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Flying on a hot air balloon in Cappadocia: A slow-motion joyride

Breathtaking views, a magical sunrise and the slow thrill make it a different kind of Turkish Delight

Rini Chatterjee | Published 28.10.22, 12:06 PM
The landscape of Cappadocia is dotted with ancient cities, deep gorges and fairy chimneys

The landscape of Cappadocia is dotted with ancient cities, deep gorges and fairy chimneys

Photos: Rini Chatterjee

Nothing prepares you for the first flying experience in a hot air balloon. No amount of travel vlogs can tell you how extraordinary it is to take off in slow motion, leaving the breathtaking landscape of the ancient town of Goreme behind. The experience of flying in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, located in the Anatolian region of central Turkey, is one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have. You’ll get to see ancient cities, incredible valleys like the Love Valley and Rose Valley, rock formations and the Turkish countryside from an entirely new perspective.

Cappadocia is one of the most popular places for hot air balloon rides in the world because of its unique landscape and ideal weather conditions all-year round. There are roughly about 260 flying days in a year in Cappadocia! 

Cappadocia is one of the most popular places for hot air balloon rides in the world because of its unique landscape and ideal weather conditions all-year round

Cappadocia is one of the most popular places for hot air balloon rides in the world because of its unique landscape and ideal weather conditions all-year round

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We were picked up by our tour guide in the wee hours of the morning. It was 4 degrees outside, but the thrill of trying something new and adventurous warms you up. As I watched our balloon get prepped for its flight, I met my fellow passengers and exchanged notes on what to expect. I made way for climbing inside the basket while our balloon got fired up.

Firing up the hot air balloon before take-off

Firing up the hot air balloon before take-off

It was fascinating seeing countless balloons illuminating the valley right before taking off. Dressing comfortably is key. You may leave your dressy gowns behind and opt for stretchy pants instead. 

In this 40-minute balloon ride, I saw the majestic fairy chimneys, which are natural rock formations formed out of spewed lava from once-active volcanoes. People waved at us from their hotel terraces, vibrant balloons flew past us and this beautiful ride ended with the most magical sunrise. Gliding 3,000 feet above ground level was something out of a fairy tale.

Witness one of the most spectacular sunrises in the Anatolian peninsula

Witness one of the most spectacular sunrises in the Anatolian peninsula

I have watched many incredible tangerine sunrises but this one in Cappadocia will be my favourite for a long time to come. I may have even teared up a little. The landing was soft and easy, as long as you can duck and brace yourself for the basket to hit the ground! We cheered and clapped as soon as our mighty balloon touched down. Our first balloon ride was celebrated by a round of sparkling Rose wine in a beautiful lavender field and a certificate that our pilot very sweetly awarded to us.

A round of sparkling Rose in a fragrant lavender field is a spirited end to a hot air balloon ride

A round of sparkling Rose in a fragrant lavender field is a spirited end to a hot air balloon ride

To summarise, a typical hot-air balloon ride includes:

  1. Hotel pick-up
  2. Registration and breakfast
  3. Driving to the take-off spot
  4. Quick balloon preparation
  5. Take off and fly above the incredible landscape for about 40 minutes
  6. Landing
  7. Landing ceremony
  8. Hotel drop-off
The cone-like structures are fairy chimneys, which are natural rock formations formed due to past volcanic activity

The cone-like structures are fairy chimneys, which are natural rock formations formed due to past volcanic activity

PRO TIPS

  • Please book your seat in advance because they sell out fast and get more expensive closer to the date. I would totally recommend Get Your Guide; you can also check out popular brands Butterfly Balloons, Discovery Balloons.
  • The average cost per person is Rs 17,000 in peak season. One balloon can accommodate up to 12 people.
  • Please carry a phone strap that you can put around your neck. Selfie sticks are not advisable.
  • Hot air balloon rides happen at sunrise so it’s advisable to carry warm clothes as Cappadocia gets really chilly. 
  • Dressing comfortably is key – leave your dressy gowns behind and opt for stretchy pants.
  • The best time to experience this is September to November.
Rini Chatterjee

Rini Chatterjee

The author is a former hospitality professional, guest faculty at Le Cordon Bleu and passionate about travel writing and photography. She runs Canary Yellow Media and is on Instagram at @rinichatterje

Last updated on 28.10.22, 12:06 PM
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