After my alarm woke me up at 3:40AM, I got myself washed and dressed and went out into the pitch black and chilly night and stood in front of the hotel. Tali and I had barely slept but we were wide-awake with excitement. We were about to take part in one of the best-known and most exciting activities in Cappadocia: hot air ballooning at sunrise!
As we waited for our bus, about seven other hot air balloon company buses drove by to pick up other excited and terrified tourists. Finally our bus showed up, took us for a light breakfast at their main office, and then took us into a field in the middle of nowhere, where dozens of different hot air balloons were at different stages of inflation.
It was slow, calm and comfortable. There was no fear, just adrenaline and excitement – but I’m not sure if I was more excited to see the mind-blowing view of colorful balloons all over the sky against the beautiful rock formations or to actually be floating 800 meters above ground in a balloon!?
Everyone was snapping photos left and right (myself included) as we floated up in the sky, but I made an effort to stop and enjoy the scenery and the experience instead of living through my camera lens (or my phone lens or my GoPro…).
It is hard to imagine, but the feeling of being in the sky was of such serenity and calmness. I’m used to being in loud airplanes with engines running and babies crying, but there was no sound to be heard except for the occasional release of fire into the balloon for steering.
I didn’t think this experience would be as moving as it was, but it was truly stunning from balloons to the landscape to the quiet. I felt like the world was sleeping but I got a VIP pass to get up extra early and experience this magical hour.
If you can’t tell, I HIGHLY recommend hot air ballooning in Cappadocia to anyone who visits Turkey. Make sure a stop in Cappadocia is on your itinerary and do it. Wake up at the ungodly hour, bundle up in the chill of the night, I promise it will be worth it. TIPS: In reality, all the balloon companies are the same, offer the same program and experience and are at the same time (which is half the fun because you get to see all the other balloons in the sky). I paid 130 Euro, so something in that range is to be expected. If you are unsure, you can always go on TripAdvisor, the balloon company websites or the company offices and ask to see a proper license.