Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon: All The Secrets You Need To Know
Is seeing the stunning fairy chimneys and cave dwellings of Cappadocia from a bird’s eye perspective on your travel wish list?
Then this guide is everything you need to know about hot air ballooning over this incredible region of Turkey!
Here you’ll find every detail of the flight and preparation. You can read all the secrets that nobody tells you beforehand. And you can learn what exactly you can expect from a Cappadocia hot air balloon ride without any exaggeration.
Is it true that you can fly all year round? Why are there different prices for seemingly the same tour? Is the experience always the same?
These are all the nifty details about hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey that nobody talks about…
Where Is Cappadocia And Why Is It So Popular For Hot Air Balloon Rides?
Cappadocia is the area between the towns of Avanos, Nevşehir, and Ürgüp in Central Turkey. The most famous town in the region is Göreme, situated roughly in the centre of the phenomenal landscape.
Tip: Göreme is easily reachable from the Turkish capital and from the Mediterranean seaside. You can travel from Istanbul to Cappadocia by plane, bus, or car, and from Antalya by bus or car.
Volcanic activity created the unbelievable rock formations. The nearby Mount Argeus, Mount Hasan, and Mount Güllü erupted approximately 60 million years ago.
The powers of nature sculptured the soft layers of lava and ash into the chimney shapes you see today. It is difficult to describe the area as everybody’s imagination sees it differently.
However, no matter whether you spot a camel, a gracious lady, or simple rock pillars rising from the ground, once you arrive in the region and glimpse at the fairy chimneys for the first time, you’ll immediately understand the appeal to see this phenomenon from above.
You’ll also quickly understand why half of all hot air balloon rides worldwide happen over the surreal landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey. The area has been a favourite location for the most romantic way of flying for decades.
But that’s not all!
The best time of the day for hot air balloon rides over Cappadocia is at the dawn of the new day. The sight of tens of vibrant balloons, carrying happy travellers over the stunning rock formations and cave dwellings of Cappadocia, bathed in the gentle light of the first sun rays, is one of the most romantic scenes you can ever imagine!
Life doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
Tip: hot air ballooning is perhaps the coolest but only one of the awesome things to do in Cappadocia. Don’t miss wandering between the fairy chimneys or exploring the underground cities, too!
How Safe Is Air Ballooning Over Cappadocia?
Turkish authorities take safety very seriously.
The pilots’ education is as thorough as the training for airplane pilots. There are three educational centres in Cappadocia alone. The whole course from beginning to getting a job flying tourists takes approximately 15 months. By the time the pilot gets all necessary certificates, he has flown well over 200 hours.
Additionally, the weather conditions – especially the wind – must be perfect for the balloons to fly. The Turkish Civil Aviation Authority has an office in Cappadocia that gives approval for balloon flights if the weather conditions are within limits. There are no exceptions.
The authorities also permit a maximum of 150 hot air balloons to be in the air over Cappadocia at a given time. Usually, there are fewer than that. On some days, only 20 or 30 balloons get lucky to start before the winds change.
The balloon’s route mostly relies on the direction of the wind. You’ll hear that the only thing the pilot can really control is the height of the flight. However, after experiencing the virtuosity of the Turkish captains, I strongly disagree.
The pilots not only steer the hot air balloons but they also perform incredible stunts! Moreover, every balloon has an on-ground crew of 20 to 25 people who are in constant contact with the pilot.
As for the passengers, belts secure them to the basket.
The landings are very precise and soft. Bounces are occasional and passengers rarely suffer any injuries.
Who Can Take A Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride?
The general rule is that if you can stand still for an hour and see over the edge of the basket, you can enjoy hot air ballooning!
This means that children shorter than 110 cm won’t have a blast since they won’t be able to peak over the edge of the basket. Children younger than 5-years-old will have difficulty standing still for an hour and following safety instructions.
There is no maximum age for hot air balloon rides as long as you can stand on your feet for one hour.
Unfortunately, the baskets are not wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair-bound passengers cannot fly.
Last but not least, don’t go on a balloon tour if you’re past the 28th week of pregnancy.
When Can You Go Hot Air Ballooning In Cappadocia?
Turkey’s mild climate ensures hot air balloon rides can happen all year long. Besides, the fairy chimneys look magical in all seasons!
However, what nobody tells you is that the wind can mess up your plans to fly over Cappadocia.
Early mornings are blessed with the weakest winds. That’s the reason why Cappadocia hot air balloons fly at sunrise. It is the quietest time of the day and the gentle pink and orange hues of the first sunrays are only an added bonus.
We spent 3 days in Cappadocia. Only on the second morning of our stay, the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority allowed hot air balloons to fly over the majestic landscape.
You can check the current weather conditions by visiting this website. A green flag means you can fly.
How Much Does The Hot Air Balloon Adventure Cost?
This is a trick question.
When we booked our trip to Turkey, the announced price for the Cappadocia hot air balloon was 140€.
A few weeks later, when the rest of the payment was due, the price has gone up to 150€. Not a big deal, we thought.
Then, shortly before we left for Turkey, the tour operator warned us that the ride would cost us 160€… Still, we were OK with it. After all, you can’t put a price tag on happiness!
Once we headed to Cappadocia with our tour guide, he announced that the situation has escalated further. The weather conditions hadn’t allowed any balloons to fly over Cappadocia for a couple of days before our arrival. To make up for the losses, the companies have increased the price to 180€ per person.
The day we arrived in Ürgüp, the cost for the next day was even higher. Our guide didn’t give in and the haggling continued. It seemed that nobody caved in and there were almost no balloon rides the next day.
A day later, all sides agreed to a 180 € / person price per ride and we were glad to go to bed feeling the excitement of the upcoming adventure.
We even heard the story of a man who wanted to pay $5,000 for a private balloon ride to propose to his girlfriend. However, the wind messed up his plan and no pilot was ready to fly even for this exorbitant price. I hope that the couple still got married ;)
So, to sum it up: prices vary. If you find a rate you can afford, book for the first possible morning of your stay in Cappadocia. In case the ride doesn’t happen, you’ll be rebooked for the next day or refunded.
Honestly, having in mind how many people are involved and what services are included in this unforgettable experience, I think you’ll agree that the price is actually very reasonable.
Tip: I doubt that the online price will change. Check the best-rated tour on GetYourGuide and book in advance – Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tour.
The Air Balloon Ride Over Cappadocia: All The Tiny Details
The Pick Up Times
The pick-up time for the Cappadocia air balloon ride is usually between 4:00 AM and 4:30 AM. The time may differ according to your accommodation’s location.
The minibus takes you to the company’s office for a coffee/tea and a snack before leaving for the take-off point.
Meanwhile, the crew checks the weather conditions. The waiting time depends on the current situation. On the day I flew, it was approximately two hours. Good thing there was a toilet available after all the tea and coffee we drank to wake up at this eerie hour :)
From the tour company’s office, you drive to the starting point for the balloon ride. There are several spots on the hills of Cappadocia, around Göreme, which the tour companies use for take-off.
The first task is to pump air into the balloons. The envelopes, as they are called, are transported in huge sacks. The crew unpacks and lays them down on the ground. Then, huge fans begin to inflate the balloons.
At this point, the basket and the balloon lie on one side. The crewmembers inspect every inch of the envelope and the ropes.
After the balloons are filled with cold air, the propane burner starts heating the air. The balloon rises up and turns the basket upside.
By the time your hot air balloon is ready for take-off, a whole propane bottle is emptied.
The Take Off
Just before take-off, the crew installs a new propane bottle inside the basket. Then, the pilot and the passengers climb in.
The basket is divided into sections. The middle one is for the propane bottle and the pilot, the rest – for the passengers.
Most hot air balloons, which fly over Cappadocia, carry a basket for 20 to 28 people. Several smaller teaching balloons are available, which have baskets for 14 or 16 passengers. Balloon companies offer VIP tours for fewer people but in my opinion, sharing the experience with others actually enriches it.
Our balloon’s basket had a capacity of 20 people and was separated into four sections for five passengers each with plenty of room to stand and turn.
After climbing into the basket, the crew secures you with a belt and you are ready for the ride.
Before you continue reading, there’s something important I need to tell you.
No two Cappadocia air balloon rides are the same.
The conditions for two balloons are never the same. The take-off spots can’t be the same. The pilot is never the same. The wind is not the same, nor is the path your balloon will follow compared to mine or somebody else’s.
But that’s the beauty of it! Your hot air ballooning adventure is unique!
Therefore, instead of having expectations, making plans what stunning rock formations you’ll observe, how you would feel, etc. – simply enjoy the ride and dive into the experience.
With that out of the way, these are the things I saw and experienced during my balloon ride. Our skilful pilot Ali did a few stunts. Again, yours might do the same or may have other tricks up his sleeve:
- He flew so close to the ground that we could see the colour of the eyes of the people waving at us.
- For several minutes, we were the highest-flying balloon over Cappadocia. We rose to 1,000 m (3,280 ft) before starting to descend at 5 m/s (11 mi/h).
- The pilot flew us over the rooftops of Göreme and we almost scratched the tips of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys.
- He spun the balloon to give us incredible 360° panoramas of the surreal landscape.
- Ali steered the balloon around and squeezed us between some of the chimneys.
- At the end, he performed a perfect soft landing on the transportation platform.
The duration of the flight is between 45 and 60 minutes, which you’ll remember for the rest of your life. And if you forget your camera or don’t want to be distracted by taking pictures during the flight, there’s an action camera attached to the balloon, which shoots the whole adventure.
Since the basket is over 250 kg heavy, the Turkish pilots try their best to land the hot air balloons as precisely as possible on the trailers. In this way, their crewmembers don’t need to do the heavy lifting – the balloon itself does it.
The flat fields around Göreme serve as perfect landing grounds for the hot air balloons. Most of them land very softly on the trailers or on the fields and the passengers don’t experience even the slightest bump.
Only occasionally, you’ll see a basket slightly bouncing off the ground before stopping its ride. Police cars and ambulances control the traffic in the area and watch out for incidents.
Once on the ground, the crew helps you climb out of the basket. The air from the envelope is released by opening the top.
Afterwards, you toast with a glass of champagne a successful and unforgettable hot air balloon ride.
This tradition originates from the first hot air balloon flight back in 1783. The French pilots landed in a field and destroyed some of the crops. To make it up to the farmer, they offered him a drink of Champagne.
Before heading back to your accommodation, you receive a certificate to remember the flight.
Not that you could ever forget such an intense morning ;)
Ready To Fly? Check The Best-rated Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Tour
So now that you have all your questions answered and your fears conquered, the only thing left to do is book your Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon tour!
That’s the best-rated tour on GetYourGuide and here’s what the price includes:
- Hotel pick-up and drop-off.
- Hot drinks and snacks.
- The main event: the hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia.
- Champagne and a certificate at landing.
But most importantly, the unforgettable memory of the romantic journey over the magnificent landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey!
All you have to do is click here to book your unique adventure.