I am fortunate to have very curious children who love discovering new things. As they enjoy it, it’s fun showing them new views, cultures, art, and so on and often discovering things myself for the first time as well. Don’t get me wrong I don’t have kids that prefer spending their days in a museum then in front of the Wii or running around in the park but they will give the museum a chance or they will try something for a first time and hopefully become openminded interested adults one day.
One of my greatest experiences with one of my children was a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia in Turkey with my eldest daughter. My two sons where too young at the time and not allowed to fly yet. Even though the boys did not share the flying experience, they did enjoy the scenery of this incredible place we were though. It’s such a wonderful region.
It’s like if you are walking around in a Science fiction movie. Remember the movie Dune? It’s a bit like that but weirder. It’s such a special magical place, I (together with loads of Japanese tourists) think it’s one of the top 10 must sees in the world.
Hot balloons everywhere
I was not very serious, actually I was not even really asking a question, when I said to my daughter: “wouldn’t it be fun to do a balloon flight one day?”. And she went: “Yeah! Let’s go tomorrow!”. And I went “Oh great ok”. These are those moments you realize that you should think before you talk cause seriously I was scared sh*tless to get in one of those things!!
There are lots of balloon rides organized there so while holidaying you see them flying by continuously. It’s a pretty view, very colorful. It’s become a favorite Insta-worthy spot the last few years so that’s a bit of a pity. It was relatively calm and off the beaten path when we were there.
We ended up flying with Kapadokya Balloons. They offer sponsored balloon rides, “fly Coca Cola”, and regular ones which did not matter to me at all and it makes a big price difference so I booked us a sponsored balloon ride.
Kapadokya Balloons was the first company to introduce hot air balloon tourism in the region. They have a fleet of 22 balloons now.
Another company which seemingly is very good as well is the Goreme balloons. We have been very happy with Kapadokya so no regrets there for us anyway.
My daughter seemed to have completely forgotten we would be flying the next day and slept like a baby. Unlike me as I was really nervous and I was even more nervous that my daughter would notice how nervous I was 🙂
The driver from Kapadokya Balloons comes to fetch you at the hotel late at night/early morning. I think it was about 4h30. The idea is that you fly at sunrise which is really pretty but also really cold! Make note: if you go for a balloon ride dress very warmly (but also take your sunglasses with you, a hat eventually and comfy shoes).
So she and I where all sleepy in the car together with the other people who would go on the ride. We were 14 all together and she was the only child. When we arrived at the take off spot the cold woke us right up. The balloons still had to be blown up and there it was. The basket. It was right at that moment I realized I was taking my kind up in the sky in a freaking basket! A hot air balloon has three important parts: the envelope, the burner and the basket (also called gondola). The basket is about chest high, for my daughter it was shoulder high.
Ok, relax. She was jumping up and down and looking at all those balloons, as there were different companies flying out at the same moment and the site of all these balloons getting blown up was absolutely stunning. The sun was rising, the light was beautiful, it was quite an unrealistic site. We climbed in the basket and the balloon took off and started to go up..and up…and up…
High up in the air
The British pilot had a great sense of humor and made us all laugh while explaining how a hot air balloon works and what we were going to encounter in the next hour and a half. I had by then forgot all my fears as it was so incredibly pretty. The landscape in the region is so special and seeing it from the sky is even more incredible and impressive.
There is kind of a weird but beautiful silence in the sky, unsimilar with the silence one experiences in a house or whatever, and then there is the noise of the fire heating the air. Even more then in a plane for example, you really feel carried by the air and (logically…) much more connected with the nature around you.
Happy daughter, happy mother
My daughter enjoyed the site of the other balloons even more then the landscape itself. She didn’t really want to look down either, she found we were “really really high, mom, is he going to go even higher?”. Yes he was. He went so high, it was so special.
My daughter was busy making pictures of her troll-doll against sky backgrounds and looking at the other balloons and I was enjoying the landscape down down down there. It was such an unforgettable experience for us both. She really loved it even though she was attracted by other stuff then me. While I was looking at the landscape she was looking at the fire in the balloon.
1,5 hours can be quite long for a child but she did not get bored for a minute. She got worried a few times as she couldn’t believe how high up we were “mom, mom, we’re higher than all the other balloons!” but she enjoyed the experience tremendously and still speaks of it often. The balloon feels very stable though, it did not swing or something like that.
Balloons can fly super low, for example at the height of a tree, but they can also rise up to a few thousand feet. The pilots decide which height is best depending on weather conditions. The limit set by the Civil Aviation Authority is 6000 feet during weekdays and 8000 feet during weekends.
We had great weather ourselves (during autumn) and flew low, close enough to see people walking in a hotel and also very high – as mentioned before, higher than the other balloons. No flights are identical as balloons follow the course of the wind.
Back on the ground
Once we landed all smooth and fine, the balloon had to be folded and therefore the air had to be emptied. As she was the only little girl, my daughter got extra attention from the staff and could help out with emptying the air by jumping and sitting on the balloon. She really loved that. Maybe even more then the flying! She also was all happy and proud when she got a flight certificate at the end !
The whole thing was a great experience for my daughter and myself as well, as I enjoyed it too and would fly again without any hesitation or anxiety. It was so nice to share something new for us both. It’s one of these memories we’ll always carry with us, you know: the priceless stuff!
Hot air balloon with kids: yay or nay?
Children from 7 years up are allowed to fly with Kapadokya Balloons. It might differ a bit from one hot air balloon company to the other though. Children from 10 years up are allowed to fly with Goreme Balloons for example. I think 10 and up is perfect but it still would depend on the kid itself. The parents know their own kids best and should decide for themselves if a hot air balloon experience is a good idea. It’s not only age really…
Younger kids might get scared of the heights. Also, one stands for quite a long period so young kids could find that difficult. Yound kids might also be scared of the burner, the flame is quite large and the noise it makes is loud.
The height of the child is important as well. A small child will not even be able to see over the basket they are travelling in. The basket which is made of wicker has sides of about 4 feet tall.
Tip: talk about the hot air balloon before you fly, how it works, what it’s made of, the history, that kind of things. This site has a fun explanation for kids (here’s one with fun facts about hot air balloons for kids as well: scienceforkidsclub), so they will recognize everything during the ride.