🇹🇷 My Sunrise with Cappadocia’s Hot Air Balloons

Diary Entry

The day in the fairytale landscape of Cappadocia was a dream. It’s late now. I’m getting ready. The next morning I want to get up early again and try again to see and photograph balloons over the landscape of Cappadocia. I set my alarm for 5:30 am.

In the dark, I stumble through the silent city and out into a black void over sandstone, frozen tracks, and through bushes.

The sky is slowly turning slightly blue and the contours of the sandstone towers and mountains can be seen as I struggle up a hill.

I experienced exactly the same thing yesterday.

I’m having deja vu.

I experienced the same thing early last morning. This time, for a change, I climb a different hill than last night. A big dog decided to accompany me. It’s below zero degrees Celsius. My breath freezes in the air and my hands go numb, but the climb warms me.

Can I finally see hot air balloons today?

It’s my last chance

I finally reach the top, just in time before sunrise, where an unbelievable spectacle is taking place here. Hundreds of colorful hot air balloons rise into the sky simultaneously with the first rays of the sun and over the incredible landscape of sandstone towers and hollowed-out mountains.

At least I’ll be there in time. I hope the vantage point is good.

otherwise everything was in vain.

Fires flash in the darkness, like a horde of dragons breathing fire into the night.

Yes, it’s finally here. I stand in the middle of several launch sites where fire flashes in the darkness revealing the outlines of the balloons that look like titans slowly waking from their night’s sleep and rising to their full size in the darkness.

Balloons are fired not far in front of me, then I see balloons flashing from fire in the valley on the other side of the city of Goreme. Then opposite on the other side of the gorge two launch sites that I didn’t even notice in the dark, and then some further away.

It’s incredible. My body is tingling. It’s such a nice feeling. Balloons are rising all around me in the light of the slowly rising sun. I have the moment all to myself, no one has found this place to photograph, which stuck in my mind during the hike yesterday.

Because of the winter, I’m lucky that there aren’t thousands of tourists here, as is the case in summer. In the distance, however, I see other viewpoints where onlookers are crowded together.

I have this dream all to myself!

Some balloons don’t rise properly and float past me so low that I can shake hands with the people in the basket. Other balloons seem to fall into the depths of the gorge first and it’s a mystery to me how each of them narrowly misses the rock towers and trees.

Hundreds of balloons are in the air when the sun finally comes over the mountain. For five days, people waited for the weather service to release it again. I can still hear people shouting with joy from the baskets in the air.

The hot air balloons fly 365 days a year. Unless the Turkish air traffic control does not give the green light. Since it hardly ever rains, this usually only happens when the wind is too strong. Then it may be that no balloon is allowed to take off for a few days. But that’s rarely the case, I’m told.

hot air balloons

Before my trip to Cappadocia, I looked for a long time to find good vantage points. Especially with the problem that the balloons don’t rise every day, you don’t want to drag yourself out of bed at 5 a.m. to find out that with the rising sun the hot air balloons rise somewhere else in the air.

Obeservation Points

You can find some good viewpoints on Google. The only problem with these places is that they are completely overcrowded and you come back to your accommodation with bruises from all the selfie sticks.

It’s a different picture with my own eyes and I found some spots that are easy to get to and have fantastic views. On the map below I have marked worthwhile vantage points.


All places are easy to reach on foot. However, you should bring some fitness and a good headlamp or flashlight if you go to any of the places that are just outside the town of Göreme or Uçhisar. It takes about 30 minutes to get there. Closer places can be reached in 10 to 15 minutes, depending on where your accommodation is located. The towns are small but winding and the streets full of tripping hazards, such as slippery cobblestones or gravel.

A tripod and a light-sensitive lens are recommended for good camera shots. A thermos of tea and mugs are also good for early mornings. For more luxury, the rest of the breakfast or a bottle of sparkling wine.

It’s time to go for me as the big giants slowly start to sag at the other end of the valley after about two hours. I pack my tripod and thermos to find some other perspectives.


Did I really just experience this?

Then have the whole morning to fill my stomach at the Dorm Cave breakfast buffet and explore the places I haven’t been with my drone before catching the bus back to Antalya and traveling on to Izmir in a few days .

My trip to Cappadocia was successful!

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