I read somewhere that 75% of the world’s hot air balloons are in Cappadocia. I can’t verify if that is true, but it certainly is feasible – every day (weather permitting) looks like a hot air balloon festival with dozens, if not hundreds of balloons taking off at dawn to fly over and through the landscape.
We were advised to book our flight on the first day of our trip, in case the weather conditions weren’t right. Since some balloon incidents a few years ago, the Turkish government keeps a tight rein over the balloon companies, and all flights are grounded if the conditions are not good. We pre-booked our flight through our hotel, and indeed the balloons were grounded on that first day. Fortunately, on the second day we got the all clear, and we were ready and waiting for our hotel pickup at 4:30am, wide awake and bursting with excitement.
Ballooning is not a cheap exercise, but absolutely worth every cent (or Turkish Lira). The views are stupendous, the sight of all those balloons filling the sky, the thrill of floating past fairy chimneys so close you feel like you could reach out and touch them, then suddenly to be flying so high above the ground that you can see forever – it’s all indescribable and totally thrilling. I am afraid of heights, and I won’t deny I got a bit wobbly at times, but the experience is so memorable that I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Here are a few photos that hopefully give a glimpse of what it was like. If you have never considered visiting Cappadocia, add it to your wishlist today!
The next best thing to being in a balloon is to watch them flying from below. So the next morning we were again up early, and headed up to Sunset Point to watch the balloons being launched and floating past and above us. It was almost as spectacular as flying, and definitely worth the early wake up. The following day the balloons were grounded again, so we were fortunate that we were able to have the experiences we did have.