Colorful hot air balloons dotted the skies of Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey on Saturday morning, as the popular tourist activity resumed after a pause of over five months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site in Denizli province is famous for its mineral-rich thermal waters and white travertine terraces.
The balloon tours, which give visitors the chance to take in the area’s natural splendor from up above, were grounded on March 15 as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Pamukkale’s Kocacukur area swarmed with tourists on Saturday morning, who lined up for their balloon rides at sunrise wearing masks and following social distancing rules.
Muhammet Kaplan, who runs a balloon tour company, told Anadolu Agency that tour operators were glad to restart their businesses after overcoming a tough period of over five months.
“There has been a growing interest in balloon tours in Pamukkale. We all had to take a break due to the pandemic but today we are once again able to watch the beautiful sunrise from the skies,” Kaplan said.
“We are taking all necessary precautions. Disinfectants are being used regularly, passengers are not allowed to board without a mask, their temperature is checked, and everyone has to follow social distancing rules.”
Maya Simone Acosta, a US citizen who has visited Turkey multiple times, shared her excitement: “It’s beautiful here; you can visit Turkey without any fear. Flying in these balloons is like a dream. It feels great to soar above the clouds.”