FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Check Taking a Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Cappadocia Off Your Bucket List

by Steve Jermanok

Mar 3, 2020

PHOTO: © ELENATUR – DREAMSTIME.COM,

March 2020

WHEN MOUNT ERCIYES POURED lava over central Turkey thousands of years ago, the volcanic ash formed a surreal, lunar- like landscape consisting of cone-shaped fairy chimneys and layers of soft volcanic rock called tufa. Early Christians found the pervious terrain ideal for escaping persecution by Romans and Arabs. When wet, the tufa could be easily carved like soap to make caves out of the pinnacles and even underground cities descending hundreds of feet below the surface.

At first sight, this fascinating otherworldly terrain looks like the set of a Star Wars film. Perhaps it would be even more striking from above, surmised the first hot-air balloon adventurers in 1989, who ventured to the sky for an advertising promotion. Today, hot-air ballooning above this region of Cappadocia is a must-do activity when visiting Turkey. The latest figures in 2018 report a remarkable 63 percent increase from the year prior, for a total of 537,500 passengers.

Every day, weather dependent, a maximum of 100 hot-air balloons inflate before sunrise. Reserve in advance for the first morning you’ll be in Cappadocia, since due to winds and weather, tour companies cancel almost one-third of all excursions. If you miss the first morning, you might try for a second or third morning to ensure you’ll be up in the sky during your stay. Choose a reputable hot-air balloon company like Voyager Balloons, in business since 2001. Options range from Standard to Exclusive flights, but we found the Comfort Flights best suited our family of four since we would get our own private compartment on the balloon. The balloons typically hold a maximum of 16 people, and the cost ranges €120–230 per person, depending on the level of luxury.

Though time in the sky usually runs 75–90 minutes, the entire tour lasts four to five hours. Outfitters pick up guests at their hotels sometime around 4:30–5 a.m. and transfer them to a restaurant for a light breakfast. Then it’s on to the balloons to watch the flames as they magically blow up these colorful orbs, still before dawn. Soon it’s time to make your ascent as you find your seat and leave the Earth’s surface.

They couldn’t time these rides better, especially for photographers or Instagrammers who want to capture that essential image. The sun rises alongside you, forming shadows and colors on this mythical landscape that mesmerize. So do the numerous balloons around you crowding the sky. Depending on the wind, you’ll fly over Goreme and Zelve, home to clusters of fairy chimneys, and to the many contemporary villages like Ürgüp that surround these centuries-old enclaves.

Hiring a good outfitter also ensures you’ll have an accomplished guide who can not only navigate but also speak English and tell you about the rich history of this land. The first Christians came to the valleys of Cappadocia in the fourth century, led by St. Basil. They formed communities within the caves, building living areas, bakeries and workshops. Their religious leaders lived like hermits, constructing numerous churches and painting frescoes depicting Jesus Christ and Old Testament figures. Due to the natural aridity of the region, these paintings remain remarkably well-preserved today.

PHOTO: © PEPE14 – DREAMSTIME.COM

The flight ends far too quickly, and soon you’re back on terra firma enjoying a Champagne toast and leaving with a certificate of flight in your hand. The balloon ride likely will whet your appetite to explore the open-air museums of Goreme and Zelve in person, where hundreds of churches and homes are located for your cave- dwelling pleasure. The excavated underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu present another highlight of the region. An intricate maze of tunnels and stairways leads to sleeping quarters, communal kitchens, storage rooms … even stables. An estimated 60,000 people lived underground here for periods of up to three months.

A tour guide and a sweater are strongly recommended. The hallways seem endless, and one can get lost in this claustrophobic maze for hours without knowledge of the nearest exit. It can also get quite cold at eight stories under ground, even though it might be sweltering outside. But after exploring Cappadocia from the sky, on land and underground, you’ll understand why it should be on everyone’s wish list.

INFO TO GO

From İstanbul (IST), take an easy one-hour-and-20-minute flight to Kayseri (ASR) and drive another hour (or hire a transfer) to Ürgüp in the heart of Cappadocia. Esbelli Evi, the first cave hotel in the region, makes for a unique place to stay. We booked a spacious three-bedroom suite with full kitchen and patio, all carved out within a cave. Also in Ürgüp, we enjoyed Ziggy Café, where you sit on a rooftop overlooking the hills while dining on small plates of delectable eggplant-, lamb- and tomato-based dishes.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Jul 14, 2020

5 Unique Airbnbs in the United States

Instead of staying in a hotel or vacation home on your next domestic trip, rent one of these unique Airbnbs:

Five Things You Need to Know About Punta Cana’s New Finest Resort

Finding a beachfront Punta Cana all-inclusive resort for all ages can be daunting when you want to take home great memories with loved ones but also experience a sophisticated escape. Now, you can have both thanks to a new resort: Finest Punta Cana.

Daily
Jul 13, 2020

Delta Air Lines Adds Layers of Protection for Safe Travels

Delta Air Lines is happy to welcome travelers back while implementing extra precautions to ensure a safe, clean environment for passengers. After listening to customers' main concerns about returning to flying, Delta Air Lines came up with layers of protection.

Daily
Jul 10, 2020

Visit Navajo Nation

Navajo Nation is an area of land in the southwestern United States. Covering about 27,000 square miles, the region in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah currently makes up the largest area of land retained by a tribe within the United States. Home to the Navajo people, the area boasts monuments, parks, markets, trails and historic sites.

Adventure of a Lifetime with Volvo

Looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own adventure of a lifetime. Volvo allows you to custom order your new automobile tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.

Daily
Jul 10, 2020

Buy Now, Stay Later: Thailand

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Los Angeles Office announced a new initiative for would-be travelers waiting for the green light. The Buy Now, Stay Later: Thailand launch comes on the heels of Thailand’s foreign travel restrictions extending until further notice.

eFlyer News
Jul 8, 2020

LOT Polish Airlines Resumes Flights to North America, Asia

LOT Polish Airlines resumed its first international flights since the suspension of passenger flights in mid-March on July 1, with flights to Berlin, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf, Barcelona, Prague, Budapest, Vilnius, Kyiv, Dubrovnik and Split. On July 2, flights to Vienna and Oslo began. From Warsaw’s Chopin Airport, flights to Toronto ramped up to seven times a week (from three) July 1; and to Seoul, up to five times a week, and to Tokyo, up to three times a week, from July 3.

Goway Offers Travelers Journey of a Lifetime

Since 1970, Goway Travel has been committed to providing customized travel experiences for world travelers. Few things are better evidence of this commitment than being awarded the 2019 Trazees award for Favorite Tour Operator. Goway Travel heartily thanks the readers of Trazee Travel for this honor and for their confidence in Goway’s work in creating travel memories that’ll last a lifetime.

eFlyer Deals
Jul 8, 2020

Breezes Resort & Spa – Bahamas Reopens with Summer of Savings Special

Through July 30, travelers looking for a Caribbean getaway can book the Breezes Summer of Savings special at Breezes Resort & Spa – Bahamas. The promotion offers up to 60 percent off stays now through Dec. 25, starting at just $139 per person, per night at double occupancy. Book now.