Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> Turkey

Balloon Flight

Saturday 29th May

We were picked up at 5.15am for the balloon flight. Ballooning at Goreme was a bigger operation than I had imagined, with some 47 balloons going up that morning, nearly all of them from the same launching area. This was a dramatic spectacle in itself — and once aloft the balloons remained a dramatic addition to the landscapes.

turning the gas on
lift off!
rising into the sunlight

We went up as high as 600 metres for the broad view, and right down into a canyon (Love Valley) for the closeup views.

Our pilot had an airplane pilot's licence and had originally wanted to fly F16s, and he handled the balloon to what seemed like quite fine tolerances, taking the balloon envelope itself within half a metre of a rock pinnacle (a "fairy chimney") and getting close enough to a tree to allow some of the passengers (there were twenty of us) to pick leaves off it.

Goreme from above
balloons in front of Urchisar castle
valley of chimneys

The balloon could be rotated so as to give everyone a share of the views, but had no lateral thrust at all. So the only way to control where it went was to go up and down and use knowledge of the different air currents. Local knowledge was obviously very important — and at a couple of places people on the ground had fires burning to generate smoke to help the pilots track the winds.

Our pilot, with help from his ground crew, who manoeuvred the vehicle and pulled on ropes attached to the balloon, managed to land the basket right on the trailer (while avoiding potato fields).

balloons above Love Valley

We celebrated our successful flight with champagne, then headed back to the hotel for breakfast.

Goreme and Cappadocia from the air are spectacular, and this is apparently the most popular location for hot-air ballooning in the world. (Though I wouldn't be surprised to find several places claiming that.) Ballooning is not cheap, but if you're only ever going to do it once, this might be the place.

We flew with Goreme Balloons, but our hotel owner arranged a significantly better price than the one on their web site.

Next: Urchisar
Previous: Derinkuyu underground city, Ilhara Valley + Selime Monastery
Up: Turkey

Turkey << Travelogues << Danny Yee