Tourist Guide to Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia, located in the heart of Turkey, is perhaps the most well-known amongst distant travelers for offering a picturesque scenery of hundreds and thousands of colorful hot air balloons.

By Tiasha Chatterjee

Hot air balloons ebb and flow over the numerous valleys and volcanoes of the famous fairy chimney formations. Although only one amidst the many unique activities that you can take part in Turkey, arguably, it is the most popular activity for tourists to make their stay remarkable! 

The best way to enjoy the surreal valleys that populate the land is to view from a birds-eye stance, thus making the hot air balloon experience a favorite amongst all visitors. As the huge balloon floats in the fresh morning air, you will get a breathtaking view of the wavy valley ridges, rock cones, and obviously the fairy chimneys, which are thin rock pillars that were created by volcanic actions and have come to their present form due to wind and rain. An ideal photographer’s haven, you simply cannot miss out on hot air ballooning on your next trip to Turkey.

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Before The Hot Air Balloon Experience

Balloons getting inflated Balloons getting inflated

The safest time to have your hot air balloon ride is on the first hour of daylight, thus making it an activity for early birds - you will need to wake up even before dawn! All the major hot air balloon operators have a pickup service available, where they will pick you up from your hotel itself, so you do not have to fuss about catching an early ride. Next, you will be dropped over at the balloon company, where you will be served a fulfilling breakfast, as other passengers are collected, and the payments are processed. 

Once all the necessary arrangements are done, you will have to hop on a minibus or a 4WD, which will take you to the launch site. Here you will get to witness the enormous balloons getting inflated and ready for launch! All the passengers will next get into the baskets, ready to take off. If you have issues with mobility, no need to worry - the excellent ground crew will help you at all steps. Once everyone is on board and the balloon is fully inflated, you are ready to be lifted off the ground!

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In The Air

Cappadocia landscape Cappadocia landscape

The Cappadocia landscape is scarce in wildlife, so the hot air balloons are allowed to descend extremely low to the ground. This way you can get a full view of the excellent landscape - both up close and from far above the clouds. The balloons can go up to 3,000 ft or 900 meters into the air, from where you will get an incredible bird’s eye view of the wavy valley networks. As the balloon gets closer to the ground, you will witness many beautiful valleys and orchid-filled plateaus. If luck favors and the wind is by your side, your balloon will skim near the top of the fairy chimneys, and you will get a clear view of the geographical oddities carved by years of wind and water action. 

The helpful flight captains will tell you insightful stories about the local topographical features and its rich history. Most of them have great knowledge about numerous languages, including English, Turkey, Japanese, Dutch, and German! While you are still in the air, the ground staff will follow your balloon from the land below and meet with the balloon once it descends to land. The landing site usually varies depending upon the direction of the wind. For days with ideal weather conditions, the hot air balloon perfectly lands on the ground crew’s trailer.

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After The Landing

Landing Landing

Once your hot air balloon has landed and you have disembarked, you will be offered a fresh serving of snacks and drinks, while the ground staff packs up the balloon and transports it back to the launch site. Most of the major hot air balloon operators give out certificates to commemorate your flight, while you are still on site. Once all the formalities are completed, they will arrange a mode of public transport for you, usually, a minibus or a 4WD, which will drop you back to your hotel. 

The full hot air balloon experience takes about three to four hours times, depending upon how far your hotel is located from the site. Since you will be starting before dawn, you will be able to return to your hotel by 8 or 8:30 am. The best part is that you can have about another hour of sleep and still catch up on your hotel-provided breakfast, before heading out to start your sightseeing for the day.

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What Are The Different Kinds of Flights Offered?

Hot air balloon tour Hot air balloon tour

The standard hot air balloon ride lasts between 45 minutes to an hour. The baskets can hold up to 16, 20, or 24 passengers, along with the flight captain. The price bracket of your hot air balloon flight will also cover the pickup and drop-off services from your hotel, the breakfast, and the snacks. 

Some of the companies will also offer you a high-end hot air balloon tour option, where you will get a longer flight time of around 75 minutes, and a smaller basket, which holds around 12 to 16 passengers. 

You can also book an exclusive option of a private hot air balloon tour with your close family or friends. On this private flight, the basket will fit the number of people according to your needs, and the flight time will be of 75 minutes.

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What Can You Expect To See In The Flight?

Hot air balloon experience in Cappadocia Hot air balloon experience in Cappadocia

When you embark on your journey in the giant hot air balloon, you can expect to fly over some truly majestic views. This will include the famous valley of networks of the Kızılçukur (Red) Valley, the Meskender Valley, the Gülludere (Rose) Valley, and the Love Valley, which will go between the picturesque Göreme and Çavusin villages.   

You will also fly over the lesser-known valleys that envelope the little village of Ortahisar with its elegant rock citadel or fly over the Pigeon Valley towards the hilly village of Uçhisar, crowned by a rock fortress. 

However, you must keep in mind that the path of your balloon flight may vary according to the direction of wind. But a major reason for which the hot air balloon experience in Cappadocia has gained extreme popularity is the favorable weather conditions of the region - this means that for most of the days you are guaranteed a flight over the most photogenic landscapes.

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What You Should Know Before Taking the Hot Air Balloon Ride

Hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia Hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia
  • Remember to wear closed shoes with flat soles for your hot air balloon ride. Since you will be required to hop on and off the balloon’s basket, it is not the best-suited activity for high heels or flip-flops. No matter at what time of the year you are flying, make sure to carry a jacket, jersey, or something warm and comfortable that you can wrap yourself in. The early dawns can get chilly in Cappadocia, and before you get onto your balloon, you will be required to wait outside for a while as the balloon inflates. 
  • Hot air ballooning is not suitable for children under the age of 6, and most reputable companies will refuse to permit them. For safety reasons, the balloon baskets have high sides. Any passenger under the height of 140 cm will not get a clear view over the basket sides.
  • There are more than 20 companies that offer hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia, with most of their head offices located in Göreme, Avanos, or Ürgüp. Booking your ride well in advance is well-recommended since it is a popular activity that gets filled up fast, particularly during the summer season. Most of the tourists book their flights at the same time as they book their hotels. 
  • While hot air ballooning is a year-round activity, bad weather conditions can lead to unplanned restrictions in the journey. While such circumstances are the most common during winter or early spring, they can also happen in the summer season. In case of such as scenario, the company will offer you a full refund, or simply reschedule it to the next day.

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Witnessing the Event From Land

Göreme Göreme

If you are planning to stay in Cappadocia for some time more, it is worthwhile to wake up early one more time - this time to witness the balloons taking flight from the ground and flying high over the valley. The best zone to witness this spectacle from is Göreme. 

Göreme has numerous beautiful boutique cave hotels that are carved right into a hill - from the terrace, you can get a picturesque view of the Red and Rose valleys. If you are planning to stay here, you simply need to walk up to your terrace, and you will get a splendid view of the balloons flying above!

An experience like no other, you simply cannot miss out on hot air ballooning in Cappadocia! So, pack your bags and head over to the valley of beautiful ridges and networks, there is simply no other tourist spot like Turkey!

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