If you search Google for the top 5 places to ride a hot air balloon, I am sure Göreme, Cappadocia, is at the top of the list.
I had only been in a balloon once before I got a ride in the Göreme Valley; it was not an activity that I would put on my list of things to do before I die. It could not make the adrenalin rush out of my mind at all, not like skydiving, swimming with dolphins, or the chance to be on a New Zealand TV game show.
Ballooning was a boring activity for me until I had a hot air balloon flight in Göreme. Göreme is an amazing place with striking landscapes, and it’s even more amazing when you have different perspectives from above and below ground.
And can you believe it, it was half the price of my first balloon trip!
Where should I stay during a balloon trip?
The reputation of Cappadocia not only comes from the unusual landscape, but it was also the accommodation that was built on the land that made this area a world class destination.
Cappadocia is full of many nice unique hotels that you could not find elsewhere. Cappadocia region is huge; it lies east of Anolotia and compromises Goreme, Avanos, Urgup, Nevsehir .
However, the only place balloons take off is Goreme. I highly recommend you to stay in Goreme, as it is a hub for all interesting places in this area. And the Goreme open air museum which is a must visit place, is within walking distance away!
The best way to come here is by bus, which is the most available transport in this country. The bus drops you off in the city center which you could walk around in less than half an hour. If you come by plane, you can find a free transfer bus to Nevesehir city courtesy of Turkish Airlines, and the bus to Goreme is 3 Lira.
How much does it cost?
There are many balloon companies around the region. I think there are at least 30 balloon companies in Goreme alone! You should search around for the best deal but the average price should be between $150-$200 including pick up from your accommodation in the early morning.
I stayed in Avanos so they picked me up at 4.30am, but if you stay in Goreme, pick up is around 5am and the price includes morning snacks and tea, balloon trip and Champagne!
It is super cheap for this kind of activity right? I went on hot air balloon in New Zealand and the price was about $350. The trip I chose in Goreme was through the most well-known companies, Kapadokya balloon. I will give you more information about this later in the article…
What would you see from the balloon?
The balloon experience is one that depends on many various factors including……
- Weather condition.
This is the most important condition of hot air ballooning. The balloon itself has doesn’t have a big complicated engine like the airplane, when it takes off the wind is its main engine. You could be on the balloon trip for an hour or just 35 minutes, it really depends on the wind. This is the reason why the pilot checks weather condition seriously before flight.
- Seasons and sunshine.
If you come here for a balloon trip in the summer, it would look totally different to flying in the winter- sunny days and cloudy days would obviously be very different as well. I saw a guy I know and he went ballooning on a cloudy day, so pictures he got are very different to mine.
- Pilot experience.
Another important factor is the pilot, as they are the one responsible for everyone’s lives during the flight. That was the reason I chose to fly with the oldest and most reliable balloon company-Kapadokya Balloon. My pilot has 10+ years’ experience of flying a hot air balloon and he was a very nice guide with a lot of knowledge and information. So let me show you what I have seen.
(The balloon had just taken off from the set up spot)
The scariest moment is when the hot air balloon takes off and sets down (lands). The taking off spot and landing spot could be different each time, depending on the various factors I have mentioned. If you are lucky, you can enjoy beautiful landscapes until they finish setting down the balloon.
In the picture above, the sun has not yet risen but you can still see the rock formations in some detail. There were many holes in the rocks; the big ones were made by men to be their accommodation and the small ones were for the pigeons that are as sacred in this area as cows are in India.
As the balloon takes off early and staff finish set up on time, you get to see the sun rise to the highest point on the horizon.
As the sun came up you could see the vast landscape in more detail. There are many different types of rocks and the history of this region dates back millions of years when lava streamed out of the earth’s plates and covered the whole surrounding area. But erosion was the main artist which sculpted the unusual shapes of rocks in this area.
I took this picture of Goreme with a birds- eye view of the city. You could see some rock formations which are called Fairy Chimneys and could be described as….
1. Cone shape
These formations have a wide base with a sharp peak, representing a perfect form of complete erosion.
2. Elongated shape.
This shape was formed as a result of the top section having a harder material than the base.
3. Pedestal shape.
Evidence of imperfect erosion which leaves the top looking like a hat.
In the past there have been some accidents from ballooning in Cappadocia which has cost some lives. I saw some bad news on Thai media too, when the group of journalists took a balloon trip and it landed awkwardly. No one died that time but unfortunately some people came away with broken bones.
Now the rules are quite strict and the authorities allow no more than 100 balloons to fly at the same time. So choose wisely, don’t make you decision only because of the price! Your life is more important than money in your pocket!
There are many places we flew past on our 90 minute trip in the sky. The pilot/ tourist guide at the same time, flew us past Uchisar castle, Goreme city, love valley, a cave decorated with prehistoric paintings and more. It was an unforgettable experience and it is now on my list of things I would regret if I could not have done it before I die.
The last tip from our favorite pilot was the story of Champaign celebration. “Do you know why we have to open this expensive alcohol after we land?” He asked us.
In the past, many people tried to fulfill the dream of flying, and ballooning was the one way that let people travel this way.
It was not clear who first invented the concept of balloon and basket, but on November 21, 1783 in Paris, France, the first untethered manned flight was performed by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes, in a hot air balloon created in 1782 by the Montgolfier brothers. They landed successfully!!!
Actually landing was the most important process in the past, there were many accidents hot air ballooning because the pilot could not land properly. Nowadays there are new technologies in use to assit the pilot in navigating the balloon.
So when they landed safely in the past, it was a big deal for them….. and they had to celebrate!!! This kind of activity then became a ceremony.
I am glad that I didn’t feel like I had to celebrate when we landed on this trip, and I hope you guys would feel the same.
— petz (@lovelyplanetz) June 7, 2014