Here are six of the best places in the world to get a bird’s eye view from a basket!
We can jet halfway across the world in less than a day and fly to space, but we never fall out of love with the magical experience of floating above the ground in a hot air balloon.
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us
Bagan in Myanmar offers one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes for hot air ballooning. With the Irrawaddy River to the west and mountains to the east, you’ll rise slowly at dawn in your balloon basket to fly above Bagan’s mist-wreathed plains, which are dotted with thousands of old temples and stupas.
There’s nothing quite like seeing the famous animals on the open savanna of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park from the air. A dawn take off will have you floating serenely above the grassy plains of the park, which are home to lions, zebra, wildebeest, elephant, giraffes and cheetah. If you’re in the park at the right time of year, you’ll be able to witness the zebra and wildebeest migration – a staggering sight to see from the vantage point of a hot air balloon.
If you only ever do one hot air balloon flight in your life, Cappadocia, in central Turkey is where you should do it. Nowhere else in the world do so many balloons go up at once almost every day. Added to the magic of being surrounded with rainbow-coloured balloons seemingly suspended between sky and earth, is the fantastic aerial perspective of Cappadocia’s incredibly beautiful landscape of snow-capped mountains, gorges, green valleys, ancient mountaintop rock villages and volcanic castles that look like they’re made from Swiss cheese.
The world’s oldest desert, the Namib, is undeniably spectacular: red undulating dunes as far as the eye can see and mountains that turn purple at sunrise, but it’s even more mind-bogglingly beautiful by air. As dawn casts a golden glow over the immensely vast landscape, your hot air balloon rises above the sea of dunes and grassy plains dotted with fairy circles (mysterious patches where nothing grows). Underneath you, startled zebra, which look like striped ants, run from the shadow of the balloon. You land in the middle of the desert where a lavish champagne breakfast is laid out and waiting for you at the foot of giant dunes.
If you’re balloon mad, then you need to put the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, an annual festival held in October in New Mexico, on your bucket list. One of America’s most photogenic festivals, the nine-day event features races and other events in its programme, but by far the most famous events are the four mass ascensions, where more than 500 hot air balloons launch into the sky at once – being part of an ascension in a balloon is an unforgettable experience.
After exploring the Pink City of Jaipur, a feast of lavish palaces and impressive hilltop forts, by foot and on elephant back, ascend into the sky on a balloon safari for gorgeous views over the biscuit-coloured desert landscape and its ancient treasures. Take in the ramparts, symmetrical gardens and courtyards of the 16th-century Amber Fort, the barren Aravalli Hills, crisscrossed with stone walls, and the glittering Maota Lake. Rural Rajasthan unfolds on the flight, as the balloon floats over sleepy villages in the countryside.
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