Balloons in Cappadocia are one of the best experiences in Turkey. It really does not matter whether you have an experience in hot air balloon flight or not, everything is very simple.
The wake-up call is before dawn, still in the dark, because you will have the best experience seeing the dawn in the balloon. During the high peak season there are several daily balloon departures. That means there are more than two thousand people in the air per day. This number reveals a lot about security. Large number of companies worry about security. Before the lift off, you get brief instructions on how to behave during flight, landing and in the case of an accident. Organizers offer breakfast service before the flight at the meeting point.
The prices vary and depend on the level of the service. The basic price is $100 per person and it includes a transfer from the hotel, a bagel and a coffee – additional to a place in the balloon basket of 28 people maximum capacity. The flight lasts for about 45 minutes. The higher the price, the service is more luxurious: the flight lasts longer (up to an hour and a half), the breakfast is of better quality (some even offer it in the balloon during the flight), the baskets are of smaller capacity (they can be for no more than four people) and the impression of luxury intensifies.
The flight itself is really something special. Alongside the occasional burst of the fire that warms the air, the balloon slides around the unique geological formations of the Cappadocia rocks. The landscape changes colour as the sun rises, creating an impression of cartoon like paint spilling on blank paper. The flight in hot air balloons in Cappadocia is an experience worth waking up for early and, I have to admit, freezing at an altitude of 600 meters. However, you should also be aware of weather risks. During the period of strong winds or rain, the balloons do not fly. It took me three mornings to finally lift off into the air.
Many travellers have heard of Cappadocia. For those who have not visited it yet, but want to, I can confirm through my experience of this fall of 2017, that the journey is safe and that there are no suspicious situations, aggression or anything that might make passengers feel unsafe. There are quite many tourists in the area actually. Mostly Asians. Amongst European languages that can be heard, German and French are predominant.
By plane, Cappadocia is reached by Turkish airlines connecting through Istanbul. Return flight tickets are about 300€. From Istanbul, you fly to Nevsehir or Kayseri. Transfer from there to hotels in the towns of Goreme, Ortahisar, Urgup or any other is 5€ or 10€ per person. The best season to visit is spring and fall. Summers are hot and crowded, and winter is cold. Good accommodation costs about 50€ per person with breakfast included.
I slept three nights at the Dream’s Cave Hotel in Ortahisar. Goreme is a central tourist resort where every house is a bar or a grocery store. Ortahisar is a more peaceful, autochthonous place where people still live normal lives. The hotel owner is Rifat Sevdik, from Sandžak, who speaks a beautiful archaic language that could simplistically be described as Bosnian. He is very helpful and can arrange all activities, transfers and hot air balloon rides.
All in all, balloons in Cappadocia are an experience for the highest recommendation.