the top of the basket for landing. It’s pretty tight in there so this meant sitting in the crutch of the person who happened to be behind you. Fine by me. This was an exciting experience; a little crutch sitting wasn’t going to spoil the mood.

With take-off preparations complete, our pilot’s friendly band of assistants released the ropes they were holding our basket down with and waved us off. It was a little like they’d just put a naive buddy on a homemade science experiment. Not sure what was going to happen but enjoying the experience of watching from the sidelines. But, with grace and poise, our little wicker basket slowly drifted away from them, along with any thoughts of Ölüdeniz or concerns about getting the right Instagram shot.

For the next hour we enjoyed pure, lofty bliss. We dropped deep into valleys, gliding no more than a metre above the ground. We skirted around trees and over sculpted rocks. We rose along the canyon walls. Ascended to 800 metres. And gawked at unobstructed panoramas of this unique landscape. The scenery was amazing, matched only by the remarkable control the pilot had over his vessel. It was precision flying with just the wind, a burner and who-knows-what directing our path.

Our Cappadocia hot air balloon trip left us with memories that we will hold on to for a long time, definitely one of our top moments in the area. Seeing hundreds of other balloons dot the sky with the morning sun poking over the horizon. The contours of the sculpted moonscape below us. The intense heat and sound from the burners firing just above our head. The frustration of a girl’s selfie-stick always in the way. The abundance of balloons lavishly colouring the sky.

It was a truly memorable holiday moment capped off by what we thought was a spectacular landing. After listening to Mark recount stories of being dragged along the ground the last time he took a balloon ride, I was expecting the worst from our landing. So, I was firmly gripping the basket, in the brace position, butt in my neighbour’s crutch, well below the top of the basket, holding on for dear life when the pilot told us we had landed.

This was news to me because I didn’t feel a thing.  But the really amazing thing was standing up and seeing that we had landed right on a little trailer that was no bigger than the basket itself.  In the world of Cappadocia hot air balloon landings, this must have been the something equivalent to the perfect parallel park.

We couldn’t take the smiles off our faces all day.

HOW TO ORGANISE A CAPPADOCIA HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE

There are numerous balloon operators in the main town in Cappadocia, Göreme. All include hotel pick-up and drop-off, plus a glass of champagne and a little certificate after your flight.

Bookings are only taken the day before a flight as this is a very weather dependent activity. Once you book and pay, the operator will send you a message that evening to confirm your flight and let you know what time you’ll be picked up from your hotel – usually between 4:00 and 4:45.

The hotels will usually keep an eye on the flying schedule and will be able to tell you in the flight for tomorrow is going ahead. We booked our balloon ride from Voyager Agency. (No.11A, Belediye Caddesi, 50180 Göreme.)

CAPPADOCIA HOT AIR BALLOON PRICE

Our Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia cost us €140 per person. Payment was required in full, in cash at the time of booking. If your flight is cancelled, they will put you on another flight the next day or refund you. While this may sound expensive it is significantly cheaper than many other similar hot air balloon trips around the world that can easily top €300. It is a truly great experience at a very good price.

MORE READING

Turkey is a fantastic holiday destination which is currently very cheap. Check out all our Turkey articles for more travel inspiration, including our take on Istanbul’s future, our detailed Istanbul guide and our ruin-porn voyage around western Turkey.

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How to have an amazing Cappadocia hot air balloon experience / #Cappadocia #Turkey #Hotairballoon

How to have an amazing Cappadocia hot air balloon experience / #Cappadocia #Turkey #Hotairballoon

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