I recently had the experience of a lifetime of riding in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia. If you do not have this on your bucket list, you most definitely need to add it because it is the thrill of a lifetime. My husband and I visited Cappadocia on our 3-week road trip across Turkey. Cappadocia offers so many unique experiences such as rock cave accommodations or hiking through some of the most vivid rock formations I have ever seen.
The hot air balloon industry in Cappadocia is becoming one of the most common travel bucket list activities in the world. It’s not surprising as you float above the historical cave dwellings of Goreme, filled with 100s of balloons at sunrise. You will feel like you are in a fairytale scene. This was one of our most memorable moments ever!
I will share with you all the information you need to know before you book your balloon flight, weather requirements, other ways to enjoy the balloons besides being in the basket, as well as what you will expect of your journey so that you will have an amazing experience.
BOOKING YOUR HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE
There are many options when selecting a company to book your hot air balloon ride. We examined their reviews, how long they had been in business, and the price before choosing Royal Balloons.
The cost to ride in a hot air balloon is approximately 180 USD and can be as high as 300 USD per person. Obviously, if you want fewer people or a private smaller balloon, the price will be higher. The payment was required in full at the time of booking. If your flight is canceled, they will put you on another flight the next day or give you a refund. All prices include hotel pick-up and drop-off, plus a small bite to eat before the ride and a little certificate afterward.
The flight lasts about 60 minutes but the whole process takes a couple of hours. Our balloon actually stayed afloat a little longer so that we could enjoy the view!
I highly recommend booking online in advance with a reliable company. A great site to use for booking is Get Your Guide which is a reliable source and one of the biggest in the world and with lots of positive reviews.
HOT AIR BALLOON AVAILABILITY
Most people don’t realize before they arrive in Cappadocia is that the hot air balloons don’t fly every day. Weather conditions must be perfect for them for liftoff and safe flight. Make sure that you book your flight for the first morning you’re in Cappadocia to give yourself additional opportunities to fly in the event the first flight is canceled due to weather.
START OF THE ADVENTURE
Your adventure will begin at 4:30 am when you will be picked up from your hotel and driven to the check-in area where they will supply you with a basic breakfast and coffee.
Once everyone has checked in, you’ll be assigned to a group and a particular pilot/balloon. Then you’ll be driven to the launch site. At this time, you may get butterflies in your stomach and super excited about the flight.
When you arrive at your balloon it will be dark, but the flames will begin to light up as they fill the balloon with hot air. This process takes a while and gives you time to capture some great images. This is something you need to video! I enjoyed the colors coming to life as the balloons began to rise.
Depending on the time of year, you may want to bring along a jacket as it can be cool in these early hours of the day and will be much cooler once up in the air.
While the preparations were going on, the captain gave us a few instructions – how to hold onto the basket, even obvious things like not to bend over, the correct landing position etc. We could tell that everyone was excited and ready for the flight!
AN UNFORGETTABLE RIDE!
As we climbed into the basket, I became concerned that the adventure was going to be nothing like I had seen on social media. We had six compartments with 4 people in each. The pilot is in the middle in his own segment, where he pumps hot air into the balloon from different canisters. I worried that we would not be able to enjoy the view.
Getting in Basket
But as we began our flight, we saw that no matter where you are located in the basket you will have an amazing view. The sky was full of balloons scattered throughout the sky across the unique landscape below.
With the sunrise in the background, the colorful balloons, and the futuristic landscape below, there were lots of opportunities for great pictures and videos. I think I snapped 100s of images on my camera. Make sure to include a selfie stick to capture you with the balloons in the background. Be considerate when using your selfie stick as our riders in our bucket were a little bit excessive with swinging around their stick without care for others in the bucket.
Take-off went smoothly. We slowly drifted off into the sky. I was surprised at how low and close to the rock formations the pilot went to give us a chance to take great photos.
The rise of the different balloons across the sky looks like they were floating in musical harmony. The main word being said throughout the ride is “wow.” It is truly breathtaking!
Below you will see the most unique land formations such as Deverant Valley, Zelve Valley, Rose Valley, and Red Valley. Our pilot would point out these major landmarks so that we would be able to distinguish when reviewing our photos.
Luckily, the weather was calm and made it easier for the pilot to guide the balloon for landing.
My worry was landing, but our pilot lowered the basket with 12 passengers, perfectly onto a trailer, that will deliver the balloon back to its home. Once the basket touched down, everyone in the basket clapped and praised the pilot!
The hot air balloon company dropped us back at our hotel where I quickly and excitedly shared our experience through exquisite photos of it.
SCARED TO RIDE
I understand that a hot air balloon ride might not be your thing, however, you can still enjoy the experience on land. Throughout Cappadocia, there are several viewing spots and cliffs that many visitors go to in order to enjoy the view of the balloons cruising the sky.
- Lover’s Hill: This panoramic sunset viewpoint in Goreme Town is the perfect spot to watch the sunrise, which is why it is quite crowded in the morning for sunrise and of course sunset. Although it may be crowded it offers the best place to photograph the hot air balloons.
- Love Valley: Off the beaten path this is great because balloons will fly low over Love Valley giving you an epic photo.
- Red Valley Hill Viewpoint: From the Red Valley sunset viewpoint, hike up onto the hill behind, which is marked with a flag.
- Rose Valley: A short distance out of Goreme is where you can capture low flying balloons as well as cave dwellings and rock formations to explore.
WHERE TO STAY
Roma Cave Suite Hotel is an excellent cave-style hotel to experience the rock formations of Cappadocia. They serve a delicious Turkish-style breakfast (included in the nightly rate).
Artemis Cave Suites is a boutique hotel nestled up to Love Hill. The hotel offers luxury accommodation in traditional cave rooms, providing you with a unique experience and daily breakfast. The rooms are spacious with large private bathrooms. Each rooms have their own terrace with a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.
In addition to accommodations, they have restaurant that served not only traditional Turkish dishes but other menu options. We tried several different menu items and found the food excellent. Food can be served in the restaurant or on the terrace, where you have amazing views of the sunrise or sunset.
- Kids under 7 or 8 are not allowed on a hot air balloon.
- One hour flight is plenty long. Don’t pay for a 90-minute flight.
- Wear proper clothing based on the weather. Don’t wear a dress or fly-away clothing as it can get windy at times.
- Turkish authorities decide each day if the weather conditions are suitable for a balloon flight.
- Be ready to be picked up at the assigned time because the shuttle driver is ALWAYS on time.
- A hot air balloon ride is a once-in-a-lifetime experience you will never forget. I encourage you to make this a part of your trip. I know that it is a bit expensive but will worth the ride.