Ihlara Valley new address for hot-air balloons
AKSARAY – Anadolu Agency
AA photoThe hot-air balloons that soar over Turkey’s peerless Cappadocia region now have a new area to visit after operators began staging rides to Ihlara Valley, one of the world’s biggest canyons.
Located in the central Anatolian province of Aksaray’s Güzelyurt district and visited by 491,380 tourists last year, Ihlara is expected to draw even more tourists thanks to the balloon tours.
Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Mustafa Doğan said Cappadocia had drawn interest from tourists from all around the world thanks to its fairy chimneys, valleys and hot-air balloon flights.
“This year, the second hot-air balloon flight area of Cappadocia opened in Ihlara Valley. After permissions and test flights, commercial flights have kicked off,” Doğan said.
Doğan said the flight area around Güzelyurt, Ihlara and Hasandağı Mountain provided a feast for the senses.
“We have been working for three years for the flights over Ihlara Valley. Talks with the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, surveys in the region and permission have concluded and flights have begun. The hot-air balloon tours are realized in the region of the Monastery Valley, Ihlara Valley and Selime in the center of Güzelyurt. During the nearly one-hour flight, it is possible to see all the beauties of the Cappadocia region. I hope these flights will continue and the beauties of Ihlara and its vicinity will be a visual feast for tourists.”
Doğan said they expected more interest in the valley with the balloon tours. “Annually, one million tourists visit Aksaray. Ihlara Valley is one of the 10 most visited places [in Turkey]. In 2015, the number of tourists was 491,000. We want to revive tourism more in the region with balloon tours and other activities.”
Güzelyurt District Gov. Yakup Güven said the balloon tours would boost tourism in the region. “We made the first balloon flight over the valley. It is nice to visit Ihlara, but it is much more beautiful to see it above. Also, we believe that the hot-air balloon tours will revive tourism here thanks to the view of Hasandağı Mountain.”
District Mayor Ünal Demircioğlu said Cappadocia was known for balloons in the world. “Hot-air balloons are very popular for traveling in the region. Güzelyurt will make its name heard with balloons. We hope all tourists visiting the region will take advantage of it.”
Viewing the region from the sky
“Ihlara Valley, Hasandağı Mountain, Belisırma, the Selime Cathedral, the Fairy Chimneys as well as the lakes add richness to this region,” said Cappadocia Ihlara Balloons General Director and pilot Erdinç Taşkın, adding that there would be no different between rides over Ihlara and those in Cappadocia.
Taşkın said Ihlara was an important region for Cappadocia tourism.
“Tourists shouldn’t leave Cappadocia before seeing Ihlara Valley and Cappadocia because this place is the beginning of Cappadocia. We will make tourists view the region from the sky. At first, we want to serve the locals and guests of this region. Our goal is to increase tourism activities here. Güzelyurt and Aksaray must be known for balloon tours. Our flights recently started but everyone leaves us happy. Weather conditions are suitable for balloon flights. Various activities can be realized in the region, too,” Taşkın said.