Cappadocia Hot air Balloons (Guide 2021):Does it Really Worth it?
The Cappadocia Hot air Balloons has to be on each traveler to Turkey bucket list. I did the balloon ride in Myanmar several times and now it was time for me to try the balloon experience in Cappadocia, Turkey as well.
The balloon ride in Turkey had some turbulent times in the past. In 2014 one chinese tourist have died and 5 malay people got injured and in 2013 two Brazilian have died while 2 balloons have collated. More recently in 2017 another 2 people have died and more than 50 tourist got injured. Since them things have improved and no major accident happened in the past years. I remember after doing the Balloons over Bagan ride back in 2018 at the landing & ceremony point one tourist from Turkey was present and started to talk with him about the safety issues in Cappadocia. He told me that before the crashes it was a bit of chaos in the air and on the ground; one day when the wind was a bit too strong and pilots decided to cancel the balloon ride the owner of one company just pointed a gun at the pilot demanding to go up in the air as he owns the company! Things have changed since them and most of the pilots do decide when it’s safe to fly or not and some companies in Cappadocia have ISO Certification.
Booking Experience Balloon Cappadocia
I traveled in May 2019 to Turkey and spend 3 days in total in Cappadocia; maybe 4 days would haven been OK to stay as many things can be done in Cappadocia on a slow pace in order to enjoy the surroundings as well.
It was the beginning of the high season in Turkey and Cappadocia and seats are limited for the balloon ride even if there can be more than 150 balloons in the air in the same time in the air. It’s almost impossible to have an online booking and instant confirmation with the balloon companies in Cappadocia. Most of them prefer to work directly with the local hotels, local travel agencies as an cartel (as mentioned more below) is formed in Cappadocia and it’s a big family where same owner has the hotel, travel agency and balloon company.
So they want to keep all between them and not to give the extra comission to other parties. Plus they prefer the cash method not the online payment (probably for tax evasion). So after 4 to 5 unsuccessful mails in terms of availability (wanted on a specific day and in a small balloon – no more than 16 places) decided to go with the hotel offer packages I have received (airport transfer, day tours and the balloon ride with a discount if paid cash)
The morning of the balloon had come and the alarm clock rang at 3am in the morning as my wife needs an extra time for the make up part and nice dressing. I need only 10 minutes to wake up and get dressed so waited for the pick up car outside while my wife was getting ready. Around 4am the pick up van came and collect us from the hotel. Already had the money ready to pay but they said not here. Arrive at the Butterfly Balloons office in Cappadocia where we headed in line to one office to pay for the balloon ride.
I was a bit strange as used with the nice way of dealing with my clients for the balloon ride in Bagan (all before the ride – at least 7 / 30 days mostly by credit card or bank transfer) . We paid 360 Euro for 2 persons (balloon ride for the Butterfly Ballooning price was 180 Euro per person with the 10 Euro discount for the cash payment – probably the hotel commission); still was a good price as most of the balloon companies in Cappadocia have more of less the same price.
Pre Flight Experience Cappadocia Hot air Balloons
After payment we headed to another solon where a light breakfast was served. Around 50 person were ready to jump to have some meal before the balloon ride. It was mostly desert (cakes), fruits (banana, strawberry) and a cheese pie which was the most popular dish. Coffee and some croissants were served as well. Usually I am not to hungry when I wake up too early but managed to try from each type a bit. Liked the more the cheese pie.
Then we were told the name of our pilot and the car number which we have to go. After 45 minutes (many people already finished the breakfast) but we were still staying inside as it was quite cold outside we were taken to the park area where all the cars & pilots were waiting for us. Then we headed to the taking off point! The excitement was started to grow. Weather was not that good at the beginning of May and many days got canceled due to bad weather including the flight one day before so we were a bit nervous as we were told from the hotel that the next day it was fully booked as well due to the cancelation reason as many people reschedule their balloon ride.
Pre Balloon Ride Experience Cappadocia
After another 20 minutes in the car we have arrived at the take off point. How can I describe it: organized chaos! Since in Bagan there are only 4 balloons companies and in Cappadocia more than 25 companies and 150 balloons it’s not that easy to find the same spot every day and taking into consideration the terrain which is not very flat.
We stayed another 10 minutes in the car; just waiting. The sunrise was almost coming and some balloons were already in the air. Then I found out that they are 2 slots available for the take off; just before the sunrise (when most of the balloons are in the air) and 1 hour after sunrise (when fewer balloons are up in the air). While they started to inflate our balloon we were permitted to exist the car and head close to the balloon – no barriers or protection were present, only a sign not to transpass so not too much safety form this point of view.
We were in balloon very fast; the baskets are split into 5 sections – 4 squares which each fit 4 people and one larger one for the pilot. I know the best position to take photos and see more was in the corner so managed to get a pretty good spot. Sun was almost up but we were not in the air already; I was a bit disappointed with this to be honest. Even when we have arrived at the take off point some balloons were already in the air and we stayed from the point of view too much at the breakfast area.
We were explained the safety standard measure for take off and landing position but not too much explanation; I was expecting more to be honest due to the past accidents in Cappadocia.
Hot Air Balloons Cappadocia: Flight Experience
I would divide the flight experience into 2 categories; first (super excitement) and second (quite boring).Flying over the fairy chimneys with a hot air balloon in Cappadocia is an awesome experience. I really liked the first part when we can literally see the people from the other balloons, can see how big they are and can at some point touch the rocks beneath you!
We did fly the famous Fairy Chimneys, Monk’s Valley, Imagination Valley, pigeon houses, plenty of cave houses and vineyards. The landscape changed every few minutes.
Deverant valley, Zelve Valley, Rose Valley, and Red Valley were other amazing location we have passed and seen from above.
I enjoyed the most passing throw the first part of the balloon ride throw a tight valley when you can almost see and touch the ground. At the end of the valley it was the magic moment where you can see almost all the other balloons in the sky; and maybe this is why the reason we have started a bit late; to be able to see that magic photo which appears on most on the websites related to balloon ride in Cappadocia.
Once we have left the valley things have started to get a bit boring; most of the pittoresque area was gone and we can only see the fast plateau; from time to time some chimneys appeared could take a nice shot. The other balloons were now quite far away and some already have started the descent.
At the end when you have reach the Love Valley things started to be nicer; from above all the rocks look like big penisis in erection which put smiles on all the people faces in the balloon.
Most of the time the landing spot is decided by the wind direction; it seems that in Cappadocia the wind has more or less the same direction every day and the landed location is know already in advance by the pilot. How do I know this? Because we have landed directly on the back of the car and close to the celebration area. I mean, we do need some skills to be able to land exactly on that fix spot! When you land on the ground it can be a bit shaky and if the balloon has a bit of speed can be dangerous as well. But landing on the car made the landing risks close to 0. Not sure if all the balloon companies do land on the car or ground but this was a very nice landing to he honest!
Celebration & Gifts
At then end a short festivity was put in place. We were give some gifts and one medal and cake, juice and champagne as well. While we were waiting for the show to finish we made some photos around the area;
Booking Cappadocia Hot air Balloons
Our Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia cost us €180 per person. Payment is made in cash at the time of booking. If your flight is cancelled, they will put you on another flight the next day or refund you. While this may sound expensive it is significantly cheaper than many other similar hot air balloon trips around the world that can easily top €300 as it is in Bagan, Myanmar for example. It is a truly great experience at a very good price.
Best Deals can be found online on GETYOURGUIDE.
Best Season for the Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia
The best time of year to go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia is from April to November as the most favorable weather conditions are during these months. Because of strong winds most of the flight cancellations take place from December to March when the weather is cold as well; I don’t want to imagine how cold is in winter time as it was quite cold at the beginning of May. But it the same time in the low season and winter the landscape is more different: having snow covering the area might give the balloon ride a different perspective; plus there are not so many tourists and price is lower than the high season.
April to October: Most favorable time for the hot air balloons in Cappadocia with warm nights, clear skies and cool air.
November to February: If you do visit in February the weather is a bit more up and down but you have the chance to fly over snow, which would be a once in a lifetime experience.
Duration of Flight
Flights can last anywhere between 45 minutes to two hours. It depends on who company. you book your tour with. Standard flights are the cheapest one and last around 1 hour. The premium flights tend to cost more (around 220 Euro) but can last up to 2 hours. To be honest I think 1 hour is more than enough for the balloon ride in Cappadocia.
Hot Air Balloon Cappadocia Companies
Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia is incredible not only because of the unique and rugged landscape, but also because the balloons fly approximately 250 days of the year, compared to about 60 days elsewhere in Europe.
One change in 2018 was that 17 of the 25 companies formed a kind of cooperative so that they all charge the same prices. Eight of the companies remained independent.
Slot? and Basket size? There are 2 flights or “slots” each morning. The first is at sunrise and the second is an hour later. The maximum is 100 balloons in the air so the companies have been given a certain number of “slots” they can use. The numbers given represent the number of balloons they get for the first and second slot respectively.
Air Kapadokya – Begin operating back in 2013 and currently they are operating in 5 balloons. Size of their basket capacity is 4, 12, 18, 20, 24 passengers. Most of their pilots are turkish nationality and they do speak english as well. They offer free / basic breakfast before the balloon ride. Balloon color of Air Kapadokya: Yellow
TripAdvisor Reviews 339 (Rating 4.5)
Assiana Balloons – they started to operate in 2012 and are having at this moment 4 balloons which the capacity of 18 and 20 seats. The pilots speak English, Arabic, Turkish. Breakfast is free of charge and it’s basic. All of their balloons are new and products of Cameron Balloons that is considered to be as one of best hot air balloon producer and were factory-made in England. Balloon color: Green
TripAdvisor Reviews 206 (Rating 4.5)
Atlas Balloon Cappadocia is small boutique company with 3 new 2016 manufactured hot air balloons. Their first balloon ride in Cappadocia was in 2012. They do serve a buffet breakfast. They are the same company as Voyager Ballooning Cappadocia. Their size baskets is 2, 6, 16, 20, 24 passengers which are being used in terms of demand of that day. Balloon color: Rainbow
TripAdvisor Reviews 3 (Rating 5)
Butterfly Balloons – with 6 balloons operating is one of the largest balloon operator in Cappadocia, Turkey. Hot air balloon flights in Cappadocia become first-class with Butterfly Balloons when they started operating in 2010. The offer best price , experienced team and a great balloon ride. Their pilots speak english, turkish and Spanish and more and more spanish people do the balloon ride in Turkey. Their balloon capacity in terms of size is from 6 to 16 person maximum. Their breakfast is basic and includes fruits as well. Balloon color: White & Blue.
TripAdvisor Reviews 2399 (Rating 5)
Royal Balloons – established in year 2010 by the Cappadocian Dinler Family who are Tourism Professionals with over 30 years of experience. Royal Balloon is an ISO 9001 Certified Ballooning Company operates Luxury & High Quality Balloon Flights in Cappadocia which separates them from the other Balloon companies in Cappadocia. Their total fleet consist of 11 balloons with a basket range from 6 to 16 capacity. They serve a consistent breakfast buffet. The duration of the flight is 1 hour (for the Queen Flights) and 90 minutes (for their King Balloon Flights). Their pilots do have a lot of experience in terms of years and hours of flight.
TripAdvisor Reviews 3300 (Rating 5)
THK Ballooning Cappadocia – one of the first company to start operating in Cappadocia in 1997 and operating in the balloon business since 1983 are very experienced company. The have a total number of balloons of 12 but only 4 operating in Cappadocia. The other 2 are in Pamukkale and one in Polatlı region. The remaining 6 balloons are being carried out all over Turkey depending on private balloon rides requests. size baskets for THK Ballooning 2, 12, 15, 20 passengers. They do offer basic breakfast before the balloon ride. Balloon color: Silver
TripAdvisor Reviews 64 (Rating 4.5)
Turquaz Balloons is a hot air ballooning operator company in Goreme Cappadocia Turkey sister and company of Butterfly Balloons. They first started to operate in 2013 and currently they have 3 balloons flying every day of the sky of Cappadocia. Basket size: 4 person, 8 person, 16 person and breakfast is included in the package. Color: Turquaz & White
TripAdvisor Reviews 655 (Rating 5)
Ürgüp Balloon – Founded in 2008, Urgup Balloon has become one of the leading hot air balloon companies in the Cappadocia, increasing its service quality and operations every year. Today they operate 14 balloons and their basket size is from 12, 16, 20, and 28 passengers (being only from a few which operates with so many passangers in the basket!) With more than 60 employees and a fleet of 14 balloons, they continue to decorate Cappadocia skies with the mission of providing different flying and a privileged balloon flight service for their tourists.Their pilots came with a minimum 5 years experience and breakfast is included in the price.
TripAdvisor Reviews 1862 (Rating 5)
Voyager Balloons Cappadocia Voyager Balloons is a hot air ballooning company in Cappadocia, Turkey that specializes in “boutique” flights; even if the basket capacity is 20 they don’t use all the space and make it less people in the basket. They have a fleet of 12 balloons; 4, 10, 12, 16, 20, & 28 passengers is their maximum basket capacity which is used depending on the demand. Their pilots have hundreds of hours of experience and speak English, Portuguese, Japanese, & Turkish. Balloon color: White
TripAdvisor Reviews 1439 (Rating 5)
Cooperative Balloon Companies in Cappadocia
When I was searching online for the price & availability for the balloon ride in Cappadocia I was surprised to see that many of the balloon companies had the same or very similar price which is a normal industry looks a bit strange. Then after doing more research found out that they are part of a group, cooperative in order to keep the price as they would like. I would call it more a cartel rather than a cooperative. Price of the balloon ride in Cappadocia was around 80 Euro a few years ago and went up to 180 Euro in the year of 2021. So it more than doubled! It’s still low compared with the balloon ride in Myanmar but there are some difference between the locations which I will explain later. Having a cartel means the other companies will not be able to rise the price (have better services or add ons for example) while the cartel companies which most of them are family related (the business way in Turkey) can make most of the profit!
Anatolian Balloons -Cappadocia Anatolian Balloons is one of the famous balloon company in Cappadocia region in Turkey. Anatolian balloon rides are flying daily in Cappadocia. They own and operate 10 balloons and they are saying that makes us one of the largest operators of our kind in the world. Balloons over Bagan do have more than 16 balloons and I think they are the biggest balloon operator in the world. They started to operate back 2006 and their basket size is 12 and 20 persons. They have 3 flights type: Standard, Comfort and Deluxe with the later up to 90 minutes. Color: Red & White
TripAdvisor Reviews 607 (Rating 5)
Atmosfer Balloons is a leader among the professional hot air balloon companies in Cappadocia thanks to its experienced and skilled team of professionals. Atmosfer Balloons flies with brand new vehicles that are custom-designed by Spanish company, Ultra Magic. They have a total number of 10 balloons which are operating since 2009. Luxury ( 8/14 person), Standard ( 16/24 person) and Special Flight (private) are their main balloon packages.
TripAdvisor Reviews 971 (Rating 5)
Balloon Turca Cappadocia Balloon Turca is the official licenced Hot Air Ballooning company in Cappadocia, Turkey, like all the balloon companies in Cappadocia. They started to operate in 2009 and have a number of 5 balloons at this moment. They do serve basic breakfast before the balloon ride. Balloon color: Red & White (similar with turkish flag)
TripAdvisor Reviews 236 (Rating 4.5)
Cihangiroğlu Balloons are a small operator in Cappadocia with 4 balloons which have the capacity of 16, 16 and 28 seats in the basket. Compared with most of the balloon companies in Cappadocia which serve the breakfast at their offices they do in on the taking off point which is more nicer. Like most of the balloons operators in Cappadocia they prefer the cash options before the flight rather than credit card or online booking ( I guess is tax related) and do offer a discount if paid in cash. Color: Orange
TripAdvisor Reviews 133 (Rating 4.5)
Deluxe Balloons Cappadocia , like their name is saying they are focused more on the private, quality and less people in the basket not on the profit side to put as many people in the balloon basket. They have only 3 balloons and started to operate quite late in 2013. Their balloon size is 20, 12 and a maximum 4 person. Open buffet breakfast is available before the balloon ride. Color: White & Red
TripAdvisor Reviews 162 (Rating 4.5)
Discovery Balloons is one of the biggest balloon operator in Cappadocia having up to 18 balloons with a total capacity of 300 person a day. They are using Lindstrand Balloons from the UK and Ultramagic Balloons from Spain. Their maximum capacity without the pilot is 32 people in the basket (the biggest number from all operators in Cappadocia), Breakfast is more a snack and includes Tea, coffee and biscuits which are provided at the launch site before the flight and are one of the most expensive as well ( 250 Euro). Balloon Color: Red
TripAdvisor Reviews 149 (Rating 5)
Göreme Balloons is one of the pioneering companies for passenger balloon rides in the Cappadocia which began operating back in 2008. Goreme Balloons offers you 5 types of balloon tours and kids are 6 are free of charge as per their website which is a bit odd as many balloons companies have a age limit!2, 16, 20, 24, 28 passengers is their total basket capacity and their pilots speak English, Turkish, German, & Japanese. Balloon Color: Orange
TripAdvisor Reviews 363 (Rating 5)
Istanbul Balloons with 4 balloons and 5 pilots it’s a small size balloon company in Cappadocia. Their pilots have on average 6 years experience and are locals. 12, 16, 18, 20, 28 passengers is their balloon size maximum capacity and they do offer 3 balloon ride services: Standard(balloons accommodate 16-24-28 passengers) Comfort ( Balloons accommodate 8-16 passenger) and Deluxe (balloons accommodate 8 passengers). Balloons color: Red & White
TripAdvisor Reviews 565 (Rating 5)
Kapadokya Balloons is the second oldest hot air balloon company in Cappadocia and have started to operate back in 1991! With a fleet of 22 balloons of varying capacities, we are proud to be the largest hot air balloon company in the world. 11 balloons are with a capacity of 20 persons, 9 balloons are with a capacity of 12/16 persons and 2 balloons with no more than 8 persons. Snacks and beverage service before the flight are included in all of their balloon packages.Balloons color: Yellow, Turquiz
TripAdvisor Reviews 2013 (Rating 5)
Kaya Balloons founded in 2005, Cappadocia has 10 balloons to be one of the first balloon companies; beside these they do have a balloon piloting school in Turkey, one of the kind. Lindstrand (UK) and Ultramagic (Spain) are their main balloon supplier.Deluxe Kaya flight with its specially selected take-off points, and with the long flight you can take plenty of pictures and get the chance to see more places and has a capacity of 16/20 person. Their premium flight balloon capacity is up to 28 person in the basket and the price is 200 Euro per person.
TripAdvisor Reviews 839 (Rating 5)
Rainbow Balloons operates with 8 balloons in Cappadocia and have been operating since 2012. Balloons has all the necessary training and expertise to make your hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia in Turkey.2.700 Euro is the Private Balloon Flight if you want to celebrate your birthday in style. Their normal price starts from 185 Euro per person. Color: White & Rainbow
TripAdvisor Reviews 430 (Rating 5)
Skyway Balloons has a number of 6 balloons and are being in operation since 2017. Cameron and Kubicek Balloons are their main balloon providers. Buket Aydınlık is a female pilot (not so many in this world of balloon pilots) and the only one in Cappadocia so it would be lucky to have her as a pilot. Their Standard Hot Air Balloon Flight in Cappadocia has a 16-20-28 capacity. Deluxe Hot Air Balloon Flight has a maximum capacity of 16 persons and light breakfast is included before the departure to the taking off point. Balloon color: White
TripAdvisor Reviews 348 (Rating 5)
Sultan Balloons has a balloon fleet of 9 with 3-5-12-16-20 which makes them more specialized in private balloon ride as birthday days or proposing in the sky!The crew is very qualified on take-off and landings and also on safety regulations. They have an unique program called wedding in the sky – priest is included as well and all the important quest you can bring to your wedding – not sure if popular with local or foreigners this package. Balloon color: Blue
TripAdvisor Reviews 21 (Rating 4.5)
Turkiye Balloons operating since 2013 by four of the best chief pilots in the region and have a number of 5 balloons which are operating both in Cappadocia and Goreme. Balloon Color: Yellow
TripAdvisor Reviews 946 (Rating 5)
Universal Balloon is established in 2013 at Cappadocia and it is one of the newest and proud operating balloon company in the area. They operate the flights every day,early in the morning and during the sunset if the weather permits us to fly. The company has 5 balloons with 4 pilots that it is kind a boutique ballooning company to provide the best and most attentive service to our valuable guests from the first and last minutes of journey. The baskets capacity are between 2 pax to 20 pax,it allows you to easily and comfortable move in basket for getting a nice shot of the area. Breakfast,tea & coffee are included in their flight package of 175 Euro/person. Balloon Color: White & Orange
TripAdvisor Reviews 124 (Rating 4. 5)