Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia: An otherworldly experience

We had arrived in Goreme under darkness the night before, so the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia was going to be unveiled to us for the first time from above, in a hot air balloon. It was our first time in a hot air balloon, and we were rather excited.

A little nervous, perhaps, with the thought of a giant bubble of hot air taking us into the sky. But our concerns were thrown aside by Butterfly Balloons, arguably one of the best operators in Cappadocia – and that’s saying a lot, because there are literally dozens of balloon companies in the area. The whole experience with Butterfly Balloons was perfectly orchestrated – from the painfully early pickup of 4 am to the buffet breakfast, to piling us in vans according to balloon pilot, and finally the balloon flight itself.

hot air ballooning in cappadocia

Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia

The first fingers of light were beginning to illuminate the landscape as we arrived at the launch site near Goreme. All around us was the whooshing sound of balloons being inflated by huge fans and then by gas flame – a much noisier operation than I had envisaged.

hot air ballooning in cappadocia

Finally enough hot air was in our balloon and we were able to clamber inside the basket along with ten others. We gently rose into the sky amongst a rainbow of balloons, skippered by our pilot Fatih. The sight was truly something to behold. Shaun counted 103 balloons in the air with us that morning – a staggering number.

hot air ballooning in cappadocia

As daylight crept over the land we began to see why Cappadocia is one of the best places for hot air ballooning. Aside from the still morning air, perfect for the gentle ride, the terrain below was out of this world. This ancient volcanic landscape, with huge compressed ash deposits, has been eroded over millions of years to form the sculpted valleys and fairy chimneys of this wondrous place. It was truly delightful to float over the top of this land, a real treat for a geography nerd like me. It was like flying the drone, but better, as we were seeing it from above with our own eyes.

hot air ballooning in cappadocia

hot air ballooning in cappadocia

Fatih was an incredible pilot. He made our trip even more memorable by skilfully bringing the balloon down into valleys and then rising up out of them, literally metres above the tops of the chimneys. Cue squealing from some of the passengers on board. Now that must take some practice!

hot air ballooning in cappadocia

We drifted over the valleys and chimneys of Goreme and the surrounding area for over an hour. It was at the same time enthralling and peaceful. I wished we could have stayed in the air all day. All too soon, we were being told to assume the safe landing position (crouching inside the basket) and bump bump BUMP we skidded along the ground and the basket tipped on its side! What an exciting way to end our flight!

hot air ballooning in cappadocia

After being righted by the ground crew and disembarking we were treated to champagne with strawberries, rose petal confetti, and participation certificates. It was kind of corny but so well-meaning – we loved it.

hot air ballooning in cappadocia

Our balloon ride with Butterfly Balloons was a once in a lifetime experience and we wholeheartedly recommend it. I don’t say that lightly. We’ve been privileged to have many amazing experiences on our travels, but both of us agreed that this was right up there as one of the best things we have ever done.

If you find yourself in Turkey, go to Cappadocia. Go on a balloon ride. You won’t regret it.

Thanks to Butterfly Balloons for hosting us. As always, you’ll receive our honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.

Have you ever been in a hot air balloon? Would you do it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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