Ever thought about floating above an exotic destination in a hot air balloon? You should.
No matter how many adventures you embark upon you’ll never forget a ride in a hot-air balloon.
There’s no feeling of speed or ascension. It’s as if you’re your basket is resting on an invisible people mover gliding over the countryside below.
Except for the periodic deep whoosh of the burner and the “ooos and ahhhs” from your fellow travelers, ballooning is a silent affair, there’s no deafening engine to drown out the serenity of your journey.
And the view…. It’s 360 degrees of spectacular.
What to Expect
- You’ll have to get up REALLY early: The weather is usually milder in the early morning making it safer to balloon. You’ll have to get up when it’s still dark. And though you’ll be groggy, when you see the sunrise from your perch in the sky you’ll be really glad you dragged yourself out of bed.
- Your pilot will tell you all that you need to know: You’ll be assigned to a balloon with a pilot who will go over all the safety rules and what you can expect during the flight which will last about an hour. Baskets range in size to hold 12-16 people depending on the number of reservations they’ve booked, and unless you’re part of a large group you’ll probably ride with other travelers.
- Watching the balloons inflate is part of the fun: When you get to your departure point, you’ll find a lot of activity as workers prepare the balloons for inflation. Once the pilots engage the burners to heat the air it takes about 30 minutes for the balloons to fill and rise above the baskets. Surprisingly, the process is thrilling to watch.
- The view is beyond words: Imagine if you were standing on the top of a huge mountain with a 360-degree view. The world spread out beneath you in every direction. That’s the closest you’ll get to what it’s like in a hot air balloon.
- The whole shebang ends with a champagne breakfast: Champagne after a flight is a worldwide tradition, but the size and bounty of the spread vary. I’ve enjoyed everything from yummy muffins and pastries to a full sit-down breakfast.
Unfortunately, a Hot Air Balloon Ride Isn’t Cheap
I’ve ballooned in different parts of the world, and while there’s a hefty price tag (it can run anywhere between $250-$450 per person) it’s worth the pre-trip penny-pinching. Trust me.
Destinations Worth The Investment
Here are three of my favorite places to a hot air balloon, each is wonderfully different in both focus and view, but all are magnificent.
Known for its mushroom-like sandstone pillars the brochures call “Fairy Chimneys,” Cappadocia is all about its riveting landscapes. It’s brimming with unusual rock formations that burst with color, and stone that looks plumped and pleated like puffs of meringue.
Myanmar is worthy of a spot on your bucket list. If you love the majesty and grandeur of old temples, you’ll find them in Old Bagan. You’ll see over 3000 ancient shrines sprinkled across the countryside on this stunning ride. The ruins vary in age and some are better preserved than others, yet all are magnificent. Sunrise is particularly beautiful because the temples seem as if they’re glowing.
It was cloudy and cold in Kenya during my flight, but it didn’t detract from the experience one bit. We glided over herds of zebra, wildebeest, and giraffe. The sheer expanse of the Masai Mara from above was jaw-dropping. Imagine if I’d been able to see a wildebeest crossing in action. Now wouldn’t that have been special?
If you have an adventurous spirit than a ride in a hot air balloon is tailor-made for you. Let’s face it, it’s not every day you get to see the forest for the trees. In a balloon, you’ll see it all at once.
Have you ballooned someplace fabulous? I’d love to hear about it.
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