The Best Way to See the Fairy Chimneys
Certainly the highlight of an amazing two weeks in Turkey. Cappadocia is a magical place and we heard the best way to experience it is in a hot air balloon.
It starts around 4:30am, before the first call prayer, when the company picks you up from your hotel and drives to you the lift-off spot. We arrived half awake as they were just starting to fill the balloons with the initial helping of hot air. Right before the balloon is full, they call you over one by one to the basket and position you to balance the load.
And then you're off. We started behind a hill that borders a major valley and our first goal was to clear the hill.
In a hot air balloon, the pilot can only control the height of the balloon--he has no control over lateral direction. A skilled navigator understands the wind patterns and is so familiar with the territory that they know just how the air blows. Lucky our pilot was such a navigator.
We crested the hill right at sunrise. The sight of a sea of fairy chimneys and balloons was surreal.
A few moments later I took this shot.
We spent the next 45 minutes or so moving around the valley--descending in and out of small canyons to get a closer look at the odd geological formations.
The trip ended with a soft landing and a toast on a successful ride.