Please sign in to post.

Time for hot air balloon excursion on the RS tour in the fall

We are a group of 4 signed up for the Sept 19, 2022 Best of Turkey tour. Reading the itinerary, it appears there isn't time set aside for this activity. Can anyone confirm this?
Thanks
Neil

Posted by
2455 posts

I was on this tour in 2018. As I remember, the hot air balloon experience was an optional activity, at additional cost. We got up in the very, very early morning, in the dark, in order to be at the balloon launch around dawn. After landing, we returned to the hotel to join those tour members who chose not to participate, in order for everyone to experience the itinerary for the day.

Posted by
2267 posts

Ditto Larry- I did the tour mid-Sept 2019. The balloon people will come to the hotel a day or two before to take sign-ups and payment.

Posted by
2461 posts

I took this tour in mid-October 2018 and we went before daybreak to the site where the balloons are, it was quite a long drive. We were given coffee and breakfast while the balloons were readied. The weather has to be perfect so we were fortunate to go up for a peaceful float in the sky. Beautiful experience. Then we drove back to meet our group at our lodgings. Then we continued on with the day’s activities.

Posted by
3153 posts

Your guide will fill you in on how to take that spectacular ride. Just be aware that you’ll have to be ready to roll at 5:30 - 6 in the morning! Balloon company will pick you up and return you to your lodgings.

Posted by
226 posts

We were on the tour in October 2019. Our guide set up the balloon ride. Due to weather it had to be postponed until our last day, so those folks had to be all packed and ready to leave upon their return.

Posted by
15570 posts

Most of the people on my tour did it. We all loved it. A very few stayed back at the hotel. They said they watched the balloons from the roof of the hotel.

It's on Day 6 of the itinerary. Some of us chose not to take the scenic walk after getting up in the middle of the night, others were energized by the experience and probably could have done the hike twice :-)

Posted by
2417 posts

We did this and the hike as well. Then we went to the underground city. It was a very full day. By the time we got to the underground city, I was exhausted and opted out. The balloon ride is spectacular as the scenery is otherworldly.

Posted by
6782 posts

Caveat: I did not take the Rick Steves Turkey tour. But I went to Turkey and did the balloon ride.

The balloons only fly when the winds are calm. The winds are usually only calm for a few hours in early mornings (though not every morning – on some days, the wind is blowing too hard, and all balloon flights are cancelled). If it's not too windy, your balloon company will pick you up from your hotel at oh-dark-thirty, drive you to their office, then once everyone is assembled, drive you all to the launch site. The actual balloon ride takes maybe 90 minutes or so. Afterwards, they will bring you back to your hotel.

Here are some things to keep in mind...

  1. If it's too windy, they cancel. That does happen, more often than you might think. If they cancel, you get priority for the next day, should conditions improve. So – important!if you want to do the balloon trip, book it for your first morning in Cappadocia. That way, you have additional chances to do it if the weather doesn't cooperate. Don't book it for your last morning there.

  2. They do get busy and some balloon trips do fill up. I would book in advance if you are going during the busy season, and if you are picky about the details/have a particular company you want to go with.

  3. You will be done, and back at your hotel, around 9 am. So it's not going to wipe out your day.

When I was there (in March) we had 3 days/4 nights booked in Göreme. We booked the balloon flight for our first morning, and went then. Which was fortunate, because a storm blew through that afternoon, and all the balloons were grounded for the rest of the time we were there (it was really windy).

Posted by
46 posts

I am on the Best of Turkey tour now. We tried to do the balloon ride during out 3 nights in Mustafapasa/Cappadocia but it didn't work out. First two days the Ministery said weather wasn't right. Third morning we we ready at 5 am and the van came to pick us up, but then the govt announced the wind wasn't right so it was cancelled. However it looks possible a balloon ride is possible during our stay in Pamukkale, fingers crossed. We heard the group before us also didn't get to do it. Balloon ride is 5am till 7 am including travel, so it can be fit into any day.

Posted by
4565 posts

Thank you for these on-the-road updates, Eileen L. I am 6 weeks behind you and appreciate every word.

Now if I can just manage my fear of heights - I have trouble walking across bridges with massive guard fences - the balloon ride sounds magical!

Posted by
46 posts

I am also a bit scared of heights! But it helps that there were about 12 other people in the balloon (3-4 people in each of the 4 divided sections inside the basket - being so close to others helped to distract me from being up so high. We ended up doing the balloon ride in Pamukkale - we left the hotel about 6:15 am and we were back by about 7:45 am. There was plenty of time to have breakfast before our bus left at 9pm for the drive to Kusadasi.

PLEASE NOTE: after the balloon ride (which cost like $250), they asked for tips, and suggested $20, which many people gave. (Hmph!) AFTER the tips were collected, they offered a downloadable video link of the ride for $100, which everyone could share paying for. No one was interested, so they dropped it to $50! I was the only one interested so finally they sold me the video link for $20 - which worked out OK for me, because I hadn't given a tip, haha. So the tip of the day is don't tip, but buy the downloadable video together as a group, after bargaining the price down. It is a great 15-min video of close ups of us and far off shots of our balloon ride!

Posted by
4565 posts

Eileen L, Thanks for the....tips (haha) ... about the balloon ride and video!

Posted by
3 posts

We are looking forward to our Best of Turkey tour in a month! My wife doesn't like heights but is wondering if she can go along on the balloon excursion and stay on the ground as a spectator/photographer. Does anyone have any experience with that?

Posted by
11123 posts

we left the hotel about 6:15 am and we were back by about 7:45 am

So how long was the balloon ride?

which cost like $250

Is that per person?

How did the cost compare to the other location that you tried, but had bad weather?

Posted by
4565 posts

The balloon people will come to the hotel a day or two before to take sign-ups and payment

For those on the RS tour, it sounds as though you can just sign up when they come to the hotel?

Was that $250 per person?
Did they take credit cards?

Posted by
46 posts

The balloon ride was about 45 min, I believe.

Yes, it was $250 per person. It was about the same amount for both Cappadocia (which didn't happen due to bad weather) and Pamukkale. Yes, they took credit cards for payment (I paid in Turkish Lira cash, as I had extra).

Our tour guide Yaren kept a list of everyone who wanted to go on the balloon ride like two or three days beforehand, but payment was only the night before - when it was almost guaranteed not to be cancelled.

Posted by
6782 posts

Not all the balloon operators take credit cards. The company we went with (which was the one that Rick Steves himself used) did not accept payment by credit card -- cash only (Euros preferred, US Dollars accepted at a less favorable exchange rate, Turkish Lira not accepted at all).

It is a splurge. Not cheap.

By the way, if you just want to fly in a balloon for the experience without paying an arm and a leg, you can do that back home for a fraction of the cost of doing it in Turkey or pretty much anywhere else in the world -- the cost of getting off the ground, going up in the air, and returning to earth by any means (airplane, parachute, balloon, etc.) is a relative bargain in the USA/Canada compared to the rest of the world. The operative question is, how different your experience is if you're looking down on Cappadocia versus looking down on Cucamonga or Kamloops.

Posted by
31 posts

My wife and I just finished the RS Turkey tour. The day before we arrived in Cappadocia, our guide asked for those of us that were interested in doing a hot air balloon ride. Once we arrived in Cappadocia, the balloon company was at the dinner and took payment for the trip. We used a credit card. The balloon company provided transportation to the launch site at 5:15 am. We arrived to a spectacle of many balloons being filled with hot air. We took off prior to sunrise. What a spectacular experience and one I would urge all to try. The ride was smooth and very peaceful.