The experience of launching into the atmosphere, riding in a hot air balloon while enjoying the birds eye view of the world below is an experience like no other. It requires no skills other than the ability to wake up early in the morning since most of the rides as at dawn when the weather conditions are perfect for a balloon flight. After a maiden flight with my friends in the Sonoran desert, I have been wanting to take the family along on a balloon flight. The ride was comfortable and peaceful with no sounds of whirling engines, just the occasional roar of flames from the burners, as you enjoy the unique perspective of the terrain below from the safety of your basket. Hot air balloon flights are getting popular and operators are highly experienced, often guiding the baskets closer to view landscapes and animals for a close-up. Here a 6 epic balloon rides around the world and the travelers who share their experience with us, whether on your honeymoon, family trip or solo trip what a fun way to see our world.
Ballooning over Bagan, Myanmar by Scott MacLeod
Once the balloon filled, Steve gave the order to be seated, the propane tank roared, and off we went into the air. After being given the all clear, we quickly came back to the standing position. What greeted us, was an amazing sight of some airborne balloons, others still on the ground, birds flying level with us, and an almost endless assortment of temples on the ground before us. It was hard to focus on one thing: the other balloons dancing through the dawn haze, the temples revealing themselves as the sun came up or the birds flying amongst us. As we glided across the earth, there was no ignoring how serene this entire experience is. The feeling of being one with the air mass, suspended in it, created part of the sensation. The calls of the birds, occasionally drowned out by the intermittent roar of the propane burners, contributed another. But the main contributor was the temples below. They varied in scale and grandeur - some ornate, gold encrusted and well maintained. While others approached piles of rubble, victims of the inexorable march of time. But all were seeing yet another of the almost 400,000 dawns most of them had seen. With that realization was an understanding that this entire experience might be significant to the participants. However, in the grand scheme of things and the continuum of time, it approached almost insignificance.
So, having put myself in the proper metaphysical space, unfortunately the time to land arrived. Steve navigated almost this entire trip on an iPad app, which enabled him to forecast our landing spot with accuracy, just east of the town of New Bagan. We glided into an easy landing in the open field. The ground crews secured our baskets, and we climbed out. The traditional champagne toasts awaited, a fitting end to a memorable experience.
Flying over the Mara, Kenya by Myriam Jimenez
I could write a book about my Safari in Africa but today it's about my first experience on a hot air balloon, and what a place to do it! First of all, to be honest we were on our wedding anniversary and we wanted to relax so when we were told we had to be up at 4:30 am for the balloon flight we weren't very happy, in fact my husband was mad at me for booking such a thing. They picked us up in the hotel at 5 am and we drove 30 minutes to the field where they were preparing everything for the flight. We flew with two other couples, when we arrived, we had some coffee and got to know them.
Out pilot, was extremely funny, explained to us all the procedures and positions we had to follow and told us it was a very calm day with very little wind. We got in the basket and the pilot started turning the burners on so immediately the cold was gone. We started slowly floating up, as you slowly ascend, you start having a peace feeling. I cannot explain with words the serene and tranquil feeling you get when you start floating over the stunning acacia trees of Africa. The day was quite foggy but that had its magic itself. Even though we couldn't se the sunrise clearly, it was magic. The immensity of the plains of the Mara below us was breathtaking.
We saw lots of animals, giraffes, elephants, beautiful birds, zebras, but not as many as the other ladies expected, however the sole flight and views were so stunning that we all were very happy. We landed and we didn't have to make the position because it was extremely calm. We had a sumptuous breakfast with a kitchen improvised there in the middle of the bush, with everything you can imagine to eat for breakfast. We of course had champagne, I guess you've heard the origins of that tradition. The only difference is that this time the offer to goodwill had to be done to the lions for landing in their territory. The balloon company we booked our tour with was Sky Ship company
Ballooning over Fairy Chimneys, Turkey by Patricia
Ballooning in Ronda, Spain by Tamara Gruber
Ballooning at International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque by Jessica
Fiesta, the largest ballooning event in the world with more than 500 colorful hot air balloons and nearly 1 million spectators.
I've attended the Balloon Fiesta many times, but last year had the opportunity to go up in a hot air balloon. The view was stunning to say the least. As the sun began to peek over the mountain tops and illuminate the dawn sky, we peacefully floated high above the lush green river valley below with fellow balloons drifting around us in every direction. Even though it's the most photographed event in the world, pictures don't compare to witnessing the Balloon Fiesta in person. See here for more pictures and a blog post.
There are both early morning and evening events throughout the 9-day festival (including some dedicated to special shape balloons ranging from Darth Vader to a trio of bees), and you don't have to ride in a balloon to be part of the magic. What makes the Balloon Fiesta a particularly exciting experience is that attendees can walk the field for an up-close look at the balloons as they inflate and liftoff in waves, creating a kaleidoscope of color in the sky.
Ballooning over the Thai countryside in Chiang Mai by Eric Stoten
We were picked up at the hotel in the dark at 6am and driven roughly an hour away to the launch site. I've attempted to go hot air ballooning at least half a dozen times around the world over the years, but every time the weather foiled my plans. So even as we were watching the balloons fill with air, I remained skeptical that we would lift off. But the weather remained perfect, and off we went. I had no idea if I would find it scary, or especially if my son would find it scary, but the experience was so peaceful that we never thought about the height. We simply enjoyed watching the sunrise from a unique perspective, and watching the Thai countryside slowly pass by, before landing very gently an hour later. As a family-travel writer, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend ballooning to other families. Balloon company that organized the tour was Balloon Adventure Thailand
Bubbles and Balloons
How fun to toast champagne at these unique destinations - Is hot air balloon ride on your bucketlist... if so where? If you have been on a balloon ride do share you experience with us.