A unique alternative to regular sightseeing joy flights, hot-air balloon rides provide bird’s-eye views of cities like Quebec, Las Vegas, Melbourne and Phoenix.
The views are unparalleled floating above horizon-spanning countryside like the Dubai desert or Australian Outback. Balloons can also put a different perspective on ancient monuments like the Mexican pyramids or pharaohs’ temples lining the River Nile in Egypt.
Flying where the wind takes you is an unforgettable experience, giving a new meaning to the concept of smooth sailing as you soar to heights of up to 3,000 feet (900 meters) and distances of up to 18 miles (30km). When the burners are off, the sense of quiet tranquility is astounding.
The optimum time to float through the air in a hot-air balloon is sunrise, when the all-important winds are most stable and consistent. Sunset flights are possible in some locations when weather conditions are stable and the air is cool.
Hot-air balloon trips are usually followed by a celebratory champagne breakfast or supper. The tradition of serving champagne goes right back to the earliest balloon flights launched in France in the 18th century.
Pilots and their balloons are certified, registered and licensed, with regular checks ensuring airworthiness. For maximum comfort, wear warm clothing and flat shoes, and don’t forget your camera. You might also like to bring sunglasses and a hat.
Trips are weather dependent – there’s no point going up if it’s raining – and young children may not be allowed to fly. The landing site is usually dependent on the prevailing winds.