Top Hot Air Ballooning Destinations

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Travel Features >> Top Hot Air Ballooning Destinations

Top Hot Air Ballooning Destinations

September 12, 2012

Climb into a hot air balloon – and get ready to view the world below from a different perspective. Hot air ballooning has been around for ages, ever since 1783 when two Montgolfier brothers, went up in a balloon for a full 23 minutes in Paris. So how do you go about taking a hot air balloon ride? Well, attend a Balloon Festival, and there are many that are held across the world, or find an operator who will take you up for a fee. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s safe. So come on, let’s go up, up and away!

Cappadocia, Turkey
The quirky fairy chimneys of Cappadocia form an impressive and surreal backdrop when seen from overhead. The limestone conical rocks that soar up towards the sky amidst olive groves and red canyons looks like a moonscape and unlike anything you might have seen before. Add to this the huge colourful balloons that hover above and you have all the makings of a flight of fantasy. Perhaps the best way to get a bird’s eye view of Cappadocia is aboard a hot air balloon!

Masai Mara, Kenya
View the great migration of the wildebeest and zebras across the Masai Mara from atop a hot air balloon! From July to October, the ‘greatest show on earth’ takes place here with gazillions of beasts running in unison. And what better way to see this, than from 1000 ft high in the sky, floating across in a hot air balloon and taking in the fantastic scenes of the wildebeest, grasslands and river crossings below. It’s an experience that will be etched in your mind and stay with you long after the migration is over!

Phoenix & Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
Hop aboard a hot air balloon and glide away over the desert area below. The landscape in this area is filled with giant Saguaro cacti that soar up almost fifty feet high, the Sonoran Desert below is beautiful with flora and fauna that is endemic to the region and is scattered around boulders balancing precariously one on top of another. Go with the wind, feel the gentle breeze and watch the scenery below as your colourful balloon floats away. End the ride with a champagne breakfast on the ground. By the way the sunrise rides are the best, so wake up early and catch that balloon ride.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, USA
An annual festival held at Albuquerque, this is perhaps the biggest ballooning event in the world. The sky is filled with colourful gas balloons bobbing up and down – balloonists put up shows to show off their prowess, competitions take place and in the evening the sky is aglow with lit up balloons. Either watch the vibrant spectacle or climb into a basket and soar away above the ground to drift along and get a bird’s eye view of the scenic land below.

Bagan, Myanmar
Bagan happens to be the last vestige that seems to be lost in a bygone era. Second only to Angkor Wat, the ancient temples of Bagan in Myanmar are centuries old and have been designated a World Heritage Site. View the beautiful complex of temples, pavilions and gleaming pagodas from the top and get a completely different perspective. The best time to do this would probably be as the first rays of the sun light hits and the 5000 pagodas below are awash in the morning light. Remember though, that hot air ballooning does not take place in the months from April to September as this is also when the monsoons ravage the region.

Queenstown, New Zealand
Amongst the many adventure activities in Queenstown, hot air ballooning is definitely on top of the list. The natural beauty of New Zealand is well known, and what better way to capture those panoramic views than from up in the air? Crystal clear lakes surrounded by beautiful mountains, a tranquil atmosphere and a squeaky clean environment, Queenstown offers arguably some of the finest landscapes seen only in picture postcards.

Some facts about ballooning:
- The hot air balloon works on propane gas which when heated helps lift the balloon.
- The basket of the balloon is generally made of wicker and is strong and flexible.
- Dress in layers when going ballooning as the higher you rise, the cooler it gets.
- Hot air balloons are best operated early morning or at dusk when weather is cool and the wind speed is low at these time, so the balloon gets a good lift.
- Hot air balloons are safe as long as they are flown by qualified pilots.
- An average ride lasts about an hour and the altitude it flies at is between 500 and 3000 feet, though it can go much higher.
- Depending upon the balloon size it can carry 2 – 10 passengers.
- Be prepared to stand for the whole journey and do take a camera along.

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