Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat November 14 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | November 14, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Floating Above Cappadocia

    Floating Above Cappadocia

    PHOTO: The hot air balloon ride was an experience I will never forget and reminded me exactly why I travel — for moments like these. (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    Normally, the mere mention of the word “touristic” would have me running in the opposite direction, but I have also learned you should never say never.

    It was 3 a.m., and though I wanted to press the snooze button, I got up, groggily put on every warm article of clothing I had and waited outside of my cave hostel for the shuttle to arrive — I was about to head out for my sunrise hot air balloon ride.

    We drove to the takeoff point, where flashes of light burst from beneath the dormant balloons in the distance and our excitement built as we approached.

    After the go-ahead, we piled into our designated baskets and within minutes, the vast balloon lifted. The strong flame warmed our skin against the cold morning air and we rose high above the enchanting Rose Valley just as the morning sun gave way.

    The moment was surreal, like something from a fairytale or a dream to the point where you look around, frozen in disbelief at the beauty surrounding you. It’s a moment truly indescribable that can only be experienced to understand.

    All I can say is that nothing will ever compare. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment and it has succeeded every expectation I had (and trust me, it was high).

    Best Accommodation: Ali's Guest House: (€8 a dorm)

    Absolutely wonderful cave hostel with owners who take pride in their beautiful city as well as their guests! Best hostel in Turkey yet!


    • Comfortable dorm beds

    • Large lockers

    • Cozy/relaxed ambiance

    • Plenty of couches/seating

    • Great, BIG and FREE Turkish breakfast

    • Free coffee/tea all day

    • Fast Wi-Fi

    • Seconds from all stores/restaurants/bus terminal

    • Free shuttle pickup

    Hot Air Balloon Ride: €120

    • Best Company: Cappadocia Balloon Bookings for best deal

    (flying with Urgu Balloons)


    • Free shuttle pickup at hostel at 4 a.m.

    • Pre-Balloon: Free breakfast and hot drinks at the location (bagels, cookies and cake).

    • Drive to take-off field for photos and brief safety instructions.

    • Incredible one-hour flight.

    • After landing, free champagne and flight certificate.

    • Transfer back to your accommodation.

    Other things to do:

    • Hike all the trails: Rose Valley, Love Valley, Devrent Valley and Fairy Chimneys.

    PHOTO: Never in my life have I experienced such a surreal place as Cappadocia — sitting atop a cliff watching the sunset with new friends.

    • Wake up at 4 a.m. and watch the balloons take off at Sunset Point (bring a blanket, it’s chilly in the early morning).

    • Check out the Open Air Museum (the main church has an extra fee to see).

    • Visit the Derinkuyu Underground City (20 TL).

    • Walk to Goreme Panorama for sunset.

    • Hike the Zemi and Gorkundere Valley loop.

    PHOTO: You can spend hours, days, even weeks wandering through the mind-blowing valleys and still be blown away each time.

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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