Hot-air balloon flights
Written by Oryx
Canvas billows, guy-ropes loosen, and you’re up and away, heading on a slow drift across beautiful landscapes. Here are six places perfect for the romance of a hot-air balloon ride.
Ballooning conditions are near perfect between April and October in central Turkey, making this a world hotspot for the pastime. Some 250,000 people take to the skies annually to admire Cappadocia’s rugged valleys and startling rock formations from above. A gentle float takes you above rock pillars in white and pink, cliff faces riddled with ancient dwellings, and farmland dotted with orchards and cornfields.
Sabiha Gökçen Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
Wadi Rum, Jordan
Rocky mountains and orange-tinted desert make this valley in southern Jordan one of the Middle East’s most spectacular ballooning sites. As you soar above the convoluted rock formations and sheer cliffs of the wadi you get a stunning look at desert landscapes, and on the clearest of days you might even spot the Red Sea glinting in the distance.
Distance: 1,693 km
Flight Time: 3 hours, 5 minutes
Frequency: 9 flights a week
Yarra Valley, Melbourne
Early-morning flights in the Yarra Valley, Melbourne’s nearest country escape, are popular for their slow drift across vineyards, orchards, and rolling farmland, with the mountains of the Victorian Alps providing a distant, blue-smudged backdrop. Look closely and you might even spot kangaroos hopping below. June is a particularly beautiful month, when vine leaves turn orange, splashing the landscape with colour.
Distance: 11,973 km
Flight Time: 13 hours, 30 minutes
Château d’Œx, Switzerland
One of Europe’s great ballooning centres – thanks to excellent flying conditions – has a spectacular January balloon festival and even a museum devoted to the history of this aerial endeavour. But, at any time of year, drifting through the skies above the Alpine town near Montreux is never short of staggering, with snow-capped mountains in every direction.
Distance: 4,629 km
Flight Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes
Bavaria was the scene of the world’s first Zeppelin flight, but there are reasons to enjoy a ride in a more modest hot-air balloon, with the Bavarian Alps a splendid backdrop on the horizon and plenty of interesting landmarks passing beneath. Take a pre-sunset flight above Rothenburg and see the medieval town from above. Tidy, charming, and picturesque, it’s Bavaria to perfection.
Distance: 4,305 km
Flight Time: 6 hours, 10 minutes
Frequency: 2 flights a day
Seeing the migration of vast numbers of zebra and wildebeest across the wide plains of Serengeti National Park is surely one of the world’s great travel experiences – and even more spectacular when seen from above. As you rise majestically above the savannah with the morning sun, elephants lumber, impalas leap, and great herds of hoofed animals throw up dust. There’s an added thrill when it comes to landing: you certainly don’t want to come down on a herd of buffalo or a pride of lions.
Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Distance: 3,790 km
Flight Time: 5 hours, 40 mins
Frequency: Twice Daily