Cappadocia – Magical Hot Air Balloon Ride with Royal Balloon

When I first saw photos of Cappadocia, the sky full of hot air balloons wowed me. Since then, Cappadocia has been on my bucket list so we were super excited and looking forward to this trip. After extensive research and reading through reviews, we picked Royal Balloon because it’s one of the biggest, most experienced, and reputable hot air balloon companies in Cappadocia. After all, we are putting our lives in their hands so safety is our #1 priority. Then, we contacted the company to see if they are interested in collaborating with us; a hot air balloon ride is not cheap 😉 We were so thrilled that they responded and offered Jeffrey and me free rides in exchange for a review and blog post. The other 5 people in our group including Jason still paid for their rides. So even though this post is sponsored, my review is based on my true experience!

We flew from Amman, Jordan to Istanbul, Turkey, and then a short domestic flight to Kayseri which is a one-hour drive to Goreme, Cappadocia where we stayed. We arrived at the hotel late at night – 8 PM, had dinner, and sleep as the next morning was the hot air balloon ride. Most, if not all, hot air balloon rides take off around sunrise so our hotel pick-up was 4:20 AM in the morning! We were transported to their hotel where they have a board with the list of guests and table/bus number. They really got this whole process down to science as they do this almost every single day. We were assigned to table/bus #1, total 16 passengers in our balloon basket. They offer three tiers: Royal Queen Flight with up to 20 people for 60 minutes flight (€250), Royal Queen “Plus” Flight with up to 16 people for 60 minutes flight (€300), and Royal King Flight with up to 8 people for 75 minutes. We booked the Royal Queen Flight and offered a free upgrade to the Royal Queen “Plus” Flight.

After a quick check-in, we walked into the breakfast room, found our table, and had a quick and light breakfast:

In 15 minutes or so, we headed out, located our van, and transported to the launch site. The vans parked there waiting for the decision of fly or no-fly as the wind was quite strong that morning. The driver was communicating with the team and said to wait for another 30 minutes to see if the condition will improve. 30 minutes passed and we were told to wait. We were so sleepy that we all fell asleep while waiting. Then, a knock on the van and the door opening sound woke us up. We heard someone shout, “It’s a go!”. I couldn’t tell you how cheerful everyone was! We immediately got out of the van and the whole action started!

The truck towed the basket and the staff unloaded it:

Staff lay out the balloon:

A huge fan was turned on to blow up the balloon at first and then they blasted the burners to fill the balloon with hot air!

A staff was holding onto the rope as the balloon stand up and he got pulled and slid across the ground, it was so crazy to see how they do this! As we were waiting for our balloon to get ready, another group of people on our flight said they were so glad that they finally make the flight because it was canceled for the past three days due to high winds! Wow, we were so lucky then, this was our first day, and made it. I usually don’t have such luck!

This was our pilot who did all the magic! We climbed up a ladder to get into the ballon, 4 on each partition of the basket. We got a quick briefing on the signal for landing and the landing position.

At no time, we were off the ground. Wow, that feeling was so amazing that words can’t describe it. Forget about the cold, forget about being afraid of heights, I was so focused on enjoying the views and taking photos.

The sun also light up the valley as more and more balloons took off.

As we arrived in Cappadocia just the night before, we were not familiar with the location and landscape. I guess this is one of the famous valleys – Red or Rose Valley? The pinkish colors and the look of the rocks in the valley were such a photographic location.

So many balloons were taking off!

The sun just got out of the mountain and lit up the beautiful valley.

It was insane that our pilot flew our balloon into the valley, I mean we were only a few feet away from those rocks that at one point Jason can almost touch it. Furthermore, he kept rotating the balloon 360 degrees so that everyone has a view! He only has four burners to adjust, how can he navigate so precisely? It was just mindblowing!

We were so close to the rocks! This was taken from my wide-angle lens at 16 mm!

The sky was filling up with balloons, what a sight!

Seeing it from photos was a “wow”, actually being in it and seeing it happening was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

A photo of us to prove that I did it 😀

We started to raise higher and higher, my heart started to bump!

The wind took us to the opposite of the town, back of the valley so we didn’t get the town’s view but that was still nice.

The pilot announced the altitude but I wasn’t paying attention to it, I think was around 300 meters (1000 feet), and I was like okay that’s high enough, can we get back down?

We saw balloons landing so I guess we started to land too, the 60 minutes went by fast!

Lots of balloons to advertise Chinese companies that we never heard of.

I like how they formed a line landing, it was quite a sight.

We were guessing where would the pilot pick the landing site? The terrain was not completely flat and there were trees and houses!!!

We got lower and lower, closer and closer to the ground, I guess this staff was waiting for our landing?

I was waiting for the pilot to give us the landing signal but instead, a tow truck drove right underneath our balloon. Then, instead of preparing for the landing position, the pilot said I’ll count 1, 2, 3 and we’ll all give it a big jump. Huh?? To push the balloon down right on the tow deck! What? We landed right on the deck, how precise was that?

We got off the basket as the staff deflated the balloon:

We saw another balloon from another company crashed the tip of a tree top and land tilted, that was a bumpy landing. While ours was a smooth landing that we didn’t even notice it landed!

After landing, our pilot was preparing for the “champagne ceremony” while I walked over for photos with other balloons.

Champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, guest book, and gold metals were on the table.

Our pilot asked the kid if he wants to pop open the champagne. Of course! We asked the pilot if he know how many balloons took off today. He said 150 balloons today and a max of 160 balloons!

We were each presented a gold medal from our pilot to mark the completion of taking the hot air balloon flight 🙂

The hot air balloon flight with Royal Balloon was such a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is totally worth the money. I totally recommend Royal Balloon, our pilot is so skilled and experienced that our flight was so smooth and amazing! It is a must-do activity in Cappadocia! Where else in the world can you take a hot air balloon flight along with hundreds of other balloons filling up the sky and over incredible landscapes? I do recommend staying a few days in Cappadocia and booking the hot air balloon on the first day so that in case of cancelation due to weather, you have a few more chances to make the flight. Plus, Cappadocia has so much to see that you need a few days to see the beautiful scenery!

3 thoughts on “Cappadocia – Magical Hot Air Balloon Ride with Royal Balloon

  1. Looks like u picked the right company and pilot.Did u get any peekaboo photos of the homes in the hoodoos from the balloon?The Bagan Myanmar balloon ride is the only one I have found that compares to Cappadocia and luckily many Cappadocia outfitters operate in Bagan,unfortunately they no longer offer the nirvana experience rising above the golden pagoda.I imagine this photography was as urgent and challenging as the Northern lights in Iceland.

    1. No, the wind was blowing the opposite direction so we flew across the valley direction and not the town. Hot air balloon rising above the pagodas sounds magical! How about hot air balloon in Tanzania/Kenya for safari? Photographing during the flight wasn’t challenging as it moved slowly and smoothly, Northern Lights need luck and skill 😉

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