While in Cappadocia, we took advantage of the numerous hot air balloons trips over the fairy chimneys.
It really was the trip of a lifetime. I am not an adrenaline junkie, I don’t do bungee jumping, white water rafting or abseiling down the side of a mountain and while I really don’t like heights, I did want to go in a hot air balloon. After all, it is one of the activities that is listed as not to be missed.
We were woken at the ungodly hour of 4.30am and somehow managed to be washed dressed and out of the door on autopilot. We arrived at the takeoff site and there were only about half a dozen balloons capsized on the ground, some looked as if they were fast asleep and others were slowly awakening and ruffled and rolled on the ground as huge flames created hot air to fill them. It’s fascinating to watch then being unfurled and slowly get larger and larger.
By 6am, 16 of us scrambled into our basket, it was a little tricky to get everyone in as the basket is from floor to chest level with no steps but in the end we managed it. The basket is divided into four section with 4 people in each and slowly we inched our way up towards the sky. It is only as the balloon slowly gains altitude and we start to climb at a very languid pace that we notice there are more and more balloons joining us.
Suddenly as the sun starts to rise and the sky changes from black to red, we could see not ten, not twenty but a hundred balloons rise into the clear skies all at once. It was a fantastic sight. At times, the basket gets so close to the tops of the magical fairy chimneys as they pierce the skyline that we hold our breath and watch in wonderment. By the time we edge past the colossal cliffs and volcanic rocks, the sun is shining and casting bright rays on the land below us. It is only then that we realise we are reaching altitudes of almost 3,000m above the ground.
All too soon, the flight came to an end, our skilled pilot landed the basket elegantly onto the trailer being pulled by a 4 x 4 and then comes our inelegant descent. No steps, just a scramble, a deep breath and two strong men to help us back to terra firma. Once down, we are offered a glass of champagne to celebrate and we received our flight certificates.
So was the flight all it was cracked up to be. Oh yes, it is a magical dream like experience floating above this extraordinary landscape at dawn and watching the sunrise even the most hardened of travellers could not fail to be impressed.