For a long time, I dreamed of flying with the hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. But I was never fully prepared because there was also the fear of being disappointed by having too big expectations. It happened, eventually, when I visited Turkey for two weeks. Among other destinations and tourist attractions, Cappadocia was added to my itinerary. After all, it was on my bucket list for a very long time.
About the time spent there, but also about the gorgeous hotel we stayed at, Sofa Hotel, I already blogged in two separate articles. The only thing left, regarding Cappadocia, was to talk about the main purpose of my visit. The hot air balloon ride was the experience that made me put Cappadocia at the top of the most beautiful places I have visited so far. Even if it became so popular, thanks to loads of balloon photos on Instagram, the fame is justified. And I can say that even the most beautiful picture cannot describe the amazing sensation you have up in the air.
In this article, I will explain everything that involves such an experience, what are the things you should expect, but also what precautions you must take in order to make sure that everything will go according to your expectations or even above them.
All you need to know about hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia
Why is the ride so special in Cappadocia
The main reason why Cappadocia is the perfect place for this activity is the spectacular relief that resembles the one on the Moon and is splendidly seen from the hot air balloon. The landscapes with the fairy chimneys, carved by rains and winds, attract the tourists like a magnet. Other places in the world where you can fly with the balloon are Sedona, Arizona (USA), Bagan (Myanmar), Napa Valley (California), Tanzania. And a few others, but Cappadocia remains in the top.
⇒ Also read: Top 15 places to visit in Cappadocia, Turkey.
The best time to go there
Regardless of the time of the year, even in the cold, snowy season, hot air balloon rides are taking place in Cappadocia. The only variable is given by the weather conditions of each day. If the winds are not too strong, there are no precipitations or other meteorological phenomena that could endanger the safety of passengers, then the flight will definitely take place.
Given that the weather is not always predictable, I recommend you stay at least 2 days in Cappadocia. Schedule the activity in the first one, to be able to postpone it just in case. If you want some thermal comfort, the best months to go are April-June and September-October. You have to keep in mind that at high altitudes, where the balloon flies, it’s a little bit colder. Also, something to consider is that the flight takes place early in the morning. I visited at the end of August, wearing a long, but thin overalls and it felt a bit cold. Therefore, you should add a cardigan to your outfit.
⇒ Find all: hotels in Cappadocia.
How to choose the company
Cappadocia has developed a real deal based on hot-air ballooning. That’s because the popularity of the business has led the locals to invest heavily. This means that you will have to choose a company of the dozens available. Won’t recommend you one in particular because, in my case, it wasn’t exactly a choice. We had to go with the only company that still had two places available.
I made the mistake of going to Cappadocia during a very big holiday for Muslims without having a flight reserved in advance, so I made some effort to find a one. I was fortunate enough to find one eventually, but I recommend you to make sure you have the flight booked before arriving there, especially if you are in a high-flowing tourist period. You may also ask the hotel you are staying at if they offer rides with the balloon or if they work with such a company.
I suggest you make a list of the best companies on Tripadvisor, and then chose the best for you, based on a number of criteria. You should consider: their experience, number of seats in the cart, flight types and duration, price, but also other facilities offered, such as breakfast, for example.
To figure out an overview, you must know that a flight can last between 45 minutes and 2 hours, and a balloon can support from 2 to 24 passengers. Of course, the more comfortable and longer the flight, the higher the price. And if we are still in the price chapter, it also varies depending on the season. You can pay from 100 € to 300 €. My flight cost 135 €, for example.
At what altitude they fly
Altitude is closely related to the direction and speed of the winds of each day. Don’t worry, generally, no balloon goes more up than 1 kilometer. During the ride, you will notice that the altitude constantly changes. At some point, you will feel that the balloon is landing. Two minutes later, is at the highest point and gives you incredible, unforgettable views.
How safe is the flight
Given that balloon flights are weather-dependent, there is, of course, a risk of accidents. According to statistics, less than 10 such incidents have happened in the last 10 years of hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia, in which people have lost their lives or been injured. Knowing that at least 100 balloons a day rise up in Cappadocia’s sky, that means 10 accidents have occurred in about 350,000 rides. Obviously, statistics are on our side and show that the chance of an accident happening is extremely low. Therefore, it all depends on you and the risk that you are willing to take to live this unique experience.
Moreover, pilots are more and more experienced and certified than ever, and the measures taken are extremely cautious. Another advantage is the frequent change of the balloons. This way, they don’t have time to wear out and jeopardize the safety of the passengers. Each balloon is deactivated after 1000 flight hours, ie about 4 years.
My hot air balloon experience
I don’t know if all companies operate exactly the same way so I will tell you strictly based on my own experience. In the morning, well before sunrise, around 4 o’clock, a car will pick you up and drive you to a meeting place in Goreme. Here, you will be grouped. The number of people in a group depends on the capacity of the balloon for which they booked the ride. Also in the same building, you will serve a short breakfast that differs from company to company. Generally, it is made up of pastries and coffee. After all, who can eat more than that at 4 in the morning?
About 5 o’clock, you will get to the place where the balloons take off. Not all take off from the same place but are scattered over a radius of about 2 km. So that the sky is filled with colored balloons. In the darkness of the very early morning, everything you will see will be due to the flame that raises the balloons and produces little light around them. A lot of balloons lying on the ground and ready to be raised. The atmosphere is special even from the ground, but what you will live in height will be unique and unforgettable. Around 100 balloons fly every morning in the sky of Cappadocia. It’s surreal!
Even if it sounds selfish and maybe it is, I advise you to try to be among the first people to get inside the balloon. And choose a place in the corner of the basket. Thus, you will have a wider angle of the panorama to enjoy. Bouncing into the balloon is very simple because it has some holes in which to put your foot. Depending on its capacity, the balloon can be divided into several compartments, and the pilot will sit in the middle.
All you have to do now is to enjoy the experience. You will love it, I guarantee! The ride is at least as beautiful as it is praised and the feeling is extraordinary. You will fly over Cappadocia’s main attractions. I listed them all in the article “15 places to visit in Cappadocia“, so I will not insist on them now.
The landing is quite smooth and is usually done directly on the car’s platform. If you follow the pilot’s instructions, everything should be okay, with no incident. Every flight attendee is rewarded with a diploma or medal at the end and will celebrate with a glass of champagne.