Monday, September 15th, 2014

Freezing in a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia

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If you ever plan on getting into a hot air balloon someday, here’s a suggestion for you: do it in Cappadocia, Turkey.  Hot air balloon flights are incredibly popular in Cappadocia — several dozen balloons go up each day, even in the winter, so people can see the incredible landscape from the air.

I booked my tour with Cihangiroglu Balloons, one of Cappadocia’s first hot air balloon businesses, and they picked me up from my guesthouse at the ripe hour of 6:00 AM, taking me out to a balloon-filled valley.

And it was ABSOLUTELY FREEZING.

It was late November, and it was -9 degrees Celsius — or 16 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine that with the fact that the sun hadn’t even risen and there was literally nowhere to go to get warm.

How cold was it?

It was so cold, SANTA was there!

Soon enough, as the sun began peeking over the fairy chimneys, we got into the basket, our guide began blasting the hot air, and we rose into the air.

By this point, the sun was illuminating the landscape, turning the gray fairy chimneys bright gold.

It was amazing. It was so quiet, and so still. It was my first time in a hot air balloon, and watching all those balloons bob up and down as we glided through the air was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

Keep in mind that as all this was happening, the sun was finally starting to warm our faces — but our feet were still shielded by the basket.  As a result, my toes nearly froze clean off.  I was tap dancing to keep them warm, but nothing seemed to work.

Luckily, I had some hilarious and slightly insane Australians who were riding with me.  While we hadn’t met until that morning, the Aussies and I became fast friends — and before long, we were all spooning each other to stay warm!

As I always say, making friends while traveling solo isn’t as hard as you think.  Signing up for an activity like a hot air balloon ride is a great way to meet new people.  We spent the whole time talking about their theological archaeology work (seriously) and I dished about travel blogging.  If I hadn’t been leaving in a few hours, I’m sure we would have spent more time together.

Check out the scenery, and the Aussies’ antics, on video:

After our dramatic ride through the sky, we finished by coasting over what I referred to as the Valley of Penises.

TOTALLY looks like that.

Our touchdown was surprisingly gentle — while we had been told earlier that we might need to brace ourselves for a rough landing, it couldn’t have been more gentle as our basket kissed the ground.

Safely back on the frozen soil, we finished our odyssey with a champagne toast.

Well, some lightweights had apple juice.

That balloon ride was SO worth it.  If you leave Cappadocia without going up in a hot air balloon, you’ve wasted your visit.  It’s just such a great opportunity that is so accessible to you. It would be a shame to miss it.

But I wouldn’t come back in the winter — that’s for sure!

Many thanks to Cihangiroglu Balloons and Anahita Travel for the complimentary hot air balloon ride.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

Comments

22 Responses to “Freezing in a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia”
  1. William says:

    Very cool adventure and a most interesting landscape for sure.

  2. Duke Dillard says:

    Great post- thanks for sharing your experience. I agree about the winter, but it snowed on Christmas and then it was great being here. All the fairy chimneys and such covered in snow was beautiful. But before that in late November, early December it was not a great place for visitors, for sure.

  3. Hannah says:

    I did a hot air balloon in Cappadocia about a year ago. And it was awesome. We had a really rough landing, though. The pilot actually got knocked off the ledge of the basket just as we landed. It was scary for a minute, but he was fine, and the experience was totally memorable. I did another hot air balloon ride in Egypt last fall, and it wasn’t quite the same. No Valley of the Penises!

  4. John says:

    Looks awesome, and great photography! What are prices like for hot air balloon rides there? Average? Significantly cheaper?

  5. Amanda says:

    That is one huge balloon basket! Wow!

    I love that so many balloons go up each day. I love the photos/videos with other balloons in them, because it really helps you understand the scope and size of the place.

    Lucky you had a nice landing! When my sister and I went up in Monument Valley this summer, there was a stretch of time when I was worried we’d never be back on the ground! We kept floating back up after landing. Lol.

  6. JamieRTW says:

    Funny to read “Winter” and “Freezing” yet it looks so warm.
    Aside from the misleading of temperature the pictures are fantastic and thank you for the tip.
    I have added it to my Turkey to do list.

    Looking forward to keeping up in 2012, keep rock’n.

  7. Betti says:

    if I had the necessary bucks, I would totally go in Bagan (Burma). seen videos and it is amazing. but it costs as much as spending 2 weeks in the country…. :-(

  8. Kirsten says:

    I’ve never been in a hot air balloon though I am so longing to go. This may have to be my inaugural experience!

  9. Tamsin says:

    Woweeee, this looks amazing! Such a fantastic landscape and photos of it too.

  10. Chris says:

    Jealous! Hot air ballooning looks so serene and so beautiful.

    Hoping to tick it off my bucket list in 2012.

  11. Kelsi says:

    This looks like an amazing adventure! I’d have to wait for the weather to warm up though. I’m such a baby about the cold.

  12. Hai says:

    Wow this is so cool.

  13. Murat says:

    Cappadocia is one of the best places in the world for Hot Air Ballooning. Not only there good balloon companies and experienced pilots but what makes even more special is: Microclimate + Landscape to adore + no highrisers so balloons can fly low countour. It is surely an experience of a lifetime and Cappadocia is the place to experience. Come and Enjoy what Cappadocia can offer to travellers.

  14. Kate, it always seems like you have such fun traveling, and your enthusiasm really comes through in your posts. Keep it up! People like you keep people like me, those waiting at home until their departure day, revved up and ready to go.

  15. Eray says:

    Amazing adventure:) thanks for sharing. I didn’t know that they can fly in winter too, looking forward to go there!

  16. Shivangi says:

    It actually looks all sunny and warm but i’m jus gonna take your word for it. and sure looks like a valley of boners !

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