As our balloon rose higher into the sky, along with the sun, it struck me that this Cappadocia hot air balloon ride would likely be one of my top life experiences. My eyes were wide, as was the smile on my face, and I had to refrain from jumping up and down with excitement. Something the eleven other passengers in the floating basket would not find amusing I’m sure.
We were in Cappadocia, Turkey and were gently drifting above the surreal landscape of extraordinary rock formations that the region is famous for. The ‘fairy chimneys’ as they’ve been called rose up from the ground below us and at times we flew close enough to almost reach out and touch the strange capped pinnacles. This thanks to the incredible maneuvering skills of our pilot Mehmet Halis Aydogan, who is also the owner of Voyager Balloons.
There were 70 other balloons rising with us that morning and the blue Cappadocia sky was filled with a rainbow of colors. Despite the hundreds of people in the air, the only sound to be heard was the intermittent thrusts of the burners sending hot gas into the bag above us. We were all struck speechless by the spectacle for the first 20 minutes.
Once awakened from our wonder induced state of hypnosis the oohs and aahs started as did the constant click click click of the cameras. We literally couldn’t shoot fast enough to capture the changing light of dawn showcasing the incredibly bizarre and beautiful landscape and the parade of balloons all around us.
Sadly 60 minutes flew by far too quickly and we found ourselves coming down, both physically and figuratively, from the peaceful skies. With the help of guidelines and instructions from the ground crew, our very talented pilot landed us softly on the back of a flatbed truck to cheers all around. Once on the ground we were each presented with a certificate by M. Halis himself along with a glass of champagne to toast our unforgettable voyage.
As anticipated it truly was a top life experience which I will never forget. The only potential negative for me is that I think this Cappadocia hot air balloon ride may have spoiled me for any future rides anywhere else as I can’t imagine they could stand up to this one.
Tips for Planning a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride
- Cappadocia is a top destination for hot air balloons for good reason. There is nowhere else in the world where you will find such unique and spectacular landscape combined with consistently perfect air conditions. Last year there were balloons flying on more than 300 mornings which is unheard of in most parts of the world.
- Voyager Balloons is one of 25 companies in Cappadocia with a fleet accounting for nine out of the more than 200 balloons in total. When selecting a company to fly with it is important to do your research, after all you will be hundreds of feet in the air so you want to know you are in good hands. Voyager was recommended to us by Argeus Tourism but we also checked Tripadvisor and other sites for reviews to make sure others had been happy with their choice.
- We went on the sunrise tour which is the most popular option due to the tendency for calmer winds (balloons don’t go up in winds of more the 15km) and of course there is the sunrise itself. Note that you will need to be ready at 5 am but it is so very worth it!
- Book your flight in advance especially during the peak seasons. Also because of the possibility of cancellations due to weather it is advised that you book for the first morning of your stay so that you have a chance to be rescheduled.
- Prices can vary greatly depending on time of year, flight duration, and balloon capacity so do some comparison shopping.
- As said before do some research. Don’t let price be your only deciding factor, cheaper is definitely not always the way to go with balloon rides. Other considerations should be how long the company has been flying, how much experience do the pilots have, how old are the balloons, what is the capacity, what is their safety record? Also good to know is if transportation to and from your hotel is included as is breakfast?
- Wear layers (it’s cold at first but heats up with the burners going), wear flat shoes (you don’t want heels or uncomfortable shoes as you’re standing in a floating basket!), bring a camera. Oh and be sure to visit the bathroom before leaving as there are none at the launch site or on the balloon of course.
- Finally, be prepared for an amazing and unique experience. A Cappadocia hot air balloon ride is something that you cannot find anywhere else on earth!
**We want to thank M. Halis Aydogan of Voyager Balloons for an incredible, once in a lifetime experience. Although we were hosted by Voyager all opinions are completely our own and they would definitely be our first choice for a balloon ride in Cappadocia.