When we decided to take a detour and head down to Turkey, a country we are more than familiar with after visiting year upon year whilst growing up, we made a pact to tick off our bucket list dreams this time. Instead of just heading back down to the stunning beaches of the south coast of the country to see our family and friends we took a route of adventure and discovery. Taking in Istanbul and paragliding off a mountain along the way. But the most magical place, and one which at no point actually felt real, was Cappadocia. This alien world landscape in the middle of the desert captured our imagination like no other, and what better way to take it all in than floating in and above the dream like fairy chimneys of this lost world! Hot air balloon Cappadocia: A dream come true!
An Early Start
Of course, when you are chasing the sunrise you need to get up early!! A 3am alarm call isn’t exactly my idea of fun, but for this we could make an exception. Through my heavy eyelids I still couldn’t hide my excitement and also admitted nerves! But Voyager Balloons had everything planned, they contacted us the day before to say we would be picked up at precisely 4.05am. These guys run a well oiled machine, and like clockwork, their van was parked up outside our cave hostel and our adventure was just above to begin.
But it wasn’t straight toward the launch point just yet. Before we would be would be taking flight we called in at the Voyager headquarters in the centre of Goreme for some well received coffee and breakfast! Here we also went through all of the protocol and received our tickets.
Each day the launch spot is different to make the best use of out the wind and weather conditions. Today it was just a 15minute ride away and so we had plenty of time to wake up! Voyager makes sure that even with the necessary early starts everyone is full enough of coffee and food to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience to its fullest!
Floating over this surreal and out of this world landscape: A Hot Air Balloon over Cappadocia!
Arriving at our take off point our mixture of nerves and excitement began to build. One of the things that really stuck us what the size of the balloons, of course, we knew they would be quite large to pick up a basket of 10 people, but these things towered into the sky like I never imagined.
The morning was still dark and the light from the burners and the flames shooting inside the canopies illuminated the scene. As far as we could see balloons were being filled and several had already taken off. It seemed to go from preparation to us all running over and getting into the balloon so quickly, it was all super professional yet at the same time it had that air of a real adventure.
Taking off was simple and steady, we all jumped into our basket and before we knew it we were floating with gradual speed into the air. It was such a strange experience, being lifted with such grace in a completely vertical fashion was like nothing I’d felt before. It had expected that it would be somewhat bumpy and turbulent, but it was so peaceful.
In a matter of moments we were high in the sky, the chaos of the take off point, the shouting of the crews and the engines of the cars below were all gone. It was complete silence punctuated by the occasional burst from the burner. It has to be the most serene and peaceful experiences of our lives. Suddenly we were floating over the fairy chimneys we had explored the day before. The other balloons rising around us were like mushrooms floating up from this already surreal scene.
Hundreds of feet in the air we got the most amazing panoramic view of this most surreal landscape, it felt like we were floating above another planet. This fantastical fairtale like scenery that we travelled across was laid out before us.
The unique geology of this place and the otherworldly beauty of Cappadocia, that sits almost inexplicably in the middle of the Anatolian desert, was now even more stunningly unreal.
As the sun began to rise over the aptly named “Rose Valley” the whole lunaresque cream landscape lit up in innumerable shades of deep reds and subtle oranges. We began our journey through the ridges, over the towers and across the valleys of this unbelievable scene.
Our pilot had such control over the hot air balloon, it was a testament to his experience that he could give us such a wide breadth of views to take it. From flying so high above the ground, over 3000ft at one point, to grazing the tree tops at other points. We were able to at one point able to see the curvature of the earth we were so high.
Then at others we were floating peacefully though the valleys themselves, in between these strange and historic sandstone edifices. We could make out the details, the carved out pigeon holes and the centuries of wind carved ripples and peaks, even a rabbit running freely through this wild landscape.
After an hour in the sky, seeing the sunrise slowly above a landscape almost inexplicable in its beauty, unearthliness and heavenly appearance. We were ready to come back down to earth, in both body and mind. This once in a life time bucket list experience was coming to an end, and we were still pinching ourselves! Rather excitingly we had somewhat of a bumpy landing, having to brace ourselves as we bumped across the desert. But again, our pilot kept us safe!
Upon departing the basket we all celebrated what for all of us will be a day we never forget, a morning which will stay with us as one of our most spectacular. We popped the cork on the traditional champagne a little after 6am! What a way to start the day!
How to take this trip yourselves
There are many companies offering flights in Cappadocia but by far the most reliable and experienced is that of Voyager Balloons. Flying over 23,000 hours and carrying more than 196,000 passengers it is one of the most established balloon companies in the region and also one of the originals.
The balloon rides on offer differ in length and price:
The prices range from €150 to €500
Check them out here:
Is Turkey safe to visit?
When considering ticking this magnificent item off your bucket list the safety of this troubled country might cross your mind. But for us we saw no trouble despite travelling at a time when there were attacks, riots and coups. Yet these incidents despite media reports the likelihood of being caught up in anything like this is so unlikely that it seems silly to allow it to stop us realising some of our most amazing travel dreams. In our opinion if you allow terrorists to rule your decisions, to change your plans for them and to put your life and dreams on hold…then they win!
Turkey is safe, amazing and incredible. The people are freindly and approachable and depend on you visiting for their livelihoods. If you put off visiting the terrorists win twice and the hard working local people loose out, as do you!
I wrote a full post on this here: It Turkey safe to visit?
Where to stay in Goreme
Well, where else to stay over than in a cave? Much of the old caves and towers that characterise Goreme today are hotels and unique abodes. But you don’t need to break the bank to have the unique experience of sleeping in one of the traditional caves. The “Stay In Peace” hostel in the town is a great budget option and must be one of the worlds quirky hostels!
The hostel also has a lovely private room, which we decided to stay in as we were up early and staying in Turkey for free with family for the rest of our time in the country. The hostel provides a free breakfast and also great info and prices on Balloon rides, tours and advice.
Check them out here:
Hot Air Balloon Cappadocia: Have you ever taken this amazing trip?
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See more from our backpacking adventures:
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Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Voyager Balloons. As always, all opinions are our own!
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