Now Is The Time To Take A Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride!
A Cappadocia hot air balloon ride – it’s a bucket list item for tons of people. With the drop in tourism lately, the standard of 150-175 balloons flying each day in central Turkey has dropped to about 20-25 balloons. Thus, prices are at all-time lows. As Turkey is a country you can visit without needing to quarantine, it’s a great option. My wife and I recently took a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia and want to share some lessons learned. We’ll cover how to book, what should be included in your price, and what you should expect on the day of your tour.
How To Book
Cappadocia is in central Turkey and is a hot spot for hot air balloon rides. You can find a thousand websites advertising a Cappadocia hot air balloon ride. Which one should you use for booking?
None of them.
From our recent experience, you shouldn’t book online. That could be different if you’re going during a super busy time / normal tourism year. Right now, everything is different. We booked online a month in advance, and the price later dropped (twice). The company totally refused to honor the new price, so we paid more than the other people on our ride. We paid $75, while others paid $60 or even $50!
With the prices falling to all-time lows, you should just show up in Goreme, the main town for balloon rides, and visit the numerous travel agencies. Go with the lowest price. “Cash now, fly tomorrow” seems like the cheapest deal available from our asking around.
What’s Included With Your Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride?
You should not accept any booking that doesn’t include the following:
- Pick up from your hotel (if local)
- Hot air balloon ride of minimum 1 hour
- Breakfast before or after the ride, typically including celebratory champagne toast
- Drop off at your hotel
This is the standard package. For some reason, the company we used also didn’t offer the breakfast that was clearly indicated in our booking confirmation & on the website. When asked about it, they basically shrugged. I recommend not booking with them, despite the fact I booked with them from a friend’s recommendation.
Different companies run balloon flights with bigger or smaller groups and various options. You can go private (just your family / just a couple). Standard is around 10-12 people for most balloons. Some companies even run giant baskets under the balloon with 25 people crammed in! You pay less to go in a bigger group, obviously, but the $50-60 deals should get you into a balloon of 10-12 people. Given the deals going around, don’t be afraid to walk away/find another agency/haggle.
What To Expect On Flight Day
The night before your flight, the company will confirm a pick-up time with you. They’ll come anywhere from 10 minutes before to 10 minutes after. It will be before sunrise, FYI. You will go to 1 of 2 spots from there: the company office or your breakfast. You’ll pass time waiting for the aviation authority to give flight permission. This could be now, 30 minutes, an hour, or not at all. It really depends on the conditions. We waited 30 minutes before flight approval, due to some fog.
Next, you’ll go to the balloon site, where preparation is underway. Some companies offer the chance to help set up or break down the balloon, but let’s be honest that you’re mostly in the workers’ way and slowing them down. That was my perception of the people who wanted to help. It takes a full team of people to prep the balloon, attach the basket, and get ready to fly. Let them do their thing.
Tip: Where to stand in the balloon basket
Once you get in the basket, get in a corner spot! You’ll have the best views. We were towards the middle (near the pilots) and had cords in tons of our pictures. The corner spot is the best.
You should fly for a minimum of an hour. Every picture that you think is cool in the first 15 minutes will become “this picture sucks” at the end, because it just gets better as the hour goes on.
After landing, there’s traditionally a champagne toast. My wife and I don’t drink alcohol, so we didn’t care that 2 people from our balloon had a flight to catch and rushed everyone to jump in the van / get back to the hotel. People who wanted the toast were bummed it didn’t happen. You should also receive a certificate saying you did a balloon flight. My wife got one, but I was 1 of 2 people from our flight who didn’t get one. Another reason to not book with HotAirBalloonCappadocia.com – very disorganized at every stage.
From pick-up to drop-off back at your hotel, plan for 3 hours. You’ll be back at your hotel pretty early and might just go back to sleep.
Our Cappadocia hot air balloon ride, despite the issues, was magical. To be clear, I learned some things that I would’ve done differently (book in person, use a different company). It was definitely a bucket list item for us, though, and now is a great time for huge savings on flights. Typical prices range from $150-250 per person, depending on the size of your flight group and time of year. Right now, you could fly for just $50 each. I highly recommend it.