Cappadocia (Central Turkey) owes its ethereal landscapes to several volcanos that were erupting some 62-65 mln years ago, creating a huge plateau. Then, the wind got down to business and created graceful shapes out of these volcanic rock formations. Now imagine this scenery from a bird’s eye view.
Hundreds of colorful balloons rise up almost every morning above Cappadocian valleys. With the first sign of the dawn the balloon takes off, while you still think it all is a part of your dream and you just became weightless.
Firstly, the balloons will reach the maximum altitude of about 1 km or so. By that moment the sun will have risen and the valleys will have appeared from the morning twilight. The beauty of the valleys has something oriental in it. It is both slightly sharp and insipid, but at the same time graceful and neat.
Then the pilot will take the basket a bit down manoeuving between cliffs and softly ‘kissing’ other balloons. A couple of years ago a pilot was showing his artisanship by almost parking the balloon on the top of our car. This final stage of the flight will take your breath away and finally wake you up from morning cloudlands.
The flight takes one hour but you will think it have been only a few minutes…Very few minutes of floating in the air without roaring of motor. What a romance!
WHAT ABOUT SAFETY?
For last several years the ballooning in Cappadocia has been controlled by the Ministry of Transportation, Directorate-General of Civil Aviation. This means the following: first of all, balloon companies need to receive a license, just like any airlines. Pilots receive both theoretical and practical education lasting for 18 months; the latter includes 250 hours of training flights.
Secondly, each morning the meteorological report is received and a flight dispatcher gives or gives no permission to take off. This excludes any amateur actions, while several years ago the decision was left to the pilots: the ‘brave’ one would take off and others were supposed to come alone.
HOW TO CHOOSE A BALLOON COMPANY?
There are plenty of companies and the flight rates also very different. The most expensive price does not guarantee perfect service. You will be offered to take a flight at any hotel. Do not hurry up and take a look around. Make sure you speak with the balloon company representative, not an agent, ask more about company, and learn if pilots speak English. Then, inquire about baskets. There can be a basket for 16 persons or for 32. I would not recommend the large one – it is like a flying bus! But of course it is a matter of your budget.
The flight rates fluctuate between 50-150 USD (200-500 TL). The cheaper one means the larger basket and the higher one means the smaller basket. I presume that during high season the prices may also increase (we were there in February). The fee includes transfer from the hotel, light breakfast, one-hour flight followed by symbolic bottle of champagne. We took a flight with Sky Way Balloons company and our experience was super positive. The pilot carefully instructed us about behavior in the basket and paid special attention to landing. ‘Driving’ and telling us about the places we pass, he indeed created a very warm and friendly atmosphere!
Thanks for reading and feel free to contact in case of any question.