Royal Balloon Cappadocia - Best Hot Air Balloon Tour
Do you remember watching National Geographic as a kid? That particular episode in which a travel host steps into a basket, and then a fire magically causes a balloon to inflate, followed by the host kissing us goodbye as the balloon takes off the ground and flies away to glory. That was the first time I'd experienced amazement and jealousy simultaneously. I was amazed by the sheer mechanism of how the whole thing worked. And I was jealous of the host, wondering if only I'd been in his place. At that moment, the idea of pushing him mid-air from the basket to take his place seemed completely acceptable. Thankfully I recently got to experience the best hot air balloon tour in Cappadocia, Turkey without resorting to any such violence. Turkey is one of my favourite travel destinations. Now there's a reason why I say that. Because after having explored my soul city Istanbul and the naturally stunning Pamukkale, I still had a bucket list destination called Cappadocia up my sleeve in the last leg of my vacation. And doing a hot air balloon tour of Cappadocia ranked right up there in my list of must-do activities. In this blog, I'll be sharing my experience of doing the best hot air balloon tour through Royal Balloon Cappadocia.
WHY ROYAL BALLOON CAPPADOCIA?
There are hundreds of hot air balloon tour companies in Cappadocia. But Royal Balloon Cappadocia is top-rated on TripAdvisor and the best hot air balloon company out there. That's because of the following reasons:
1. Firstly, the Royal Balloon takes off from an exclusive launch site. To experience the best sunrise views, the launch area and timing make all the difference. And Royal Balloon nails both these criteria.
They take off from an isolated spot at a precise, well-planned time so when the sun rises, you get to see the most magical views of the Cappadocian landscape.
2. Secondly, the Royal Balloon pilots are masters at their craft. They take you close to the Fairy Chimneys, navigating through narrow gorges and snaggy peaks.
This way you get the best vantage point to see the unusually attractive landscape from close quarters. Besides, the pilots have a cheeky sense of humour that'll keep you entertained throughout.
3. Thirdly, unlike other hot air balloon companies, they provide you with a full buffet breakfast before your flight.
4. Fourthly, their balloons are built by two premier hot air balloon manufacturers in the world - Cameron Balloons and Lindstrand Balloons (both are UK based). The balloons are made from new generation Hyperlife Silver Coating technology which ensures the highest safety of all passengers on-board.
5. And finally, naah, let me reveal this secret service of theirs at the end.
HOT AIR BALLOON CAPPADOCIA TOUR - ROYAL BALLOON CAPPADOCIA
The tour begins with the Royal Balloon shuttle picking you up from your hotel early morning. The company gives you a pick-up time, a day in advance of your flight, based on your hotel's location. So keep in touch with them through email or your hotel's reception.
The shuttle drops you at their "Royal Balloon Headquarters" where you are treated to a sumptuous breakfast buffet. After all, who'd want to die on an empty tummy! I'm kidding. They have the Eureko Insurance policy which offers the highest insurance rate among all companies in Cappadocia. Not that you'll need it, but just saying.
You'll be doing your check-in and completing your payment at the HQ's reception. Subsequently, you'll proceed to the take-off site along with other passengers in the company's shuttle.
PREPARING FOR THE FLIGHT
Your experience begins even before the balloon takes flight as you get to see the pilot and his crew unload and assemble the balloon. Then the crew uses a powerful fire machine (that emits rousing flames) and fans to direct the flames and subsequent hot air into the balloon.
Two men stand at the opposite ends of the balloon holding it with all their strength as the balloon slowly inflates from the hot air pressure. You see a deflated balloon take shape and inflate right in front of your eyes. Then a batch of 12 people is made to enter the basket.
The pilot of the balloon announces safety instructions on a microphone as you pick your spot to sit/stand in the basket. After a playful self-countdown that you are made to do, a couple of powerful flame shots are given by the pilot, forcing the balloon to take off from the launch site.
Meanwhile, you get to see other balloons preparing to take off around you.
DURING THE FLIGHT
The flight begins as the pilot navigates the balloon close to the jagged peaks.
You are so perilously close to the volcanic rocks that you feel that you'll almost crash into them. Royal Balloon pilots sure know how to give you a minor heart attack.
It's their expert navigation skill that allows you to enjoy the natural beauty of the rocky terrain.
Gradually, the balloon rises at a comfortable height where you can see a cluster of volcanic rocks with other balloons in the background.
Soon you see the sun peeking through the clouds, with the sun rays faintly kissing the rock formations. You are left awestruck once the sun is out, as it's rays illuminate the towers, filling the dead rocky terrain with life.
The magnificent Cappadocian geography is on full display as the balloon picks up some elevation.
The reason I told you that Royal Balloon is the best is that it takes off from a launch point where you get to see the terrain and all the balloons from a distance. Therefore, you aren't a part of the hot air balloon crowd where you're surrounded by balloons and your view of the landscape and the sunrise is blocked.
The expert pilots skillfully traverse the terrain, reducing the altitude a couple of times. This allows you to admire the caves, rocks, valleys and colourful balloons filling the morning sky from a close distance.
At full elevation, the sight of several balloons filling the sky against the mesmerising backdrop of Cappadocia's natural beauty is one to behold.
You also get to see the famous "Fairy Chimneys" in all their glory, some of them looking like mushrooms and some of them, well, like male genitals.
All you can do is absorb this phantasmagorical view, as the cold breeze kisses your face and the sun smiles at you. I can confidently say that the panoramic views of Cappadocia are the best in entire Turkey.
It's stuff that dreams are made of, my friend. Breathtaking views of the valley fill your heart with joy and delight as you aimlessly float in the air, drifting over rock formations and flirting with clouds.
After a 60 minute flight, the pilot makes the balloon land expertly on the back of a truck.
POST THE FLIGHT
Now the post-landing tradition was a surprise for all of us. This is their secret service I told you I'll mention at the end.
The staff served us champagne and chocolate-coated strawberries as treats to celebrate a successful flight.
They also awarded gold medals, as mementos to all passengers for surviving the journey. We were given a Royal baseball cap and a miniature hot air balloon as gifts to take back home. And thus, our Royal Hot Air Balloon tour of Cappadocia came to an end.
- They have different packages based on your preference and budget.
- I chose the Royal Queen package where the flight time is 60 minutes. It cost me 180 Euros but was well worth the experience. You can check out their packages and get in touch with them for bookings by clicking here.
CONCLUSIONHot air ballooning is one activity that appeals to kids and adults alike. It transports us into a magical world where our wanderlust takes flight. I thoroughly enjoyed the hot air balloon experience with Royal Balloon and suggest you opt for them too if you're in Cappadocia.
At the end of the day, all you want from travel are unforgettable memories and Royal Balloon ensures that you have the time of your life!
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