Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia
A highlight of our recent journey to Turkey was exploring the unusual landscapes of Cappadocia. And the very best way to get a bird's eye view of this world of cave homes and unique land formations is to see it by hot air balloon. Recognized as one of the best locations in the world to fly in a hot air balloon, Cappadocia provided us with an astounding sunrise and breathtaking scenery sure to make our list of most memorable activities.
Starting out at 5am, we were picked up at our hotel by Royal Balloon and taken to a location where we joined others for a full open buffet breakfast and then a ride to our specific balloon. Our balloon pilot was Royal's Chief Pilot Suat Ulusoy, who not only gave Martha Stewart her private VIP balloon ride when she visited but also serves as a pilot for the red, white and blue RE/MAX hot air balloon that can be seen in the real estate company's advertising. His interest in American civil war history as well as his many engaging stories kept us entertained and confident that we wouldn't crash into a hillside anytime soon. He started us out away from the other nearly hundred balloons to avoid what he called "balloon rush hour" and provided us with an opportunity to enjoy a little scenic tour away from our counterparts.
Lighting the fire under the balloon - and getting ready to take off.
Once we were airborne, the sounds of everyday life vanished, replaced by a peaceful silence, broken occasionally by the rush of the flame used to heat the balloon to make it go higher. The friendly chatter of our 11 basket-mates and stories and information about the landscape by our pilot only served to highlight the otherwise quiet morning. Watching the sunrise and feeling the calm, smooth movement of the balloon were hypnotizing and serene.
Soaring quietily above the unbelievable view of the unearthly landscape of Cappadocia.
Pigeon dwellings carved into the rocks.
If you've ever considered taking a balloon ride but were afraid of potential dangers, we can only tell you from our experience that there was no reason for concern. The flight was so enjoyable that Suat asked if anyone minded staying up a little longer - no one objected and we were all delighted to have some extra time in the air. We watched the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia punctuated by pigeon homes carved into the rocks so that the birds stick around and provide natural fertilizer for the grape vines naturally growing on the ground. We saw many others in their balloons enjoying the same scenic beauty, but never really felt their presence, so though hot air ballooning in Cappadocia has become big business, it is also somehow a very personal, engaging experience.
Our trusted pilot Suat from Royal Balloon.
Our pilot landed the balloon basket expertly on the trailer and then we were treated to a champagne toast and given medals to mark our achievement. We enjoyed the camaraderie of our new friends for a time and then were taken back directly to our hotel. If you are looking for something different and memorable to do, we highly recommend a balloon ride in Cappadocia and the expert piloting of Royal Balloon.
Watch the short video below that we put together it really captures the whole experience.
We'll be sharing more tales of Turkey in the future, so stay tuned...