In some abstract ways, rideshare apps are a bit like architecture. What started as a purely utilitarian need—shelter and transportation, respectively—has grown into much more. Now, it’s art and adventure. It’s immersive experiences and creative expression. It’s the human pursuit to create beautiful moments simply because it makes life just a bit more enjoyable. Still struggling to see the connection? Consider Uber’s latest offering: a hot-air balloon ride over Turkey’s Cappadocia region.
Just launched, the technology company will now offer one-and-a half-hour sunrise flights above the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each ride can accommodate up to 20 guests and will cost about $159 (€150). According to the company, this new offering comes on the heels of impressive growth in the country. Turkey has become one of Uber’s fastest-growing markets, and booked trips have increased by 50% since last year. Of its 30,000 active drivers, most are in Istanbul.
Cappadocia, however, is significantly different than the Euro-Asian city. Known for its fairy chimneys, the region is dotted in cone-shaped rock formations, many featuring hand-carved churches and homes within them. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, some of the earliest evidence of human civilization dates back to the third millennium BCE. The semiarid region is among the most frequently visited locations in the country, and has seen year-over-year increase in the number of tourists since pandemic lows. “Our region is a unique geography. It is a region that has no alternative in the world. It is becoming a center of attraction every year,” Mehmet Akturk, the mayor of Urgup district, told Anadolu (a state-run news agency) in May.
It’s not surprising then that Uber would want to take advantage of this striking landscape and mass cultural interest through a hot-air balloon ride. However, it would certainly not be the first company to offer such an experience. Hot-air balloons are among the most popular activity in the area, with many photos of the terrain freckled with the colorful flying orbs. According to many travel blogs, prices for this type of excursion generally start around $150 for a one-hour tour. A ride on the Uber hot-air balloon also includes round-trip ground transportation between hotel lobbies and the launch site.