The bus speeds ahead in the darkness, picking up people from different hotels. Most of us are groggy with sleep.
We are dropped off at the office of the hot air balloon company where breakfast is waiting for us. Later the crowd is divided into numbered groups and we are asked to get into buses which have the group number mentioned on them.
It is 5 am and the horizon is filled with balloons being prepared for flight. Loud hissing sounds are heard as the gas shoots out flames with an upward whoosh filling the balloons with hot air.
The crew from the balloon company work frantically, prepping up the balloons for today. Dawn is almost upon us and we can see a faint light in the background. We get off near the balloon that is getting prepped for us.
A huge and strong wicker basket is the base. A balloon the size of a truck or maybe bigger is held together by cables which are tied to the wicker basket. A gas burner shoots out flames in intervals creating the hot air inside the balloon so it stays inflated.
We enter inside the basket and take our places, there are folks from different nationalities with us. As we wait for our turn, we see several balloons slowly rising up in the air.
It is 10 mins and we have not yet taken off. It seems the pilot is waiting for someone. He is talking in a serious tone, over the walkie talkie.
After a few minutes we gradually start ascending, everyone cheers and claps around us. All of us are excited. For most of us it is the first hot air balloon experience.
The air is cool and crisp and the weather perfect for aerial viewing. The temperature is around 2 degrees on the ground as we rise above to warmer air.
We don’t go very high and seem to be hovering above the ground. We give questioning looks at the pilot. He is still talking in serious tones and waving at someone below.
I look down and unfolding before me is a magical sight.
She is dressed in the pristine bridal colour of white standing next to her groom. A crew of photographers are hovering around them, making them ready for the perfect shot.
So now I get it…there is a wedding photo shoot against the backdrop of the hot air balloons. Our balloon was the primary prop and that explained all the delay and hovering earlier 😊
We make a sudden swoop above the lovely couple who look up at us, with laughter and waves. We wave back to them cheering. I’m sure that would have made a great shot.
After a taking a few pictures at different angles and light, the photographer seems satisfied and radios our pilot to carry on.
We finally start ascending gradually over this ancient and outlandish land that makes Cappadocia valley worth a visit.
Several millennia ago volcanic eruptions over time have sculpted this region into a surreal and other worldly place.
Tall protruding structures have formed over time popularly known as the fairy chimneys. Gliding over the valley in a hot air balloon is the best way to appreciate these natural creations.
The sun starts peeking from behind the mountains and as Cappadocia awakens to another beautiful day, we see several balloons around us, dancing in the horizon.
The entire experience takes 2 hours from 6 am to 8am. After the ride is over champagne is offered to all guests along with certificates.
The bus drops us back to our hotel and we are very pleased with such a unique and beautiful start to our day.
The costs for the hot air balloon ride is steep at around EUR 180 per person, however the experience makes this a worthwhile spend 😊
How to Hot Air Balloon
- There are several companies in Cappadocia who offer this experience.
- The recommended ones are Royal Balloon and Voyager.
- They may ask you to share your credit card details if you contact them directly, which is strongly not recommended.
- You can ask you hotel instead to book this for you and pay by cash once you are in Cappadocia.
- It is very easy to book the hot air balloon as all end to end costs are covered, from hotel pick, breakfast, the ride, champagne and the drop back to the hotel.
- Go for the early morning ride to get clear views and a beautiful sunrise. The later rides may not guarantee this.
- This should be one of the ‘must do’ when in Cappadocia.
Take care of your memories for you cannot relive them – Bob Dylan