If there is one thing that would let you see the perfect panoramic and landscape beauty of Cappadocia is to ride a hot air balloon. A hundred feet above is so magical yet so surreal, and the view differs depending on what season. Hot air balloon is popular in Cappadocia, most especially in the town of Göreme. Officially listed in 1985, The Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia are truly a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This has got to be the one splurge I have to do on this Turkey trip. It is very touristy and painful in the wallet (for me) but the euphoria and throw-back moment of pictures will forever linger. It was my first balloon ride and from start to finish, the staff and service of Royal Balloon are professional and friendly.
Looking down at a 360-degree view of Cappadocia, it’s like your looking at a new planet – strange rock formations, rock-cut temples and underground cities can be seen.
“I’m watching you watch over me
And I got the greatest view from here”.
– Daniel Johns
0430: Early Morning
Yes, that early to wake up! At 05:00 in the morning, a shuttle bus by the Royal Balloon had come and picked us up in our hotel. It was dark and cold November morning and we headed over the Royal Balloon Goreme headquarters and wait for the green signal. Hot air balloons fly on stable and light winds – they don’t fly under the rain and foggy weather. Only the Directorate General of Civil Aviation can give the go signal and all balloon companies must comply. They never take chances and safety is a priority.
The station is crowded and a “light” breakfast buffet and coffee was served for our morning fix. The pick-up and drop-off trip were all included in the payment of the balloon ride, and time schedule is subject to change depending on climatic conditions.
0600: Green Flag
It’s a green flag and boarding time. All of us (in groups) headed towards the designated launch site of our balloon ride. While the balloon was being inflated, the ground crew assisted us to board this huge basket made of wicker.
We took the Royal Balloon Royal Queen Flight which has a maximum of 16 passengers plus our certified pilot (King Flight has a maximum of 12 passengers). Space-wise, it was comfortable.
0630: Going Where the Wind Blows.
This is it! More than 100 registered balloons start to ascend and float to an altitude of about 3,000 feet. The morning sun starts to shine and lights up the clear blue sky as we take flight over the valley. It is an hour of bliss and a moment to behold from the air. The alien-like landscape and chimney-shaped rocks of Cappadocia are amazing and breathtaking. The splendor of a beautiful sunrise in Goreme.
Have a strong grip on your camera and phones and enjoy the view from above.
“Watching in slow motion
As you turn around and say
Take my breath away.”
– Giorgio Moroder & Tom Whitlock (1986)
0730: Champagne Toast
After an hour up in the sky, everything that goes up must come down. Using the air current at a different altitude, our seasoned pilot steers the balloon slowly and directly on a trailer.
It was a safe and smooth landing. The Royal Balloon ground crew are waiting for us to help bring the balloon down. Once deflated, the crew prepared us some snacks in the middle of Cappadocia. They served us champagne and cookies, chocolate-covered strawberries and a commemorative Royal Gold medal.
Our shuttle van arrived and straight away send us back to our hotel. Just in time for another breakfast. LOL!