Cappadocia is one of the best places in the world to fly a hot air balloon. It may very well be one of those things you only do once in a lifetime and that unequivocally affirms itself as a lifelong memory.
The emotions that flow through you when you’re 2,000 feet above the ground, looking at the valleys of chimneys laid out before you, surrounded by hundreds of other balloons (yes, really hundreds), all while being a quiet observer to a stunning sunrise… simply put, it’s breathtaking. Something you can’t truly imagine until you’re actually there, taking it all in.
It all starts with a 5 am wake-up call. After snoozing the alarm a few times, you leave the luxurious cave you’ve stayed the night in (the locals call it the mağara süitleri). The crisp, cold hair hits you strong, carrying an effect that’s a bit more sharp than what your average Starbucks espresso would deliver. As your fingers reach a pre-frost state, you arrive at the shuttle, which rushes you and everyone on the schedule to fly that day to a warm house, filled with smiling staff and a hot buffet-style breakfast with - of course - Turkish coffee and Baklava.
A hour-long wait (a frequent scenario, as the balloon companies await final approval from the local governing authority, contingent on the weather), and the shuttle finally returns and gets you over to the departure location. Another half an hour goes by and you’re finally gently lifted towards the sky.
The view left us speechless, and yearning for more of it. It was truly something special to behold - the hundreds of hot air balloons, the fairy chimneys, carved-out cliffs, and fiery sunrise. What could be more serene and exhilarating than this? That was the single thought that crossed our heads.
An hour went by, but it felt like a minute. The experience was magnificent, romantic, and unforgettable. If ever you travel to Turkey, spend a couple of days in Cappadocia - specifically, Göreme - to experience this beauty. And should your desire coincide with something a bit warmer, we can recommend flying a hot air balloon in Masai Mara, Kenya. But that’s a story for another time.
Here are some of our personal recommendations:
Hotel Sultan Cave Suites (has the best view in the whole town; not to mention that you literally live in a cave)
Turquez balloons (one of the best balloon ride companies out here)
Butterfly balloons (another great company that gives balloon rides and gears you up for some of the best off-road experiences)