Hot air balloons are a magical way to experience unique landscapes, cities and quaint little towns. There’s something quite extraordinary in being able to soar above a herd of elephants or wild zebras as it is to take in fields of lavender and wild thyme. Intrigued? Here are the top five balloon rides to spice up your travel diary.
Cappadocia tops our list because one of the best ways to experience the region’s ‘fairy chimneys’ is to glide over the surreal landscape in a colourful hot air balloon. Most local tour operators in Cappadocia offer these rides at various times of the day, but you should aim for the pre-dawn flight. If you do, you would be up in the skies, and catching the sun rise as your balloon glides softly over the fairy chimneys — that’s the 60-million-year-old rock formations that look as if they belong to a galaxy far away from earth. That’s not all. You will also be able to take in the hillside settlements, and breath-taking valleys. And once your balloon safely lands, you’re in for a treat too – champagne and some hard-earned Turkish breakfast!
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The Serengeti National Park allows you to observe wild animals in their natural habitat, and of course, you can do that via an open jeep, but the hot air balloon experience is something out of the ordinary. It offers you unhindered views of various herds of wild beasts — including elephants, zebras, giraffes, and if you are lucky, you’ll tick off all the Big Five! A good idea would be to book your flight during June or July or during late August and early September. That’s because it’s the time when wildebeest are on the move. The Serengeti National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a hot air balloon ride would enable you to witness its charm and unparalleled beauty in a truly unique way. And if you do so during the time of the Great Migration (the largest animal migration in the world), you will definitely have stories and photographs of a lifetime!
Tuscany’s alluring landscape has appeared in many movies — including ‘The English Patient‘ and ‘Life is Beautiful‘ — and if this is one place you want to check out in style, we totally recommend doing so via a hot air balloon. The countryside is gorgeous with its olive groves, vineyards and ancient townships. With a hot air balloon, you get a bird’s eye view of the landscape and some really good photographs. It would make for the perfect birthday gift for a loved one or even bring in an important anniversary. Most local operators offer a variety of flights, from standard to exclusive private and privilege tours. We would recommend booking in advance for a special occasion and to opt for the Prosecco breakfast which will treat you to lots of local produce, including the region’s famed varieties of cheese.
Imagine soaring over fields of lavender and wild sage, and taking in hilltop villages. If you are already ‘seeing purple,’ we recommend you start planning your trip to France right away. You could head there for next spring and experience some of the most picturesque locations that Provence has to offer. Plus, you would also come back with loads of Instagram-friendly images to show off to your friends and family.
Bagan has more than 8000 temples and pagodas, and we reckon that the easiest way to take them all in, specially an aerial view, is by a hot air balloon. Flying over the ancient ruins as you are enveloped in shades of orange and hues of yellows and reds is absolutely magical. You will also fly over local villages and towns, and be able to take in so much of the life and stunning locations that you may otherwise miss.