Your guide to hot air ballooning in Cappadocia - the most magical place on earth

So, that photo you have seen all over the internet of hundreds of hot air balloons hovering over an alien landscape?  That's Cappadocia.

Cappadocia was our last stop on our backpacking trip so we were exhausted, excited, and a little sad.  

Regardless, some of my favorite travel memories occurred in Cappadocia.  I mean... how can you downplay hot air ballooning?   

ARRIVING IN CAPPADOCIA: We bought round trip tickets from Istanbul Ataturk Airport to Kayseri Erkilet Airport from Pegasus Airlines.  We bought them 3 days in advance, and they were very cheap. There are many ways to arrive to Cappadocia, but time vs. cost, this was the best choice.  We did not organize transport from the airport into Goreme (the small town most people stay in) once we landed.  We just walked outside and asked people with shuttles for a ride. Looking back, we probably should have put ANY effort into organizing this beforehand.

Note: Before hiking I HIGHLY suggest you download the app maps.me and download the Turkey maps.  You will probably get lost with any other map someone gives you. 

Now, without further ado....

WHAT TO SEE IN CAPPADOCIA, TURKEY:

EVERYTHING! BUT FROM 800 METERS ABOVE THE EARTH IN A HOT AIR BALLOON...

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We booked our hot air balloon through our hotel.  For accommodations, we stayed in one of the many cave hotels in Goreme (the main tourist town in Cappadocia).  It turned out to be a curious experience.  

There are many cave hotels in Goreme.  It can be hard to choose.  I expect they are all a relatively similar experiences, so find one in your price range and book it.  

As I said, we organized our hot air balloon trip through our hotel.  Every hotel has a similar "breakfast, launch, champagne toast" deal, so it is probably easiest to do it through them (unless their prices are much higher than what you can find online).  

Hot air ballooning: 

What can I say about the flight?  It is so rare in life that your greatest expectations are met and surpassed. I expected to be wowed, and I really was.  

I will share some of my favorite pictures because I am shameless.  Pictures can't spoil it, so I don't feel bad.  If there is any way you can swing the expense, I highly suggest committing to the flight. Walking the valley really doesn't compare.  We payed $175 USD per person in October 2015.   Even as a (VERY) broke 22 year old, it was 100% worth it. 

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RED & ROSE VALLEY

One reason to see Cappadocia from above is because it is really hard to understand the geography without an ariel view.   Basically, there are different valleys and the sand formations have unique appearances in each valley.  My favorite valleys were the Rose and Red Valleys.  I loved the burnt color of the sand.   You can hike to "sunset point" which has a panorama view.  If you plan on watching the sunset from sunset point, arrange transport home. You will not be able to get back to Goreme before it gets dark on foot.   

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HONEY VALLEY/WHITE VALLEY/LOVE VALLEY

This is what you should do:

  • Pack a lunch (cheese, prosciutto, bread)
  • Use the Pigeon Valley to hike to Uchisar Castle (see below)
  • Avoid any wild dogs you see
  • Eat your lunch outside Uchisar enjoying the view
  • Hear the call to prayer echo in the valley
  • Find the trail head for the Honey Valley
  • Stop at the jewelry store outside of the trail head 
  • Take the very long way home through the Honey, White, and Love Valleys 
  • I still suggest the maps.me app  
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UCHISAR CASTLE

Looming in the distance, the fortress of Uchisar has an impressive history.   Cappadocia has been homeland for many different cultures over, idk, the past few centuries.  Remnants of these cultures, like Uchisar, are all over. Take a poke around. 

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Cappadocia speaks for itself.  The towns are very touristy, but all of that is forgotten when you leave it behind.  This is a great place to visit with someone you can talk to for hours (shoutout to my best friend/travel partner Jane). 

As always when in Turkey: drink apple tea and eat pide! 

Other things to see if you have more time:

  • any of the tours to the "underground cities"
  • Goreme Open Air Museum (you will see many churches on your hikes so not a big deal to miss)
  • honestly there is stuff to do for weeks and it will all be presented to you
  • drive a quad (if you are coordinated) 

Click to read: What to do in Kadikoy, Istanbul (Asian side)

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HAPPY GALLIVANTING!