There’s always the fear when you finally do something that you’ve been anticipating for so long that it won’t be worth it.
Maybe it will be a let down. Maybe it was overhyped.
This wasn’t one of those times.
To be honest, this wasn’t always on my bucket list but it was number one on my friends list so I went along begrudgingly, complaining about the cost and the 5:00 a.m. wake up time. For all of my hesitancy and complaining this would end up being one of the highlights of more than two years of travel.
We were up before sunrise to meet our transport at 5:30 a.m. Half awake and rubbing sleep out of our eyes we were taken to the offices of Rainbow Balloons to pay, be assigned a balloon, and have a small breakfast. We were then back in the transport van and being driven to the launch site.
Upon arrival we found the pilots and handlers already inflating the balloons in a scene of organized chaos. Huge flames shot into the colorful balloons, which were laying scattered and limp across the field, causing the balloons to slowly start to expand. As the balloons were near fully inflated the handlers assisted the guests into the baskets before releasing them to the sky.
Our balloon initially had trouble getting properly inflated, despite the efforts of more than a half dozen crew members. We were still on the ground fearing we would miss the sunrise even as other balloons were being launched. The pilot and handlers quickly remedied the situation and got us up into the air.
I’m not exactly afraid of heights but I don’t love them either. As we ascended, quickly leaving the ground behind, I couldn’t resist looking over the edge and suffering a bit of vertigo. Before I had time to start freaking myself out the views quickly stole all of my attention.
The pilot had us bobbing up and down through the valley, sometimes barely skimming over the tree tops and sometimes soaring higher than the balloons nearest us. I managed to keep my nerves down for most of the ride but when the pilot would have the balloons “kiss” I was sure we were going to crash.
We spent the next hour hardly speaking, floating above some of the most amazing landscape I have ever seen. As the sun rose and became brighter the views became even more outstanding.
It wasn’t until the pilot had safely landed us that we could fully process all that we had just seen. I’ve since been to two other destinations that offer hot air ballooning (Bagan, Myanmar and Luxor, Egypt) and both times decided against it. The bar has been set too high, this experience was too perfect.
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We went with Rainbow Balloons and I highly recommend them as they were completely professional and the experience was safe and hassle free. The cost was 175 euros per person, which is comparable to the other companies. There is a discount if you pay cash rather than using a debit or credit card.
We stayed with Amor Cave House in Ürgüp. Ürgup is the town that neighbors Göreme which is where the balloons launch from. The hotel was nice and included a basic breakfast but what makes me recommend this hotel to everyone planning to visit Cappadocia is the staff. From the moment we arrived until our departure the staff went out of their way to make our stay the best possible. They are friendly, knowledgeable and truly went above and beyond.
Photo credits: All photos in this article credited to Bo Borisov.