Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey

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Floating across the sky at sunrise, above the lunar-like, rugged moonscape of Cappadocia was one of the most incredible mornings of my life.

This surreal experience last September was bucket list material; the type of experience where you find yourself wondering, “did that really just happen?” – but you’re holding your camera with a digital summation of an hour you’ll never be able to articulate into words…so it must have. You’ll say to friends, “You just have to go there just to get this. You have to do it too”.



Cappadocia in Turkey is in the middle of nowhere. More officially, it’s in the Nevsehir Provence of the Central Anatolia region. You land at the tiny airport, hop in a shuttle bus and drive another ninety minutes, with almost no sign of civilisation and captivating landscapes unlike anything you’ve ever sighted before. So much so, that you find yourself wondering if you’ve mistakenly flown onto the moon. It’s other-worldly.

Most tourists venture here for the exact purpose of hot air ballooning; and that was my mission too. The morning started with a 5am pickup from my hotel, greeted in the bus by the hushed and excited chatter of fellow balloon riders already collected. Arriving at Universal Balloon HQ in darkness, we were offered coffee and a breakfast spread while we waited for the wind to drop to a safe level. The attendants warned us there may be no flights that day – it’s always unpredictable.

Away off in the field, one hundred balloons lay like sleeping giants, or flickering light bulbs. Suddenly, we were given the go-ahead, and all hurriedly piled back into the shuttle bus to be driven over to our balloon. We stood around the balloon watching it be inflated – with a skyshow of fierce flames.

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Then ushered over to the balloon, twenty of us all clambered in to our allocated basket compartments. The balloon quickly inflated to its full, round sphere, and then before I realised it, we had taken flight. We lifted off the grass and rose up, and up. In that moment, I was so excited that I felt paralysed with awe. Our air balloon pilot Ersoy (yes, they’re really considered a pilot of aviation!) chuckled and explained that we’d have fun up in the air, because there is no way to control speed or direction once in flight – only height.



When you ride a hot air balloon, you’re really at the mercy of the air, making the experience utterly exhilarating, slightly terrifying… eyes vivid with wonder; hands clutching onto the basket tightly. Flying up in the air is eerie and peaceful. We floated by pigeon houses and eroded mushroom-like fairy chimneys; bobbing around us were a hundred other balloons in splashes of colours; a kaleidoscope illuminating the dawn.



After an hour, our basket lowered back to earth gently and strategically landed onto the back of a Ute. A card table was propped up before us, with congratulatory medals and champagne glasses filled. Drinking sparkling at 7.30am is okay when it’s tradition.


After the shuttle bus dropped me back to my cave hotel, I crawled back under the covers, to lay very still and fully absorb what I’d just experienced. I drifted off to that space between sleep and wake, feeling vividly that somehow, I had just lived a dream while wide awake.

I flew with Universal Balloons, as recommended by my hotel in Göreme, and found them to be wonderful. I chose the ‘standard’ flight (sharing with 20 others) however for higher prices, you can opt for deluxe flights with smaller groups, longer air time or even a private balloon ride.

Have you ever gone hot air ballooning? What’s on your bucket list?

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    February 25, 2016 at 12:02 am

    Beautiful! But I do need to know where you got those shoes?!

    Mohamed Haqqi
    December 19, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Next time, when you visit turkey back, we are inviting you to our cappadocia hot air balloon :)))

    November 1, 2015 at 12:39 am

    This is amazing; the sky looks so beautiful filled with all those hot air balloons!!

    Mutlu Deveci
    October 22, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks for amaizing share from Cappadocia. We love to see more visitors who wish to explore Cappadocia.

    July 1, 2015 at 2:46 am

    Oh my goodness! Those photos are absolutely incredible; hot air ballooning in Cappadocia has officially been added to my bucket list. I can’t get over how pretty those mountains are. I’m actually pretty scared of heights, but with views like that, I feel like it would totally be worth it. Thanks for sharing all of these pictures! Looks like you had a great time.

    June 29, 2015 at 4:40 am

    I went to Cappadocia last September of 2014 and did the early morning hot air balloon ride. It was out of this world experience. Twas magical!

    Susan the Farm Quilter
    June 6, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Ballooning is so much fun! I got to go in the mountains of northern California with some friends…the wife is the pilot and hubby plays ground crew. There were only 4 of us in the basket and it was fabulous..skimming over hills just 5 feet from the ground to soaring high above the pine trees. Love it!

    JB & Renee
    June 5, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    Stunning. My wife and I are planning a trip to Turkey this November to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. Either that or Spain and Portugal. If it does wind up being Turkey, then we’re so doing this! What an incredible experience it must have been. 🙂

    Emily Thompson
    June 4, 2015 at 1:29 am

    This seems like such an incredible experience! The pictures are absolutely gorgeous!

    June 1, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    It’s on my bucket list, but it’s so damn expensive! At least if I where to do it here in Sweden..
    Guess I’ll just do it when I’m traveling in a cheaper country 🙂

    Frances Ambler
    May 31, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    This blogpost has bought back some great memories of my time in Cappadocia. It’s such a magical place that I now look at my photos and can’t believe it’s actually real! Being able to experience it in a hot air balloon was amazing, but I also loved hiking and getting to explore it on foot. Plus coupled with the amazing hospitality of the people of Cappadocia, it’s definitely one of my travel highlights.

    May 31, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Gorgeous photos! This has been on my bucket list for some time.

    May 30, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    This was one of my highlights when I went to turkey but unfortunately I felt light headed for most of it and had to crouch down in the basket which was a shame. Still an incredible experience though.

    May 29, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    beautiful day to go ballooning! hope the vie w was super

    Lisa | Wherever She May Roam
    May 29, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Would absolutely love to do this!

    May 28, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    These photos are absolutely amazing! Hot ballooning is definitely on my bucket list – hoping to do it when I return to Vang Vien, Laos. The cloud mountains there kill me — I can only imagine the view from a balloon!

    May 28, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Beautiful! Added to the bucket list :]

    Paris by Friday
    May 28, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Wow, this looks like the most incredible experience; I’ve never been hot-air ballooning, nor have I ever been to Turkey, so the two combined must make for something special. I love flying and aeroplanes so I hope that drifting in a basket in the air would be just as, if not even more freeing and exhilarating.

    However, I am always torn between whether to capture these moments with my camera so I can hold onto them forever (and share on my blog haha) or whether to just enjoy the experience. If I had a clone, I’d imagine I’d use her to take photos while I just soak in my surroundings! Unfortunately, I can’t clone myself just yet, but I’m learning to spend less time snapping, more time living. Nowadays I take a few photos (often in burst mode so I can select the best later and don’t have to worry about the perfect shot) and then put my camera away for the rest of the time. What do you do in this situation?

    With love ♥︎

    Alisha Paul
    May 28, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    The photos are stunning! I’ve for the longest time been itching to go on a hot air blow up ride, however my apprehension of statures frequently stops me. Added it to my late spring pail rundown, thanks young lady!

    May 28, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I recently went on a tethered balloon ride and now I am dreaming of riding a real hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. It is listed on my mark my footprint list. Your pictures look amazing btw! 🙂

    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel
    May 28, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Definitely on my bucket list!!

    Delighted Vegan
    May 28, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Wonderful pictures, the scenery is stunning!
    I love hot air ballooning, my step father had one 15 years back, so whenever there was a free spot I could hop on as well, it was amazing!


    Sarah Anton
    May 28, 2015 at 7:35 am

    The pictures are breath-taking! I’ve always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride, but my fear of heights often stops me. Added it to my summer bucket list, thanks girl!

    May 28, 2015 at 7:13 am

    It was interesting seeing my country from diffrent eyes. I had the same baloon ride last year and it was magical 🙂 Though we had a tough landing because of the wind. Even that was fun.
    Glad you liked it.

    May 28, 2015 at 5:52 am

    This looks like such an experience of a life time! I’ve never been on a hot air balloon but I’d love to try this in Turkey!

    May 28, 2015 at 4:51 am

    Love your pictures! I have been to a couple of balloon races, but I have never been in one! I have always wanted to go hot air ballooning! It looks and sounds like such an incredible experience!

    May 28, 2015 at 3:53 am

    This just looks so romantic! I’d love to see for myself how the air baloons are flying up the sky!

    May 28, 2015 at 2:30 am

    This is absolutely breathtaking. I love the way you write as well, it makes me feel like I was there and is very informative as well! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    May 28, 2015 at 2:16 am

    Stunning pictures! This has been on my bucket list for a while, and this just makes me want to go even more!

    Luna | Flowers and Pearls
    May 28, 2015 at 1:58 am

    Soooo nice to see these pictures! I’ve been in Cappadocia last December. The landscape is really stunning. I didn’t go for the hot air balloon trip, but I did do some horseriding there : )

    May 28, 2015 at 1:30 am

    While this experience can be magical, be aware of the risk you are taking. In Cappadocia there are a wide range of skill level and experience among the companies and people who fly the balloons. Even with an experienced pilot, the sheer number of balloons in the air at the same time makes safety an issue. I did this, I saw a balloon crash and people died. I would never ride in a hot air balloon again… and there are other ways to see the vast and beautiful grandeur of Cappadocia.

    Ashleigh Em
    May 28, 2015 at 1:04 am

    I just came across your blog via bloglovin, and I must say, I am in love.

    What an amazing thing it must be living out your dreams and travelling the world!

    Love, all the way from Jamaica – visit soon!

    Ashleigh Em

    May 27, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    You are all welcome in Turkey, not only in Cappadocia (means: land of beautiful horses)

    Lots to see and experience in my beloved country.

    May 27, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’d never heard of this place before but this definitely makes me want to go.

    May 27, 2015 at 7:51 pm

    Such beautiful writing to go with some gorgeous pictures! I definitely need to do this sometime soon! x

    Sarah Lynn
    May 27, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Stunning photos!
    Truly an experience of a lifetime! I’m really hoping for the chance to visit Turkey in the near future and follow in your footsteps.

    Grace Blake
    May 27, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I so regret not travelling to Cappadocia when I was in Turkey. There is always next time! Looks incredible Emma!!

    Jessica Doll / Team Wiking
    May 27, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    I was supposed to go in Napa, California awhile back, but there was too much wind. I was so disappointed. I’d love to go here, it’s beautiful!


    Jennifer Stevens | Adventurous Appetite
    May 27, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    I am DYING to go here! I have to make it happen sometime this year. Great photos! 🙂

    May 27, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I was in Istanbul and all the Aussies I met were hellbent on going to Cappadocia. I would love to do this but I’m afraid of heights.

    Saakshi Kumar
    May 27, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I love the pictures. They are so tempting.
    I had to go on a hot air balloon in Michigan a few days ago. Too bad I couldn’t because of the bad weather. 🙂 but this place would be definitely a perfect spot for a hot air balloon ride. 🙂

    May 27, 2015 at 11:16 am

    GAH! Turkey is definitely on my list to visit one day. This looks like a dream!
    simply stunning <3

    May 27, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Bucket list for sure!

    Kiara King
    May 27, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Oh wow Emma – that experience sounds absolutely incredible. I’d heard about and seen the hot air ballooning in Turkey before, but I’d never really read about it in depth like that. Oh, how I must experience it!

    May 27, 2015 at 9:46 am

    This was a lovely post to read!! 🙂 it sounds like this was an amazing experience! 🙂 the sightings were beautiful!!!

    I’d never heard if this place before. Gotta check it out. 🙂 the village looks very interesting too!!!

    Ps: well done on having the courage to go on a hot air balloon ride!!

    Xoxo Jessy

    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn
    May 27, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Yep, this is definitely on my bucket list! It looks absolutely gorgeous, what an amazing setting!

    May 27, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Isn’t ballooning fun? Went a few years back in Park City, Utah, whilst on holiday here. Sadly befor I had started blogging but I have the photos.


    May 27, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Oh my this looks amazing, like a travel dream come true! This is on my bucket list as well, after reading about it on another blog one time. Your pictures and descriptions have just made it a much more important and pressing dream though!!


    Nicola Easterby
    May 27, 2015 at 6:57 am

    So excited to be going here in a month! What an incredibly surreal experience, I can’t wait 🙂

    May 27, 2015 at 6:41 am

    This is something I’ve always wanted to do!


    Brittany Stopa
    May 27, 2015 at 5:57 am

    This is so unbelievable! I want to do this and it’s been on my list for some time, but it feels so very real and compelling to hear your story.

    May 27, 2015 at 5:50 am

    Stunning! The multitude of balloons with the beautiful backdrop is positively magical!

    Ellie Quinn
    May 27, 2015 at 5:39 am

    I’m so glad you posted about this as Turkey is on my list to go to this September and the hot air ballooning is one of the reasons I want to go!