The first hot air balloon launched back in 1783, stayed in the air for 15 minutes and the test passengers were a sheep, a rooster and a duck in order to determine the effect of high altitude on living beings. That same year in Paris the first human flight by the French brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier took to the air for 20 minutes and hot air ballooning became reality.
Besides the fact that it can be done almost anywhere, the best thing about hot air ballooning is that the destination is guided by the wind, and the pilot’s skill, making each outing a unique adventure. Here are a few picturesque destinations around the world that are ideal for getting carried up, up and away.
Arenal, Costa Rica– Float peacefully above the tree line canopy where monkeys hang out and drift over lush rainforests and rivers for a bird’s eye view of Costa Rica’s wild side. To view the imposing Arenal volcano makes this area extra special.
Bagan, Myanmar/Burma– The sunrise flight over the ancient Bagan plains is sure to invoke a sense of serenity. There are over 2,000 decaying pagodas, monasteries and temples that date back to the 11th–13th centuries A.D. that dot the landscape.
Canterbury Plains, New Zealand– For as far as the eye can see there is a patchwork of multi-green fields that stretch out to the base of the Southern Alps. The fresh clean air and beautiful countryside combine to make for an exciting flight.
Cappadocia, Turkey– Soft volcanic rock in the shape of storybook chimneys fill the Goreme Valley along with church caves that were carved around 1000-1200 A.D. From the hot air balloon basket 100s of chimneys, pillars and cones of pink, yellow and dark copper brown can be seen.
Masai Mara, Kenya– Silently fly over the king of the jungle’s territory. Observe other wildlife in their natural habitat. Watch from above the great wildebeest migration. Since the terrain is mainly grasslands with areas of acacia trees, the ability to witness nature in action is pretty clear.
In an airplane, we soar through the sky moving too fast in our cramped seats to enjoy the view. A hot air balloon ride allows us to be a part of the show, enjoying what’s around, above and below us.