Cappadocian Cream (part two of three trip reports)
A hot-air balloon flight was one of the highlights of my recent trip with Squiver to Cappadocia. The whole town of Goreme seems to be associated with this activity. Some mornings, up to 100 balloons take off from several locations on the edge of the town. Daniella & Marsel had chosen Butterfly Balloons as our carrier and it turned out to be a fantastic choice.
The nine of us assembled in the courtyard of the hotel around 5:15 am. The weather looked promising and soon a vehicle arrived to take us to their main office in Goreme. After a quick breakfast and a coffee, we were taken to the balloon. It was still dark and the sight and sound of the huge balloon being inflated was amazing. I placed both of my cameras (D3 & D300) around my neck and winced with the weight of the two bodies and their respective lenses (24-70 & 70-200). I climbed into my compartment in the balloon and we were off. This was my second time in a hot-air balloon; my pervious trip on Orlando, Florida had been impressive but my camera at the time was incapable of capturing images in poor light. I was hoping to do much better on this trip.
As the balloon soared into the cold morning air I was grateful for the heat from the burners. In fact, the only noise from the balloon was from the five propane gas bottles that were used to gain altitude. The captain of our balloon was an ex-pat from the UK, Mike Green. Dressed in an immaculate white pilot’s shirt, he inspired confidence and his quiet sense of humour helped ease the nervous tension of his passengers. We travelled low over the surrounding countryside, admiring the landscape and the rock formations. Sometimes, we would be so close to the ground, the branches of the trees would scrape the base of the basket. Suddenly, the captain of the other Butterfly Balloon announced on his radio that they had spotted a Buzzard’s nest. Mike manoeuvred our balloon close to the tree and I managed to get a good photo of a Buzzard chick on its nest. Shortly afterwards, Mike also spotted a fox on the ground and I managed to get several photos of it looking up somewhat incredulously, at our balloon.
It was wonderful to view the scenery from such a superb vantage point. the image at the head of this post is one of my favourite and shows both the landscape and a number of balloons receding into the distance. Another image, this time in Black & White, shows the texture of the rocks and pinnacles and is another of my favourites.
This colour image is another of my favourites, too.
All too soon it was time to land. Our companion balloon had already landed and I took the opportunity of photographing it as it lay upon the ground like a huge tulip.
We landed without fuss on the back of the waiting trailer (superb piloting skills, Mike) and disembarked in the early morning light and to a very welcome glass of champagne. A glorious end to a fantastic and memorable trip.