Why should you take this balloon ride? Well, just like a father tells his teenager son: because I said so! It may seem like a bossy argument, but I really don’t want you to miss this experience. Turkey from the sky is just an overwhelming spectacular.
It is not surprising that, according to a tale, a Turkish man named Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi was the one who invented a gadget to be the first person who was able to fly. He was sure that it was worth it. In fact, Turkey is one of the best destinations in the world to ride in a hot-air balloon.
Once in Turkey, Cappadocia is the pearl of the stratosphere. This area in the center of the country is a combination of fantastic landscapes with the right conditions to fly in all year round.
Nattule gives you 7 reasons to not miss this experience:
1. Dawn in Göreme
Getting up early is mandatory, but you will be happy to do it. The dawn in the National Park of Göreme draws thousands of visitors, that gather together at this spot to watch an impressive scene. What’s more is that you will be able to watch it from above. Going up, in semi-darkness, the silence, only interrupted by the roaring flames that inflate the balloon, is one of the protagonists of the ascent.
The other protagonist is the color: when the sun rises, it paints the sky with grayish, blue and pink tones.
The first sunbeams will unveil the winding landscape of Cappadocia. Once up there, and before looking down, take a minute to look around and see the amount of balloons sharing this magnificent experience with you.
Dawn at Göreme National Park
2. Erciyes Volcano, the origin of Cappadocia
Up there, the reference point is the Erciyes Volcano, the highest peak of Anatolia. The shape of that mountain can be seen from every corner of Cappadocia. The volcano is asleep while you, fully awake, realize why Cappadocia is one of the most visited regions of Turkey.
The reason behind the peculiar orography of the area is due to the volcano eruption that happened millions of years ago. The lava covered the whole region and, throughout the years, the water and wind have transformed the valley with surprising shapes.
Erciyes volcano dominates the horizon
If you are not an early bird, and prefer to fly at dusk, you will miss the sunrise, but to compensate, you will see how the volcano replaces its original color with an orange tone.
3. Lunar landscapes
Cappadocia seems the right place to land on the moon. Cape Canaveral should buy it to use it as a training area for cosmonauts. The rocky formations spread over valleys and cliffs of surprising shapes and colors. A great example of it is Güllü Dere Valley, known as the Pink Valley because of the color scheme of the rocks that form it.
Floating balloons over the Pink Valley
From there, at a distance, we see Ihlara Valley, between the Hasan and Melendiz mountains, which is a revelation for your eyes. On this cliff, carved by Melendiz River, the first Christians who were persecuted by the Romans, hid. Many of the temples built back then can be visited today.
4. Fairy chimneys
According to the legend, a fairy fell in love with a human and as a punishment, they were confined in between some wedged rocks, known today as the fairy chimneys. In reality, these are rock pillars shaped by the force of water and wind.
The Love Valley is a reference place for those looking for these structures. The best way to see them is from above. The flight over this valley, where chimneys rise up to 40 meters high, is one of the most popular flights of all Cappadocia.
Fairy chimneys at the Love Valley
From your privileged position, more than a 1,000 meters high, the play of lights and shadows over the valley form a wonderful sight.
5. Göreme and Ürgüp, cities enclosed by rocks
Nature is a good mother. Cappadocia confirms this statement. For example, the holes dug up by natural forces have been used since centuries ago by the inhabitants of the area as temples, houses, or animal shelters.
From up above, you’ll see cities like Göreme and Ürgüp, where rocky formations mixed with modern buildings cause a unique surrounding. When you get back on the ground, do not miss the opportunity to spend a night in one of these cave houses, that have been made into hotels.
Cave houses in Göreme
6. Uçhisar and Ortahisar fortresses
Near Göreme we find Uçhisar. This city is located on the highest point of the whole region, and has a fortress from where you can look at the horizon. The fortress is a whole labyrinth of halls and alleys dug into the rock.
Some of the areas are restricted areas because of the damages of the erosion, so the best way to see the fortress is from the air, allowing you to enjoy every nook and the whole landscape. From the balloon you will see a fantastic panoramic view: a city full of history and culture, surrounded by a special landscape.
The city of Uçhisar and its fortress
Half way between Uçhisar and Ürgüp we find Ortahisar. An unknown city that barely appears in any map. Because of the danger of landslides, visiting this city was forbidden back in 2004, but nowadays, after the restoration of many buildings, the city can be visited again.
On the balloon rides that are organized to get to know the area, you will see the impressive fortress that crowns the city, with a shape of a termite mound.
From the balloon you will enjoy amazing views of the main square, the cliffs, the labyrinth of cobblestone streets, the flea markets and the refined buildings scattered along the historical center like an anarchic hive.
Balloon floating by Ortahisar fortress
7. Cappadocia in the snow
Most of the visitors choose summer to visit Anatolia, as it is the best season to do so. However, balloon rides can be done almost all year round with the right wind conditions.
Visiting Cappadocia in the winter has at least some advantages: lower prices and less crowds.
Flying over snowy Cappadocia is just one of the attractions. If you look at the road that leaves Göreme towards the north, you will see a valley full of vineyards and pasture fields; a beautiful scenery covered with snow and full of charm. The village of Cavusin is located among those vineyards, which a tiny village of houses built on the rock.
Far from the cliffs crowning this village you will see the Zelve Valley. During the winter, the snow highlights the contrast between the fairy chimneys and the reddish tones of the valley.
Snowed Cappadocia valleys
Those who don’t have their feet on the ground is because their mind is in the clouds. Traveling by balloon is a good choice for the idealistic ones. The parasol tourist is a pragmatic person. He knows for sure that sand will not surprise him. Whomever decides to live a life without surprises does not go over 60 pulsations per minute and few of them fly over Cappadocia. In Turkey, tachycardia is considered good for your health.