Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey
Hot air ballooning should be on every traveller’s bucket list. Undoubtedly, there’s something magical about floating through the air in near silence: life far below with nothing but sky around you.
While travelling through Turkey after finishing university, I knew hot air ballooning in Cappadocia was the one adventurous activity I’d splurge on. Cappadocia was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 thanks to its bizarre rock formations that conceal a maze of ancient subterranean settlements and well-preserved Byzantine art.
On the morning of my balloon ride, I woke at 5:00am to darkness, got dressed, and tip-toed out of my hostel just as the morning call to prayer rang. A small bus was waiting. I found an empty seat amongst the other sleepy-eyed travellers and we set out for our first stop: breakfast. After a typical Turkish breakfast of tea, bread, cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, and olives, the crowd was divided into groups of 8 or so. Our flight team.
The sky was beginning to lighten but the sun hadn’t yet risen above the horizon as we climbed into the sturdy basket. We were soon to be one of 300 hot air balloons in the sky. I could feel our group’s collective excitement growing as we watched the first few balloons floating away from us.
Our pilot, a friendly Turkish man, warned us not to be alarmed by the strong sound of burning gas inflating our balloon. He was right, it was loud, but it held the promise of the sky. Within moments, the colourful balloon had inflated and we were floating upwards.
At first we stayed low, drifting through long valleys eroded into volcanic rock by wind and water over thousands of years. At times, we were so close to the edges of the valleys that I could have reached out to pick a tiny flower from the grass.
Then we flew higher, floating over the strangely shaped pillars, pinnacles, and chimneys that make Cappadocia so famous.
The string of sensations one feels high above the earth in a hot air balloon can only truly be understood through experience. Cappadocia has become world famous for its ballooning, but it’s not the only destination that lends itself to this incredible activity. There are endless locations around the world that offer balloon tours, such as the North Pole, the Serengeti, and the Alps. Though you may not even have to travel abroad to experience a balloon ride – tours are offered across North America.
Have you been hot air ballooning before? Where is your favourite place to go? Or where would you love to go if you had the opportunity? Let us know in the comments below!
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