As the sun rises over Goreme, hundreds of colorful hot air balloons fill the sky. Their journey is a quick one, but it’s magical. Whether you decide to fly in a balloon in Cappadocia or partake in the experience from the ground, you will not regret this sunrise. Keep reading to find out why I didn’t take a Cappadocia hot air balloon ride and discover 6 of the best viewpoints if you decide to sit one out as well!
Is a Cappadocia Hot Air Ballon Ride Safe?
While I was in Cappadocia, several people contacted me regarding the safety of the hot air balloon rides. Yes, there have been accidents in the past, but 100’s of balloons fly over Cappadocia every single day. The statistics of something going wrong are extremely low.
To fly a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, a pilot needs two separate licenses. They’ve had at least 15 months and 200 hours of training, at which point they are then they hired for mentoring. Pilots are required to renew their license every 2 years and undergo medical checks every 5 years.
It’s a serious business, their livelihood, and safety is a top concern among the balloon companies. The Turkish Government has also set regulations as to how many balloons are allowed to be in the sky at one time, they require GPS to be in each balloon, and even require pilots to speak a certain level of English. Companies are also required to test their balloons and log their results regularly.
If you’re concerned about safety, choose a reputable company and request their most experienced pilot. Don’t miss out on something because of fear. Miss out on it because 24 people floating in small basket, all jockeying to take the same photo sounds miserable.
Which Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Company?
Before I decided against taking a balloon ride, I thoroughly researched all of the major companies in the area. Royal and Butterfly Balloons ended up being my top two choices. While these companies are not the cheapest in Cappadocia, their stats, safety record and experience justify their price point.
Royal Balloons is #1 Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon company on TripAdvisor. They seem extremely concerned about safety and they have some of the most experienced pilots. Their balloons are built by the Cameron Balloons & Lindstrand Balloons, the most prestigious hot air balloon producers in the world. Their standard balloon flight has a maximum of 16 passengers, so you won’t be overly crowded in a basket.
Butterfly Balloons is a boutique Cappadocia hot air balloon company. Like Royal Balloons, safety is their #1 concern. They have excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and were the balloon company of choice for Rick Steves when he was in Cappadocia. Who doesn’t trust Rick Steves? Butterfly Balloons also has their balloons custom made by Cameron Balloons in the UK, as well Ultramagic in Spain. Their maximum basket capacity is also 16 people.
(These are not sponsored endorsements).
Another great resource for choosing a company to fly with: CaptivatingCappadocia.com took the liberty of interviewing and comparing every Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon company. Check it out here
Why I Decided Against a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride
A Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon ride has held a high ranking spot on my bucket list for years. It’s always been my dream to spend the morning floating over Goreme, so I actually surprised myself by making the decision not to do this.
Price + Basket Capacity
Price doesn’t usually play a large factor in my decision not to do something, especially if it’s on a bucket list adventure. However after checking with several balloon companies in Cappadocia, I was surprised at how expensive the balloon rides are. For a standard flight, prices averaged from 100-140 euro per person. This is doable but the capacity on a standard flight is between 16-24 people! While there are separate compartments in the basket (fitting up to 6 people each), that’s still too crowded for me. I also didn’t want to risk spending that much money and not getting a spot at the edge of a basket. Alternatively, you have the option of arranging for a deluxe flight which fits between 8-16 people in a basket, and those range from 175-250 euro per person.
Most of the flights are only an hour long, so I didn’t feel the cost would be worth it this time around. When I can afford a private balloon ride over Cappadocia, I will definitely be back.
Photos are a major driving factor in many of my travel decisions. When researching the best photos of the balloons, I realized that my favorite images were taken from the ground.
While the view of Goreme from above would undoubtedly make for good pictures, I preferred the sweeping panorama of the entire scene from a distance.
6 of the Best Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Viewpoints to Watch from the Ground
Sunset point is the most popular lookout in Goreme. Situated directly above the town, this spot will give you one of the best panoramic views of the balloons. It’s a short trek if you don’t have a car, so plan on leaving early to make sure you get there in time to grab a good spot.
Also check out Sunset Point during sunset. There’s a little cafe up there that serves beer and wine.
Red Valley Panoramic Viewpoint
Esentepe Panoramic Viewpoint
Balloon Launch Zone
This view requires an additional step, but it’s worth it to get some close up photos of the hot air balloons taking off. Since the balloon companies alternate their launch sites depending on the weather conditions, you’ll need to contact them the day before to see where they’ll be launching the next morning. Try and find some elevated ground near the launch site and watch the balloons rise over the valley.