Sunrise in Cappadocia

While in Turkey and on transit to neighbouring Iran, my visa process took a while so had some extra time. So I decided to see famous Cappadocia south-east from capital Ankara. Skies are cloudless and mild winds so common during the summer, that whole hot air balloon industry has grown to take advantage of it. Views were just as one might expect, beyond words!

Every morning there are tens of balloons all going air around same time

I been sleeping in cave rooms all my time in Göreme, small town in centre of Cappadocia. Caves are relatively easy to carve and a local curiosity. They have been carved here since the pre-historic times, churches, even underground cities! Cave rooms are plentiful enough that budget options to sleep in are available. Better ones offer same comforts as normal well equipped hotel room. Rock walls are emitting pleasant cool now in the hottest summer months. After resisting the balloon urge for few days, and watching others going, I finally walked to one of agents and bought a ticket for next morning. Ticket prices during my stay (peak season) ranged between 100 and 150 Euros. Standard size basket takes around 20 persons. Biggest can take full bus load, well over thirty! (competition for best photos can become quite an elbowing contest).

Cave room in Göreme, Cappadocia

Cavemen wake early. Still in dark around 4.30am, Anatolian air is cool but dry; desertlike. We left to balloon takeoff site and preparations were already well under way. In 20 minutes our balloon was in full bloom and we the passengers were loaded up to basket.

Clear cloudless sky greeted us as day opened

Cappadocian landscape is spectacular moonlike canyons and cliff formations. Its origins with volcanic activity millions of years ago, and strong erosion that has carved soft lava rocks

In the air balloon levitates like a feather, up and down depending how much heat pilot adjust into its massive cavity. Balloon can be turned by using air flaps in its body and obviously progresses in direction of wind.

Uchisar, one of small towns seen from air

Our pilot controlling burners

Am quite tall guy and basket didn’t have too much head room for me. When pilot released all four burners simultaneously, I silently thanked myself of having a short hair! Otherwise it might have been cartoon-like sight when leaving the basket, a black smouldering mess top of my head 🙂

Passengers mainly focus taking photos of spectacular postcard views: canyons coloured by early morning light, other balloons in horizon making small solar eclipses with the rising sun, and ofcourse: the selfies.

Flight takes about 1-1.5 hours but time really goes fast because continuous stream of things to see. Finally it was time to finish the flight and come back on ground.

Evening walk to Uchisar castle. Highest point in the region and great for sunsets. Standing on top of hill, there is better time (compared to balloon) to study the canyons and how water has carved them

Edit in March 2017. Not all hot air balloon trips end well, although accident rate is low. Here’s link to story by Turkish newspaper of day when strong winds caused crash landings and injuries.