A hundred colourful balloons adorned seemingly every image of Cappadocia and Goreme that we had seen prior to our arrival. Having never been ourselves we looked into it a little and read that the price was around 150EUR per person – a little pricey for our budget at the time. We stayed at Kaya Camping who turned out to have their own hot air ballooning company. Due to the total lack of tourists (we were the only people at the campsite!) they offered us the sunrise balloon trip for just 100EUR each including transport to and from, breakfast and ‘champagne’ at the end. A quick check on trip advisor flagged the company as one of the most highly rated so we handed over the cash and excitedly waited for the next morning. By the time 5am rolled around, we were ready and waiting in the pitch dark outside the campsite. By 6 we’d had breakfast and a short 5 minutes more driving we arrived at the launch site. Excitement was high and everywhere we looked, another floppy balloon was starting to take shape.
When it was time to board there was some serious shuffling going on to make sure the weight was evenly distributed. You have to climb into the basket so it wasn’t easy for the elderly couple who came along and had to pretty much be lifted in and out. We were twenty people all together in our balloon, including the friendly pilot who happily explained everything, then re-explained it to us plebs who can only speak English.
Generally, neither Rich nor I like heights but I have to say, the balloon was the smoothest flight I’ve ever been on. The moment we began to lift off the ground was surreal. The huge basket full of people began to casually and silently drag across the ground before ascending millimetre by millimetre. We cruised along, no more than a meter off the ground, drifting around shrubs and small trees before gradually grazing their tops.
It was utterly spectacular. Everyone was grinning from ear to ear from the sheer beauty of what we were all experiencing. We reached an altitude of 600 meters before descending to sweep through the valleys where we spotted cave entrances carved into the rocks.
After around an hour, we descended further and searched for a good place to land. The pilot chose a soft dusty field and the trucks could be seen in the distance, tracking us with their trailers.
Three guys literally caught us with a rope and pulled us towards the trailer. We landed softly on the dust and stayed in the basket while the pilot skillfully did his epic fire thing and lifted us just a few inches off the ground, enough for us to land actually on the back of the trailer. Amazing! Everyone in the balloon commented on how amazing the experience was and I for one could have definitely gone again immediately! This banana also enjoyed the flight, and the ride home. What else could you possibly need to take on a hot air balloon more than a banana?…
I have to say, as far as pre-sunrise activities go, drifting around in a hot air balloon was way less strenuous than our climb up Mt. Batur in Indonesia a few years ago! It was equally rewarding, only marginally more expensive and our next flight can’t come soon enough.