A rocky landscape of natural wonders and human aptitude, Cappadocia is Turkey’s very own fairytale kingdom. Initially shaped by volcanic eruption and erosion, locals and religious refugees worked the already-breathtaking topography into an impressive network of underground chambers, tunnels, and cities thousands of years ago.
Now a World Heritage site, Cappadocia’s rich and diverse cultural and political history is enough to attract anyone to the region — but what brings tourists to Cappadocia these days is the chance to see it from a hot air balloon.
With fairy chimneys and pillars, river valleys and cliffs, the region is certainly a magnificent site to behold from the air. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to book a trip to the area and see it for yourself.
Scroll down to learn how to plan your trip and take your next favorite travel photo.
Types of Flights
Tour companies offer a few options to meet your needs. Standard flights carry more people and don’t last as long, but they are more cost friendly. Although deluxe flights cost more, they carry less people and stay up in the air longer. Most companies also offer private tours for special occasions.
How to Choose a Hot Air Balloon Tour
There are many hot air balloon tours to choose from. The one you want will depend on your personal preferences in terms of length of flight, capacity of balloon, and cost.
Duration of Flight
Flights can last anywhere between 45 minutes to two hours. It depends on who you book your tour with, and which flight deal you pick. For example, Kapadokya Balloons’ Standard Flight lasts 45 to 65 minutes, while their deluxe flight lasts 1.5 hours.
Capacity of Balloon
The capacity of the basket again depends on the company and the flight. Urgup Balloons’ Classic Flight carries 20 to 24 people, while their Deluxe Flight carries 12 to 16. Butterfly Balloons’ BEYOND Flight can carry 3 people per compartment, which amounts to 12 passengers total.
How Much Does It Cost?
Deluxe and private flights cost a lot more than standard or classic. Urgup Balloons’ Classic Flight costs about $185 per person, their Comfort Flight $208, and their Deluxe Flights about $254 per basket.
Prepare for Unpredictable Weather
Hot air balloon flights are weather dependent and may be canceled. In that event, many companies will offer you a full refund or help you reschedule. Plan to spend a few days in Cappadocia so you can rebook if this happens to you.
When to Go
You can go hot air ballooning any time of year, but with hot, dry summers and cold—and sometimes snowy—winters, the best time to go is during the spring (April-June) and fall (September-October) months.
How High up Do the Balloons Go?
This also depends on the balloon company. Royal Balloons will take you as high up as 3,000 feet, whereas a Kapadokya Balloons flight will fly up to 6,000 feet on weekdays and 8,000 feet on weekends.
When Do Flights Take Off?
Balloons usually take off early in the morning—about 5:00 to 5:30am, depending on the season—because the wind conditions are best around sunrise. Tour companies will pick you up at your hotel, so there’s no need to worry about getting to the take-off site while you’re half asleep.
Take-off Sites Vary
A lot of tour companies change their take-off site on a day-to-day basis. They base the location on the day’s wind direction and speed.
How to Dress
It’s cooler up in the air than on the ground, so if you go during the warmer months, consider wearing layers and a light jacket. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes since you’ll be on your feet for a long time.
A Turbulent-free Ride
If you typically get sick on airplanes, be rest assured: balloon flights are so smooth you can enjoy the flight without the discomfort of airsickness.
A Bubbly Tradition
No matter which tour you decide to book, in line with balloon tradition, expect a champagne toast (and maybe a slice of cake) upon landing.
An Occasion to Remember
At the end of the trip, tour companies generally hand out certificates or medallions to commemorate the event.
Flying Into Cappadocia
You can take a nonstop flight to either Nevşehir Kapadokya or Kayseri Erkilet Airports via Turkish Airlines or Pegasus Air (take note that Pegasus Air only services Kayseri). Ask your hotel if they offer airport transfers. If not, you can reserve a shuttle through Argeus or Heritage, or take a taxi to your hotel.
Alternative Route into Cappadocia
You could also take an overnight bus from Istanbul, Denizli, or Ankara. From Istanbul, it’s a 10-12 hour bus ride, but for $17 to $20 one-way, it is the cheapest option. Book your tickets through Metro Turizm.
Where to Stay
Cappadocia is a region, with five provinces and over 10 towns. The most popular destinations for tourists are the towns of Göreme, Ürgüp, and Uçhisar.
Most tourists go to Göreme because it’s easily accessible and it’s within walking distance of the Göreme Open-Air Museum. Decorated with colorful frescoes in the Byzantine style, this collection of rock-cut churches is worthy of its spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
Similar to Göreme, many travelers also flock to Ürgüp. If you love wine, consider staying here since it’s the capital of wine production in the Cappadocia region.
At the highest point in Cappadocia, Uçhisar is another popular town for tourists to reside in. Home to Uçhisar Castle, this rock citadel offers a beautiful panoramic view of the region and Mount Erciyes.
Stay the Night in a Cave
Get the full troglodyte experience at one of Cappadocia’s famous cave hotels. According to TripAdvisor, Goreme Suites, Erenbey Cave Hotel, and Aydinli Cave Hotel are the best value for your money, but Kayakapi Premium Caves and MDC Hotel are highly rated as well.
Where to take the best photo from the ground
If you’re wanting to re-experience your time in the air (or hoping to get a sneak preview), head to Göreme’s Sunset Point early in the morning to watch the balloons rise with the sun.
What to Eat
Try börek, gözleme, and böregi, at Nazar Börek Cafe or mezze at Topdeck Cave Restaurant. Order pottery kebab at Old Cappadocia Cafe & Restaurant for true Anatolian fare.
The “Land of Beautiful Horses”
Cappadocia is the “Land of Beautiful Horses,” so you should explore the landscape by horse as well as by hot air balloon. While you’re on the ground, don’t forget to indulge in wine tasting.
It’s Just As Beautiful Underground
Cappadocia is made up of underground cities, so make time to discover its unique history. Take a tour of either Derinkuyu and Kaymakli to see perfect examples of what it was like for previous residents to live underground.
Source: Read Full Article