We're about to take to the skies over the beautiful location of Capadoccia in Central Turkey. It is a place that is often described in guidebooks as having a 'lunar landscape'. This feels like the wrong description to me as we continue to carve our way through the narrow gorge. Lunar suggests flat - this is anything but. It is, however, out of this world.

The features to be found in Capadoccia are truly unlike any other. Formed over millions of years as a result of numerous volcanic eruptions, the debris and ash has compressed, layer by layer and then been eroded by wind and water to form the most outstanding and unlikely shapes imaginable. The soft 'tufa' rock has also been eroded by human means too, with many of the strange conical structures sporting windows and doors to cavernous interiors. For now, though, all we can see is a wall of rock outside the jeep's windows.

We finally emerge from the gorge trail into a wide-open clearing where an early-bird support crew are already unpacking the ballooning gear. The sun is just rising over the nearby hills, casting an orange glow to the tufa rock. The skies are clear - the signs are promising, but it's still too early to discard our tightly zipped up fleece tops.

Our balloonists for the day - or pilots as they prefer to be called - are a husband and wife team, Lars and Kaili. While Lars helps the ground support crew ready the balloons for take-off, Kaili goes through the safety routine that she has no doubt carried out hundreds - if not thousands - of times before. And each time with the same enthusiasm, the same well-timed jokes. All this while people are desperately trying to take photos of the balloons as they begin their transformation from giant ground-sheets to something resembling balloons.

Ground crew begin filling the balloons with hot air
The ground crew begin filling the balloons with hot air.