Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey
“Unless you’ve been living in a cave…” has become a saying which has lost some of its meaning to me after actually doing that in Cappadocia recently and knowing some of my new friends actually live in caves full-time. However I will use this saying now anyway and say that unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few months you have probably heard about the hot air balloon disaster in Egypt which resulted in the deaths of a balloon full of tourists.
Now this is was a terrible accident and Egypt’s tourism will probably suffer for some time as a result of this, hell I would have thought hot air ballooning as a whole would suffer for some time but it appears not. We had ourselves questioned whether to go ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey especially since our experience in Luxor, Egypt was more than a little hairy. Find our all about that in my post Don’t be afraid to visit Egypt.
After thinking long and hard about whether to hop into another balloon and be at the mercy of the pilot and mother nature, we decided to go ahead with it, largely due to a couple we met in Jordan who told us how good the pilots in Cappadocia are.
Still sceptical yet knowing it is the best way to see the unique formations of Cappadocia we jumped into the basket once more. About twenty minutes later Jen and I were sure we would die as our balloon headed almost at ground level toward a large rock chimney. “This is it!” I thought as we drew closer and closer until, seconds away we shot into the air as if drawn by a large buggy cord. We had made it! Just meters above the pointed rock.
The cocky pilot repeated this nerve racking performance a few more times, all the while making sure he did not hit the other eighty-six (Jen counted) other balloons. By the time we were ready to land we had seen the entire region both from a distance and up closer than we anticipated but it was time for one more trick. I had not really believed Christian when he had told me, but here we were lining up for the same thing. The pilot slowed the balloon and a team in a 4×4 with a trailer attached positioned themselves. Then with such precision and a little help from the crew the pilot landed right on the trailer! We couldn’t believe it, especially since our Luxor ride saw us hit both a building and a palm tree before landing in a farmers field minus one support crew!
It was the safest balloon ride in history, Cappadocia that is. All my fears or concerns about ballooning again have since gone and at least in Cappadocia I can say, you will be in safe hands. The pilots all have radios both to each other and to their ground crew and although they give you a thrilling ride, it is obvious they have the experience to back it up.
There are heaps of ballooning companies in Cappadocia and I’m sure they are all good but the one we went with was Goreme Balloons. Most companies charge between 100-200 Euros and provided the weather is good they fly every morning at sunrise. Also a big shout out to our pilot Mustafa Kara for scaring the crap out of me but returning me safely to solid ground!