It is 5:30 am; it is dark and cold, around five degrees.
I'm in the vehicle that picked me up from my hotel, heading to an exciting adventure; to fly over Cappadocia in a Hot Air Balloon.
We arrive at the Cappadocia Voyager Balloons office, where we are welcomed with excellent coffee and pastries (due to new health regulations, open buffet breakfast is not allowed).
We are divided into groups according to our flight type.
Cappadocia Voyager Balloons offers four types of flights:
Once everything is ready, we are back in the vans heading to the take-off area.
It is still dark, the stars and the moon looking at all this incredible spectacle.
The only lights are the ones from the vehicles and the fire heating the air inside the balloons.
It is a surreal moment; it feels just like a dream. When my eyes get used to the darkness, I realized that balloons surround us; I can see them all over the valley, behind the rocks formations, upon a hill. Wherever I look, I see balloons lying down or rapidly standing up, ready to fly.
Everything is perfectly organized; the teams work efficiently; the event happens very quickly.
It is impressive the coordination to put together such an incredible operation, and just before sunset, to have all balloons up in the sky: teamwork at its best.
From the people who receive the bookings, who coordinate the flights, ground crew, pilots and many other working behind the scenes.
The best is that as passengers, we witness the whole story and realize that it is a complete display that preceded the main attraction: to take a ride in a hot air balloon!!
Once the balloon is inflated and secured, the pilot already in the basket, the operations team and ground crew invited us to jump into the basket.
In this opportunity, Cappadocia Voyager Balloons upgraded to all customers who had booked a Standard Flight to an Ultra Comfort Flight: 8 people in a basket with four compartments, two people in each one, WONDERFUL!!
Here is the tip > promotion valid till April 1 st 2021 - code C2020
The balloons start taking-off from everywhere; they appear behind the hills, behind the stunning rocks formations, suddenly flying all over the valley, the show has begun.
As the balloon gains height, the sky clears, and the landscape is astonishing. Ahead 75 minutes of pure magic.
The pilot introduces himself before the balloon takes off and then goes over the landing and safety instructions.
In this opportunity, the pilot is Mr. Halis Aydogan, who happens to be one the founder of Cappadocia Voyager Balloons.
His passion is ballooning and his beloved homeland Cappadocia.
He is a storyteller, full of enthusiasm that is transmitted to all passengers during the journey.
His pilot skills are evident when smoothly he takes us from Sword Valley to Baglidere Valley (known as Love Valley), and in the midway, he rises the balloon high enough to enjoy the magical sunrise.
As the ride continues, Mr. Halis Aydogan patiently answers all our questions and tells us about Cappadocia and more details about his life.
He started introducing the region to tourists in 1996 as a licensed tour guide, and in 1998 he established his first ballooning company.
He is also a pilot instructor in his Pilot Academy (in Cappadocia).
This year, his manufacturer company Pasha Balloons Inc. was the first to design and produce a hot air balloon in Turkey.
As you can read, he is a busy man, but he always has time to do what he is most passionate about, show Cappadocia to travelers from all around the world on board of a Hot Air Balloon.
It is remarkable how he controls the balloon to take it exactly where he has planned (before the flight) to go.
Down below, we can see the Love Valley welcoming the balloons, but only the more experienced pilots can take the balloon inside the Valley and ride it along; the others can only go in and out just to have a closer look at the formidable rock formations.
It is our lucky day!! Mr. Halis Aydogan is an expert in the Valley; he has taken many travellers along this one.
We enter the Valley and enjoy the ride inside, close to the trees' top and close to the rock formations until the incredible place's landmark.
We can see the other balloons flying over the Valley and just a few ventures to come inside and join this incredible exploration inside of it. I have chosen well!
After the long flight inside the Love Valley, we rise to 1.000m to have an extraordinary view of Cappadocia and its magical landscape.
While going up, I realized that most of the balloons start landing; it is interesting to see how soft they land and how the air leaves the envelope, and the balloon became a drawing in the ground.
Ultra Comfort flights last 75 minutes, and those extra 15 minutes makes a huge difference in the whole experience.
Our flight ended in a smooth land just on the truck that carries the basket; it is just unbelievable the coordination between the pilot, ground crew and the truck driver; this maneuver took only seconds, admirable!!
We are not allowed off the basket until the ground crew have fastened and secure the balloon on the ground.
While some of them assist the passengers off the basket, the others quickly finish to deflate the balloon, fold it and put it back in the bag.
The champagne celebration is not possible due to the new health restrictions, but everyone looks very optimistic for 2021 when all these restrictions are lifted.
My big advice here is: This is going to be one of your Lifetime Adventures; do your research and choose wisely, read the reviews, get in contact with the companies you are interested in, ask as many questions as you can. Cappadocia has a large offer of Balloons Companies, and all of them are different.
I will be glad to answer any question you may have; feel free to drop me a line!
Cruise the Bosphorus Strait while enjoying a dinner and show. Enjoy a selection of food and drinks while being entertained by a Turkish night show. Admire views of Istanbul's historical buildings as they are lit up at night. Snap photos and enjoy the sparkle of the city. See the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Galata Bridge, the Rumeli Fortre