TURKEY

The Cappadocia experience.

By Chad Gerber

The Cappadocia experience.

Hot air balloons rising into orange-gold skies, hotels carved into cave systems, and hikes to magnificent viewpoints — these, and more, are the “Cappadocia experience.”

A perfect sunrise already comes down to luck. But when you add hot air balloons into the mix, you've got to be lucky with wind too. Arriving at our accommodation, we learnt that the balloons hadn’t left the ground for the previous five days, so we were a tad worried that our two-night stay wouldn’t suffice. On the first two mornings, there wasn’t a balloon in sight, and, quite frankly, the sky didn’t look too fabulous either. So we spent the whole day with our nerves, trying to enjoy the town and prepare for another failed morning. Then came the moment of truth. Waking the following day at the crack of dawn and saying a little prayer, we opened the front door to see over one hundred balloons lifting into the most lens-shatteringly beautiful sky I have ever seen!

After that glorious morning, we trekked to some incredible viewpoints throughout the city, soaking up the Turkish sun and sampling fruits and nuts along the way. We visited Uçhisar Castle, a rock castle with the highest land viewpoint; Paşabağ Valley, where we observed some oddly phallic rock formations; and Cavusin Cave Village, an ancient village built into the soft volcanic rock. Overall, it rocked.

Growing up in Western Australia, I have been spoilt with picturesque golden-hour skies that never fail to take away my breath, but what I witnessed in Cappadocia robbed me of oxygen altogether (sorry, WA!). Though it’s not just about sunsets and balloons; with delicious street food and otherworldly sightseeing just a short drive away, Cappadocia also offers travellers an authentic Turkish experience.

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Written by Chad Gerber, Edited by Nick Petrou