A Cappadocia balloon ride. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do but figured I’d never get the chance. Soaring over a rugged landscape dotted with craggy boulders in nothing but a wicker basket suspended from some brightly colored cloth? It sounded absolutely crazy and utterly amazing. I couldn’t wait to try it for myself.
Planning our Cappadocia Balloon Ride
Daniel and I didn’t have much time to plan a balloon ride, so we asked our hotel to arrange one for us. The cost was €150/person which seemed outrageously expensive at the time. We later found out this price was quite reasonable, thanks to travelling in the low season. The Turkish Civil Aviation Authority restricts the number of balloons that can take off each day. This limits the balloon passenger spots so that during the high season, prices can rise to upwards of €300/person.
We also realized we were lucky to get a spot on a balloon at all. The hotel arranged our balloon ride on the day of our arrival. During busy months, balloon rides book up well in advance. We also lucked out with the weather and had a beautifully sunny day with calm wind conditions – not to mention a full moon. Balloons cannot fly in stormy or windy weather and so apparently balloon rides are often cancelled in winter months.
So the moral here is to plan your Cappadocia balloon ride well in advance if you can.
Before the Balloon Ride
On the appointed morning, the balloon tour company picked us up at our hotel before dawn. We shivered as we made our way to the passenger van in the dark. The temperature was well below freezing, so we bundled up with stocking hats, thermal underwear and warm coats. We were glad of all our extra clothing later – but it didn’t get as cold as we feared due to the heat from the balloon’s burner.
Daniel and I arrived at an open area dotted with bonfires. We warmed ourselves next to a fire as we watched the crew unload our balloon from a truck. They spread the balloon out on the ground and then fired up the burner. Flames shot into the balloon and began heating up the air. We could see the light from scores of other balloons flicker on and off nearby.
Soon it was time to board our craft and we clambered inside. We crammed 24 passengers into the basket and all squeezed together like sardines. I could barely move. But I barely noticed – I was too busy grinning like an idiot. Our pilot gave us a few instructions and it was time to lift off.
During the Ride
Soon we lifted off and began slowly ascending into the air. Balloons that had already launched soared over our heads in a brightly colored rainbow. We had a birds-eye view of the remaining balloons as they drifted gently into the sky below us.
For the first portion of the ride, we stayed low to the ground. We watched as ground crews packed up trucks and trailed behind their respective balloons. A couple dressed in wedding clothes posed for photographs as hundreds of balloons swarmed overhead.
Eventually we rose in altitude and began pulling away from the other balloons. We had a spectacular view of the craggy boulders and fairy chimneys dotting the Cappadocia landscape. Mount Erciyes came into view on the horizon and the moon, luminous and full, kept us company in the clouds.
Then it was time for the big event – sunrise! The sun poked out from behind the horizon and sunbeams streamed into the pale twilight. I shaded my eyes as we all oohed and ahhed in unison as we watched the sun emerge.
After the Ride
All too soon, however, the balloon ride was over. The pilot navigated us towards our truck which was waiting on the ground. He instructed all passengers to brace themselves and deftly landed the balloon on the truck bed.
We tumbled out of the basket and hopped giddily to the ground. As the crew deflated the balloon, the pilot popped open a bottle of champagne and handed glasses all around.
As I sipped champagne amid a sea of landing balloons, I marvelled at the experience. I was still grinning like and idiot and realized that I hadn’t really stopped smiling the entire time. A passenger standing next to me introduced himself soon we were chatting about a balloon ride he took 20 years ago in Kenya.
What’s that you say? A safari balloon ride to see lions and zebras from the air? Apparently I have a new goal for my bucket list…
Where are we now?
Location: Göreme, Turkey
Date: Saturday, January 11, 2020
Vagabonding Journey Status: Day 103
For more details on our vagabonding journey, see my previous posts:
- Day 101: Bosphorus Sunset: A Ferry Ride to Remember
- Day 93: Unmissable Istanbul: Unicorn’s Top 10 Tourist Attractions
- Day 92: New Year’s Eve in Istanbul: Street Food and Birthday Pub Crawl Shenanigans
- Day 89: A Tour of Romania’s Castles: Day Trip to Transylvania
- Day 84: Christmas Abroad in Bucharest, the Little Paris of the East
Like this post? Pin It!
Click on the image below to save it to your board on Pinterest.