Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hot Air Ballooning over Cappadocia, Turkey

Yay! I finally did it! Hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia - CHECK!

While planning for my Turkey trip, this was one of the things that got me really psyched. I knew it was not exactly cheap and also there was the safety concern lingering in my head, but when I got to Cappadocia, I knew there's no way I could say no.
I just had to do it.

I had so many questions before the flight and was extremely eager to see how everything worked. The day before the flight, I spoke with fellow travellers who'd done it earlier, asking about their experience and checking out their photos. Everyone was telling me what a fantastic experience it was and how it was well worth waking up in the wee hours for.

So here's my own experience!

We were picked up from our hotel at about 5.30am (the plan was to catch the sunrise). First, we were taken to a 'holding area' where everyone could have some light breakfast and also wait for the supervising pilot to advise on the wind conditions. Once he deemed the conditions to be fit for flying (which took close to an hour and we missed the sunrise *sob*), everyone was split into groups of 10 - 20 and ushered off to vans where we will be driven to the take-off site.

Once at the take-off site, this was when the excitement began! Our balloon was already getting partially inflated by the crew and the wicker basket was laying on its side. With a few more blasts from the burner, our balloon slowly rose bringing the basket to the upright position, and it was ready for boarding!

In we clambered (yes it can be rather awkward) into the 'giant picnic hamper'. After further safety briefing by our pilot, the balloon started to ascend slowly. It was incredibly smooth and quiet. The ascension seemed so effortless, as if the basket full of people was weightless!

As we drifted further up into the calm sky, we could see all the other balloons around us, some lifting off, some still grounded, and others way above us! The sight was just breathtaking and almost surreal!

High up there, I didn't feel cold nor nervous as I thought I would. The whole time I was just busy snapping pictures, just like everyone else.

We glided over mountains and valleys, getting a bird's eye view over the dramatic and gorgeous landscape of Cappadocia. It was like getting a teaser of my Cappadocia tour - which I will be exploring on foot, on the ground later in the day!

Throughout the flight, our female pilot was sharing information about balloon flying and about Cappadocia in general. She was also constantly checking wind directions and navigating the balloon accordingly.

The flight lasted for about an hour and as soon as I started to notice other balloons descending, it was our turn as well. The pilot would communicate with the ground crew using a walkie talkie and determine the landing spot in advance.

As we gradually descend closer and closer to the ground, something amazing happened. Our pilot managed to land the basket snuggly right onto the trailer that was supposed to stow it away. It was a perfect landing! No bump was felt at all!

Looking up at the balloon, I was wondering if it was just going to collapse and fall over our heads if we don't get out soon enough. Thankfully that didn't happen.

Once the basket was securely grounded, everyone started climbing out of the basket. At the same time, the hot air was released through the parachute valve, deflating the balloon s-l-o-w-l-y.

Once everyone was out of the basket, it was time for the customary champagne popping ceremony. We also received certificates for our 'bravery'.

While we were happily clinking champagne glasses, these men were busy packing away the equipment. They sure made the job look really easy!

Having done it at last, I'd say there's no regrets at all. It felt completely safe (thanks to the skillful piloting) and worth every cent! Definitely an unforgettable experience. I'm a happy camper!


  1. This looks so amazing! I've wanted to ride in a hot air balloon ever since I wrote a report on them in elementary school :-) And sometimes, hot air ballons float over my little village in France, which is always the best sight ever!
    One day... one day...

  2. Oh wow, you're so lucky to be able to see balloons floating over where u live!! Yes I hope you will get on it one day soon! It's almost magical :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails