/ The Istanbul Guide
Istanbul — By Nellie Huang on April 28, 2010 at 7:14 pm
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Hot-Air Ballooning Cappadocia

Floating mid-air, we slowly rise above the sharp peaks of oddly-shaped fairy chimneys to find the rosy red sun in our faces. We are atop a hot-air balloon, flying above one of the best ballooning spots in the world: Cappadocia.

Cappadocia is known for its mystical landscapes dotted with over thousands of conical rock formations, making it a perfect spot for slow and relaxing flying. The sprawling area is legendary, nothing quite like this exists elsewhere in the world. More than 65 million years ago, the nearby volcanoes had exploded, spewing out massive amounts of volcanic ash and rocks to produce these strange unworldly formations. Today, they still poke out into the skies, blessing travelers with a phenomenal site to explore and uncover.

Best Way to See Cappadocia

Just 1.5hours by flight from Istanbul, Cappadocia is easily accessible and makes for one of the quintessential sights in Turkey. Blessed with historical cave churches, extraordinary natural formations and underground cities, there is plenty to see in the region. Take a weekend or a week to see the entire area where pockets of surprises await. Whether you are hiking through the colossal rock towers of Pigeon Valley, or wandering through the orthodox churches of Goreme open-air Museum, the best way to see Cappadocia by far is from above.

Rosy and Relaxing Experience

Hot-air ballooning gives one the experience of rising above the conical rocks and admiring the volcanic lands from the skies. The ballooning experience catches me by surprise as it languidly glides through the air, taking flight slowly and relaxingly. There was no hair-raising airborne experience, the basket just inches its way higher and higher at a leisurely pace. At first, we float inches away from the sandy-brown fairy chimneys, almost as if our basket was going to crash right into the rock formations. Soon enough, our pilot, Halis, brings us sky-high, pointing out the landmarks and interesting points that mark this area.

What’s more, the flight takes place at sunrise, when the first rays peek through the clouds. There’s nothing more romantic than flying above green patches of fields and brown protruding rock towers and right into the warmth of the sleepy sun. Hand in hand with your loved one, you feel your cheeks rosy from the sun that is rising just inches ahead of you.

tn_IMG_4105 A Champagne to End the Voyage

After the one-hour flight, we celebrate with a traditional champagne toast and are presented with a flight ascension certificate. It’s all smiles. Everyone wears a look of awe and bewilderment. Nothing quite compares to this airborne experience, especially so in Cappadocia – a magical place unlike no other on this planet.

How to Get to Cappadocia

From Istanbul, you can catch domestic flights to Kayseri, the nearest airport. Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines fly this route regularly. Alternatively, you can also catch a night train that takes around 10 hours to do the same route. From Kayseri, you can easily arrange a transfer with your hotel (US$20) or an airport shuttle ($10 each).

Prices of Balloon Flights

Each standard flight (1-hour) costs 160 euros per person, children under 6 pay half the price, 80 euros. This rate includes full insurance, transportation and certificate. Other packages are also offered – such as the deluxe package (250 euros) that is slightly longer (1.5hours) and limited to only 8 persons per basket; and the exclusive package (900 euros for two) for a private ballooning experience for the two of you, in-flight champagne service and private picnic celebration after the flight.

Cappadocia Voyager Balloons

Website: www.voyagerballoons.com

Email: fly@voyagerballoons.com

Address: Kagniyolu Mevkii 50180 Göreme, Nevsehir

Tel: + 90 532 717 5050/ + 90 384 271 3030

Fax: + 90 384 271 3031

Photo credits: author’s own Nellie Huang

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