When booking our recent trip to Turkey I was over the moon when I discovered that Cappadocia was on the itinerary and I was keen to tick off something else this year from my travel bucket list. Cappadocia can be best described as a magical place that the world forgot about and a place where everything looks like a fairy-tale.Having wanted to always experience a Hot Air Balloon , I instantly knew that this was what I wanted to experience in Cappadocia and Mum had said that this would be my birthday present as I celebrated a rather special birthday earlier this year and there was no way for once I was going to insist no I did not want this gift.
Where is Cappadocia ?
It is a popular tourist destination in Turkey for it’s unique historical, geographical and cultural features. And is 730km away from Istanbul.There are four main touristy areas in Cappadocia which include Nevsehir, Kayseri, Aksaray and Nigde.The Hot Air Balloon experience happens in Goreme.Our journey to Cappadocia started from Istanbul by coach stopping for an overnight stay in Ankara.I would suggest flying to Cappadocia there are two airports close by in the cities of Kayseri and Nevsehir and that is what we did on the return journey to Istanbul.
On arrival to Cappadocia everything seemed so unreal looking at the rock formations and especially as our lunch venue was carved into a mountain. Cave hotels can be found all over the area. So it is advisable to spend three to four days here and I will explain later on why. As we were on a group tour with https://www.onestoptours.co.za/ in conjunction with Fez Travel in Turkey who were our guides, our Hot Air Balloon experience was arranged through our guide Goksu but there are so many operators that fly that it is often advisable to speak to the hotel you are staying at for the provider they work with. Bookings need to be made in advance.
So as much as I was so excited to have this Hot Air Balloon experience , I was rather nervous about a few things and let me explain why :
- I am afraid of heights YES , but this was something I really wanted to do so I had to mentally prepare myself for doing this experience and I was doing this with my Mum who originally had no intention of doing this but I had convinced here and there I was a ball of nerves.
- As a plus size woman , I am always conscious of not been able to do certain things and how others would react to me falling over or struggling to get in and out of things. And this often means I do not do certain things.
The night before I was a complete bag of nerves and even went to bed much earlier trying to control my anxiety as I already knew that getting in and out the balloon basket would be a problem as I would have to climb in over the top of the basket. And it does not help matters that I have short legs.That evening I prepared what I would wear that morning and opted for jeans , sneakers , a long sleeve top and a cardigan as it would be rather cold that early part of the morning. As for my bag I carried a small sling bag to keep my phone in , a few cough sweets as I was down with a cold and a few lira notes for tipping, luckily I had thought about this as many people did not carry money to tip the team. I ordered a morning wake up call for 4am as we needed to be ready in reception for 4:45am to leave but due to my anxiety I was up from 3am.It was bitingly cold and dark outside as we made our way to the taxis waiting to take us on our adventure of a lifetime.
As we drove the landscape started to change and behind us where all the hotels in front of us all we could see was the beautiful landscape as dawn was breaking. On approaching the Hot Air Balloon launch site we all oohed and ahhed as we saw hundreds off balloons everywhere all waiting to be blown up and these huge flames before us but nothing could really prepare us for what we would experience later on that sunrise. I could not stop taking photos of the beauty around me and for a few minutes my nerves seemed to have calmed down. The Hot Air Balloon company we were using was Kapadokya Balloons and I was so impressed with their help and service that I would defo recommend them to any of my readers. It’s also important to note that hot air balloons are controlled by the Turkish Civil Aviation Centre (CAA), not the hot air balloon companies. The CAA decides when the weather will permit the hot air balloon flights each morning. Summer months of June through August are reported to have the fewest cancellations. While chatting to our guide and guys from the balloon company they told us we were very lucky as the flights for the last couple of days were cancelled, and that is why it is advisable to stay 3 to 4 days in Cappadoccia so that incase this happens your flight can be rescheduled.
We paid for the standard package and the following was included for our Hot Air Balloon Experience:
COST : 100 EURO
- transfer guests from their respective hotels to our office.
- pilots pick the best take-off spots with regard to weather conditions, guests finish the check-in formalities and enjoy their hot drinks and cookies.
- We transfer our guests to the selected take-off place. The pilots deliver detailed information on technical details of the flight, conditions and safety measures before take-off.
- The balloons rise between 5-1000 meters above the ground depending on flight conditions. Guests will fly gracefully above beautiful valleys and spectacular fairy chimneys. No flights are identical as balloons follow the course of the wind.
- The flight takes between 45-65 minutes. Larger baskets are used which carry 16-20 passengers.
Guests will enjoy a traditional ceremony after landing. They can drink a champagne cocktail or fresh juice, eat cake, chat with pilots or take pictures next to the basket, which is decorated with fresh flowers. We also provide each guest a flight certificate that is issued in their name as a reminder of this unmatched adventure.
- Full passenger insurance
- Snacks and beverage service before the flight
- Minimum flight time of 45 to 65 minutes
- Champagne party after the flight
- Flight certificate
Reservation & Cancellation:
- prices include VAT.
- Payments with Visa/MasterCard/Amex and cash in foreign currency are accepted.
- As the availability of flights are totally dependent on weather conditions, your credit card information is recorded to reserve your place, but the due amount is not charged to your card.
- In case flights are cancelled, guests will receive a full refund.
- If you would like to cancel your flight you will need to inform us 48 hours before the flight. Otherwise, the full flight cost will be charged.
The balloon we were using was for twenty people and was divided into four baskets, mum and I were the last people to get in as I wanted to help mum in and I was so nervous about how I would actually get in myself. The two guys from the company could sense my discomfort and before I could finish saying I needed a stool or ladder like magic a weird one appeared and I got in.A few deep sighs, while I listened to the safety instructions and we were ready to fly. I was glad that I had invested in a phone ring so I was able to hold onto my phone more securely as we fly through the sky of magic.
And just like that we flew into the beautiful sunrise amongst hundreds of beautiful and colourful hot air balloons. There is really no words to describe the magic of this moment and with the magic my anxiety had gone and besides taking some amazing photos I just lived in the moment and breathed in the magic that is the Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon magic. Our pilot was well experienced and took us low into the valleys and high up above the other balloons , I captured some amazing shots but most of all I got to share this experience with my mum and forget about my issues. An hour into our Hot Air Balloon experience it was time to land.Our pilot was on his radio to the ground team but lil did we realise why. As our balloon prepared to descend my anxiety returned about how I would get out of the Hot Air Balloon. All around us the balloons seemed to be deflating like the most beautiful tents onto the ground or so I thought. And then things got a lil crazy as we got closer to the ground and landed onto the trailer of a van. Such precision and no sudden movements just a perfect landing in a trailer. Now my anxiety heightened as the trailer was much higher and how would I get off, so like a good soul I helped others over who where then literally carried over the basket by the two guys who had helped me in. Now let me tell you that these guys are fairly young and skinny built so you can imagine my anxiety about them trying to carry me out and the embarrassment if I could not get out of the basket. To my utter amazement they were both cool and calm and tried to calm me down and simply asked me to climb the first rungs of the basket from the inside and put my leg over then then both asked me to put each arm around their necks and they safely and almost effortlessly helped/carried me out. I was so impressed by these guys and how helping me in and out was no problem at all that I left them a relatively large tip as they had saved my dignity and not made me being overweight an issue.
Once we all we safely out the basket a beautifully set up table with some bubbly and cookies were set up for us we defo need the sugar after the adrenalin we all had felt up in the sky. And just like that the Hot Air Balloons were deflated packed away and we were whisked back to our hotel and the world was just staring to wake up their slumber. It was rather difficult to comprehend that I had just ticked off something from my Bucket list , experience so much magic and kept my anxiety in check and it was only 8am.
If you ever find yourself travelling to Turkey , make sure you add Cappadocia on your itinerary and spend three days there and YES go on a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia or else you will regret it.
Be Inspired !