Don't Miss: Cappadocia from Above
If you've never taken a flight in a hot-air balloon, Cappadocia is one of the best places in the world to try it. Flight conditions are especially favourable here, with balloons operating most mornings throughout the year. Seeing this area's remarkable landscape from above is a truly magical experience and many travellers judge it to be the highlight of their trip. Transport between your hotel and the balloon launch site is included in the hefty price, as is a sparkling-wine toast.
Flights take place just after dawn. Unfortunately, due to demand, even most of the reputable companies now offer a second, later-morning flight as well. Winds can become unreliable and potentially dangerous later in the morning, so you should always book the dawn flight.
You'll quickly realise that there's a fair amount of hot air among the operators about who is and isn't inexperienced, ill equipped and under insured. Be aware that, despite the aura of luxury that surrounds the hot-air ballooning industry, this is an adventure activity and is not without its risks. There have been several fatal ballooning accidents here over the past decade. It's your responsibility to check the credentials of your chosen operator carefully and make sure that your pilot is experienced and savvy – even if it means asking to see their licences and logbooks. And don't pick the cheapest operator if it means they might be taking short cuts with safety or overfilling the balloon baskets (which, if nothing else, will mean you won't be able to see the views you've paid a princely sum for).
It's important to note that the balloons travel with the wind, and that the companies can't ensure a particular flight path on a particular day. All companies try to fly over the fairy chimneys, but sometimes – albeit rarely – the wind doesn't allow this. Occasionally, unfavourable weather means that the pilot will cancel the flight for safety reasons; if this happens you'll be offered a flight on the next day or will have your payment refunded. Although this may be an inconvenience, it is preferable to flying in dangerous conditions.
All passengers should take a warm jumper or jacket and should wear trousers and flat shoes. Children under six will not be taken up by reputable companies.
The following agencies have good credentials.
Butterfly Balloons This seamless operation has an excellent reputation, with highly skilled and professional pilots. Standard flights take up to 16 passengers.
Royal Balloon Seasoned pilot Suat Ulusoy heads up this reputable balloon operation. Standard flights take up to 16 passengers.
Turkiye Balloons Most of Turkiye's balloon pilots have over 10 years' experience flying for various companies. Standard flights take up to 20 passengers.
Voyager Balloon Recommended for its multilingual pilots and professional service. Standard flights take up to 20 passengers.
Worth a Trip: Sultan Marshes
An afternoon ploughing the Sultan Marshes (Sultansazlığı) in your gumboots might not sound like your cup of birdseed, but there's something undeniably fascinating about observing a flock of flamingos at a waterhole or an eagle swooping to snap the neck of a curious baby squirrel. This giant patch of Ramsar-listed wetland in between Soğanlı and Ala Dağlar incorporates marshes, wet-meadow and steppe fields and is world famous among the twitching fraternity, which descends here year-round to spot the 300-odd species that breed or overwinter here. At Ovaciftliği there's an information centre and an impressive boardwalk and wildlife viewing tower, and it's easy and free to drive yourself on the lanes through the steppe. To get completely amidst the wetlands though, you're going to need a boat.
The affable owners at Sultan Pansion operate well-regarded boat trips from their hotel, which backs onto the marshes themselves. If you want to overnight, this is your only accommodation option. The spick and span rooms here are simple but comfortable.