We have all concluded that Cappadocia is the best place on earth that any one of us has flown in a hot air balloon. And among this well traveled group we've flown over the Serengeti, Kings Valley of Egypt, and other beautiful locations. It's not just my opinion, but everyone in the group highly recommends to any other future Wildland travelers not to miss this incredible flight! We offer it as an optional activity, and it leaves early enough in the morning that it typically doesn't interfere with other programmed events during our stay in Cappadocia. Most of us booked the flight in advance as part of our Wildland Adventure and by the time we arrived the rest of the space on that flight was fully booked when Don and Eve decided they wanted to go. But, as it turned out, we had enough people in our group that the balloon outfitter offered us a later flight as a private group of 13 together in one basket.
Our pilot, Ismail, was amazing. We took off from a ridge top promontory with deep canyons dropping off from each side. It was spectacular looking out across the landscape of Love Valley and the Rose Valley where we had hiked the day before among the rock spires, deep lush valleys of grape vines and pumpkin patches, and hues of red and yellow horizons in the soil aglow in the morning light. All across the landscape dozens upon dozens of colorful balloons were floating deep in the canyons and high above in the blue sky.
The wind was blowing gently so Ismail deftly dropped our balloon down below the canyon rim of Rose Valley allowing us to drift slowly a few feet above the tree tops quietly between the canyon allowing us to peer straight into pigeon holes, cave homes and rock monasteries carved into the cliffsides that we could only see at a distance from below on the trail the previous day. As we floated up the valley and the canyon walls narrowed we thought for sure the basket would scrape against the side but Ismail actually cleared it with precision by just a few feet. Out of the valley we ascended several thousand feet and then Ismail realized we had a chance to drop back down into the Goreme Open Air Museum, a major tourist hub of rock carved monasteries elaborately painted with Christian frescoes. The balloon descended close the rooftops of buses as we glided above the road. Tourists got great photos of our massive balloon against the beautiful landscape backdrop, and we got a free entrance with a birds-eye view into the Goreme Open Air Museum.