Day 2 – A Magical Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride
Our second morning in Cappadocia saw us up bright and early, ready for a once in a lifetime experience – a hot air balloon ride! If you’ve been reading my blog for a few years, you may remember my amazing trip to Myanmar, with my friend Kirsty. She was pregnant at the time, so we were not able to ride in the balloons (click here if you’d like to read!), however this time Emma and I decided it was worth splurging for the experience.
We booked our hot air balloon ride via our hotel tour desk, and there are many different operators offering the ride. From what I’ve read online, the price varies depending on whether it’s high or low season, and we paid €100 each, which I found quite reasonable.
We were picked up while it was still completely dark outside and taken to the office of the hot air balloon company, stopping along the way to pick up a few more people. Once there, you could get some coffee and hot fresh bread rolls (the coffee was truly awful but the bread was lovely, at least!) while the organisers got everyone into groups to be driven out to the launch site.
Our balloon could hold up to 24 people – if you wanted a smaller basket (max 16 people) you could pay €150. We decided it wasn’t worth paying the extra, and once we got into the balloon we realised that the basket was actually separated into 4 sections, so we didn’t feel that it would have made much difference at all.
We were driven out to the field where lots of balloons were lined up ready and waiting – with the pilots starting to get them all fired up. It was an amazing sight, almost pitch black outside with just the fires of the hot air balloons.
As soon as everyone was in the balloon, the men on the ground were untying the ropes, our captain was firing up the gas, and before we knew it, we were off! It was such a smooth “take-off”, that neither Emma nor I had even realised we were off the ground until we were at least a couple of metres above the ground. Such a strange sensation, but very cool!
With the sky beginning to lighten as the sun came up, we could see the incredible scenery surrounding us. Cappadocia is a truly magical place, and seeing the landscape from above is definitely the best way to spend a morning there!
Slowly the sky started filling up with balloons, as others took off around us. Up to 150 balloons can fly at one time in Cappadocia, and they run around 250 days a year. They can be cancelled at the last minute due to strong winds, so we were lucky that we got to experience it one morning.
I may start to sound like I am repeating myself here, but honestly this has to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life!
We soared above the other balloons, dipping in and out of the peaks of the valley. Our pilot Serkan had been flying hot air balloons for over 10 years, and took us through the magical landscape which every single person in the balloon was in awe over.
The town of Goreme was lit up in the early morning light, and we floated over trying to spot our hotel amongst all of the other cave hotels.
Soon we were floating through the valley, and Serkan took us so low it felt like we could reach out and touch the trees! We soared through Love Valley, aptly named for the rather interesting shape of the chimney rocks…
Soon the sky was bright and although we didn’t witness an actual sunrise, the spectacular sight of at least 100 hot air balloons was just as beautiful!
After around an hour of flying time, we started the slow descent back down to the ground. There are crews that chase the balloons on ground with the trucks, ready for landing. During the initial safety briefing, you’re taught how to land, and there are some handles at the side of the baskets that you have to hold on to tightly, as well as crouching down low.
The craziest part of the landing, is that skilled pilots land straight onto the back of the truck, rather than onto the ground. We certainly weren’t expecting that!
After touchdown, the balloons need to be deflated, so they can be packed up into a tiny little bag. For that, we were all called in to help, and run along the balloon to get all of the air out!
Whilst that was being done, our pilots and the team on ground were setting up a little table with some sparkling drinks for us to enjoy after the ride. What a wonderful start to the day!
A magical morning, a sunrise hot air balloon ride through the incredible landscapes and valleys of Cappadocia. The organisers drove us back in the van and dropped us off at our hotel, just in time to enjoy another delicious Turkish breakfast spread, before another day of exploring!