Story by Randy Kalp | Photos by Bethany Salvon
The balloons were ready at dawn as were the passengers. We came from all over the globe, uniting for an ascent above the ancient landscape of Cappadocia, Turkey.
After being treated to one of the finest breakfasts we had on The Hazy Shade of Autumn Tour at the Royal Balloon headquarters, Beth and I, along with the other riders, were shuttled to the launch area, where fiery bursts transformed the sheets strewn across the desert floor into colorful flying machines.
Just as the rays of the new day began trickling through the fairy chimneys, our balloon was bulbous and ready for flight, and that was about the time we met our extraordinary pilot, Suat Ulusoy. Armed with a smile and half-cocked ball cap, Suat welcomed us aboard, explained the takeoff procedure and then, with a smooth tug, ignited an unforgettable adventure over terrain that is one part Dakatoa Badlands and 15 parts otherworldly.
Formed out of intense volcanic activity, Cappadocia’s harmony of colors and shapes are the direct result of a list of natural forces too long to list. Once home to the Persian and Roman empires, modern day Cappadocia is a magnetic region in eastern Turkey ripe for exploration and adventure.
As we left the ground and floated up above Cappadoica’s diverse landscape, at times just several feet from surrealistic rock formations, I became in awe of Suat’s skills, realizing at that moment how spectacular it is to not only fly a hot air balloon, but to do it with such precision, grace and style.
The only way I can possibly describe his talent is to say that seeing Suat in action is like witnessing Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals, in other words, he’s money.
Luckily, our flight was 90 minutes, so after a bit I was able to shake myself back to the reality at hand— flying thousands of feet above a fantastic landscape with only a wooden basket separating me from the earth. As I watched the natural wonders unfold around us, I was thankful to have Beth beside me photographing the journey, because I knew that any string of adjectives I’d put together could never fully capture the moments– from takeoff to the traditional champagne toast afterwards–the way these photos do.
Our wonderful pilot Suat:
The champagne toast was such a special treat after the ride:
The Royal Balloon crew – what a great group!
Our flight with Royal Balloon was hands down the most remarkable activity we did on our trip in Europe. If you’re in Cappadocia and you want to experience an incredible adventure we highly recommend booking a hot air balloon ride with Royal Balloon. Suat’s piloting skills & ballooning knowledge are unmatched and their safety record is second to none. Plus the views are out of this world!
*While our journey with Royal Balloon was complimentary, our thoughts and opinions, including our belief that Royal Balloon offers the best hot air balloon tours in Cappadocia, are entirely our own.
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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website, Nariko’ s Nest Weddings & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!
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