Hot Air Balloon Ride over Cappadocia in Winter
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Cappadocia, Turkey is the best location in the world to take a hot air balloon ride. With its fairy chimney landscapes, cave house, underground cities and valleys, a trip to the Cappadocia region make one feel as if they are walking into a farytale.
Cappadocia’s unique landscape
The moon-like landscape in Cappadocia is the main feature attracts millions of visitors each year. The formation of such a unique appearance can be traced back millions of years ago when the three large volcanos surrounding Cappadocia erupted and left a layer of soft rock tufa and basalt. Over the years, the wind, rain, and sand has gone into the tufa rock and has begun eroding them, but the basalt has provided protection for the tufa layer and has slowed down the erosion. This process has created fairy chimney rock formations, huge plateaus, and valleys extended for hundreds of miles.
As a result of the usual formations in the region, Cappadocia is definitely a spectacular sight to appreciate from the air through a balloon ride during the sunrise. Though it is quite an adventure to being in Cappadocia in the winter, while snows are thick and temperatures are low, the entire experience makes up for it.
If you wonder what it is like to take a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia in winter, here is my experience and things you need to know.
Related articles that will help you plan your travels to Turkey:
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- Ani – A Forgotten Ancient Capital of Armenia in Eastern Turkey
- Lake Çıldır – The Largest Freshwater Lake in Turkey’s East Anatolia
How to book hot air balloon trip and the price
The hot air balloon flight is available to book year round, and the cost ranges from 90 to 160 euros for an hour’s ride. The price of the hot air ballooning includes the pick up from and the drop off to your hotel, a breakfast buffet, the post-flight champagne celebration, and the insurance.
You have the options of booking through your hotel, through an agent, and on the company’s official website. I suggest that you book early and compare the prices from different sources. I booked with Royal Balloon through my hotel and it cost 140 euros for an hour’s flight. Another traveler I met during the same ride only paid 100 euros by booking directly with the company.
There are 90 minutes deluxe flight for 210 euros, but from my experience, an hour is enough to experience the unique landscape of Cappadocia.
In a hurry? You can also compare the prices and book your hot air balloon flight online here.
I was picked up from my hotel at 6:25 am. We drove through the highways and windy streets of Ortahisar and picked up another group of people on the way. We were then taken to the Royal Balloon headquarters, welcomed with Turkish breakfast spread, and were told to get ready by 7:15 am.
We sat down in the dining area and rushed through breakfast. Royal Balloon always put their customers’ safety as their top priority, and they will not fly if the weather conditions are not in our favor. So I was not surprised when we did not receive confirmation until 8 am. It means that we would miss part of the sunrise but at least our balloon tour was not canceled.
We were then lead out to the van and driven to the balloon launch site. It was already daylight. The balloon and basket were laid out on the ground and a person started filling the gas in the part of the balloon with fire. Then the balloon started rising like a giant about to stand up and took us into the sky. It was thrilling to watch.
We climbed into our balloon basket that was divided into five compartments, where our pilot was in the middle operating the balloon. I got in last so I was crammed into a corner where the view was available on both sides. I shared a compartment with three other adults and a kid, but I was too excited to care about being crammed into such a small space.
Hot air balloon ride in winter
Our balloon finally took off and lifted us into the air. I did not feel lots of momentum when we left the ground. I was amazed by the 180-degree view of Cappadocia from above. I saw the Red Valley and Love on a jeep tour but nothing can compare to seeing the unique topography of Cappadocia from the air.
Taking the hot air balloon also gave me an opportunity to understand more of the geography of this region. Our pilot was not only flying the balloon, but he talked us through the points of interest we were about to see at the same time. He pointed at Goreme, showed us the stones that were used to build the houses in the area, and the houses, and the different valleys and sand formations we flew through. We also saw the road and the cars as if they were on a zoomed-in version of a satellite map.
It was mid-January. The temperature was -17 degree Celsius and the snow was heavy, but it was not that it was miserable and you could not see much. On the contrary, winter turned Cappadocia into a wonderland. We saw the special formations and Rose Valley, Zelve Valley, and Love Valley exposed in white and a slightly tanned color. With the unusual geographical patterns, the vista was particularly captivating.
There were another 100 colorful balloons floating around us; creating a kaleidoscope of colors under the cloud-free sky. Some rose to 700 meters high while others slowly dipped into the valley. It was magical.
I also liked the serenity it brings. Cappadocia is touristy but when we were on the balloon, everything felt like a world away. It was just me, and the small group of people in the same basket gliding around, as if we were the only ones in the region. I loved every second of it and did not want the ride to end.
Landing and champagne celebration
Eventually, our balloon landed on the trailer, and we climbed out of the basket after the balloon made a solid touch to the ground. The picnic table was already set up for us. We had a champagne celebration with juice and snacks. The group cheered while the pilot popped open the champagne bottle. Our pilot said that he did not like paper certifications, so he decided to award us with Royal Balloon gold metals that we can keep for our memories.
Tips for hot air ballooning in winter
-Dress warmly for the cold weather. It is normal for the temperature in Cappadocia to drop below -15 Celsius.
-You do not need to bring too many things for the balloon ride, but make sure to bring your photography equipment and money to pay for the tour during breakfast time.
-Get in last but do not horde your spot. You will have views of both sides if you are the last one to get into the basket, but we all walked around and helped each other to take pictures. Actually, there is no need to spend lots of time taking pictures, as the view is beautiful but similar.
-Make sure to spend two to three days in Cappadocia just in case the balloon tour is delayed or canceled. It will also give you enough time to experience other highlights of the region.
– Even through winter gets really cold, the appealing and bizarre landscape is totally worth a visit. You can see a plethora of fairy chimney and valleys covered in the snowy white, and a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia offers an unforgettable experience in Turkey for nature and adventure lovers.
-The balloon ride is expensive, but it is an incredible experience everyone coming to Cappadocia should have. There are hotels in Goreme that offer their guests an opportunity to watch the balloons on the terrace, but nothing beats the experience of being in the balloon yourself.
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