A Cappadocia balloon flight had been on my bucket list for quite some time. When a friend invited me to visit her in Istanbul it was logical to plan my balloon trip. In case you’re wondering, Cappadocia is an area in central Turkey. I have seen so many photographs of the area, but none of them did justice to its otherworldly beauty. When I arrived I fell in love with it instantly.
My trip did not start well. I was flying from Rome to Istanbul and then taking a domestic flight to Nevşehir airport. This is the closest airport to Goreme, the main tourist town. Arriving in Istanbul I found that my flight, due to leave at lunchtime was cancelled. I was puzzled as I looked at the boarding pass in my hand.
About an hour later I managed to get onto a flight leaving at around 4.00 pm. This flight was also delayed. You cannot begin to imagine my frustration. Eventually, boarding was called and nothing happened. At about 8.00 pm we were told that we could board, but not to Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport , but Kayseri which was about an hour away from Goreme. I arrived after midnight exceptionally irritated. It was dark and cold and I could see nothing except ghostly shapes rising out of the earth.
There is a moral to this tale. Cappadocia is not an easy destination to get to, but it is worth the effort. The most important reason is that ballooning is weather dependent. The balloons had not flown for 3 days prior to my arrival. I was told that it was unseasonal and unusual weather, but I would have been very unhappy if I had not been able to take to the skies.
My advice is arrange a hot air balloon flight as soon as you get there or the weather might not play its part in your plans.
The Ins & Outs Of A Cappadocia Balloon Trip
When to fly
The best weather for planning a Cappadocia balloon ride is between April and October. The thermals are ideal at this time of year. The skies are clear and the winds are light. Some companies fly in winter as well, but I imagine it must be ice-cold with snow on the ground. I was there in May and it was still cold! The worst time of the year is January and February and there is a good chance of your flight being cancelled.
Fairy chimneys and balloons
Is a hot air balloon safe?
Of course it is, but like most things, there is a risk attached to it. The balloon pilots are highly skilled and have to be licensed. Our pilot was incredible and managed to land the balloon on a trailer with a bit of assistance from the ground crew. I did ask about accidents and I was told that in the last 3 years there has only been 1 accident. With about half a million people flying every year that is a good safety record in my book.
Sunrise in Cappadocia
What to expect
There is a very early start as the best time for flying is at sunrise. I was collected from my hotel at 4.45 am and taken to the Air Kapadokya’s offices. They had hot drinks and biscuits available while the formalities were completed. We were then transferred in minibuses to the take-off site. The pilot introduced himself and went through a safety briefing.
The balloons were being inflated when we arrived. Everyone was helped into the basket which holds 16-20 people. A few minutes later we took off. We floated up and up and we were soon the highest balloon. I think that the pilots have a bit of fun with this trying to see who gets the height record for the day, but that’s just my opinion.
The flight was a surreal experience. We flew over sleepy villages and beautiful rock formations. The fairy chimneys reached skyward like a fantasy world. As the sun rose the colours changed. It is a dream to photograph and such a wonderful experience. The flight was about an hour, but this will vary as it is dependent on weather conditions. We landed with hardly a bump and celebrated with a glass of non-alcoholic bubbly. There was also presentation of commemorative certificates for the flight.
TIP : Try and stand in the corner near the pilot. You will get the best shots with nobody in front of you.
The cost of the Standard Program is 175 Euros per passenger. A cash discount of 10 Euros per passenger is offered.
This was not my first flight, but this Cappadocia balloon trip was totally different to any of the others I have done in the past. The day of my flight there were in excess of 70 balloons flying. Magic was in the air. Add to that the hauntingly beautiful scenery and you cannot help but feel that you were part of something special.
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Hot air balloon Cappadocia