Cappadocia was one of the main reasons I came to Turkey. I wanted to see its fairy chimneys, weirdly shaped rocks, and multi colored cliffs that look like something out of a Tim Burton’s movie. Going on a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia is one of the best ways to do that.
A hot air balloon ride is like the thing to do in Cappadocia. It’s what most people in Cappadocia came to do, but it’s not cheap and I wondered it was going to be worth it.
Arriving in Goreme on a night bus from Pamukkale, I could see tiny dots in the sky – those are the hot air balloons that rise every morning over Goreme. Despite my lack of sleep (Oh how I miss Peru’s Cruz del Sur night bus) I started to get really excited about finally seeing the place that’s been on my bucket list for a long time. I knew then that if I didn’t go on a hot air balloon I was going to regret it.
Goreme, the main town in Cappadocia, itself is not much to see. Having been overtaken by budget accommodations and tour agencies, (and stray cats) it nevertheless makes for a convenient base to see the region and to book your tours, including the hot air balloon tour.
The next day, a van from Voyager Ballons picked me up at 5 am from the hostel and drove me to the launching area where the balloons were getting primed. Even while still on the ground, it was quite a sight. The balloons were humongous.
Soon enough our hot air balloon lifted off and immediately I was BLOWN AWAY by the sight. Dozens of colorful hot air balloons rising to the sky with Cappadocia’s canyons and valleys below.
The basket gently rotates as we float over the landscape I’ve dreamed of seeing for so long. It feels so surreal.
The best way to see Cappadocia is truly from the air. Despite my earlier reservations I have to say that going on a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia is worth the hype.
It’s stunning. I can’t imagine a landscape more perfect to be viewed from a hot air balloon like Cappadocia.
Some tips on choosing your Cappadocia hot air balloon provider:
When choosing your hot air balloon provider, it’s truly the case that you get what you pay for. I went with Voyager Balloons and was really happy with it. The owner, Halis Aydogan, happened to be the pilot of my balloon so we chatted for a bit. He told me that these are the qualities that you seek from your hot air balloon provider:
Longer air time. More expensive hot air balloon provider means longer time in the air.
Experienced pilots. Different air layers move in different directions. A hot air balloon pilot needs to skillfully adjust the height of the ballon to take advantage of these air layers (that’s how they control the left and right direction), having an experienced pilot means more control of where the balloon goes.
More launch areas. High quality hot air balloon providers rent more launching areas surrounding Goreme so that regardless of where the wind blows they guarantee that the balloon will fly over the best parts of Cappadocia. Unlike that one group that saw nothing but pumpkin fields on their trip.
Find out the name of your hot air balloon company and research them. Many backpackers end up booking their hot air balloon tours from their hostels, often without knowing the name of the providers. I thought this was surprising. Maybe I’m anal but I like to research company that I put my life into beforehand. Even though hot air balloons are very safe, accidents do happen. The last one happened in May 2013.