Float serenely above epic landscapes on the world’s ultimate balloon experiences. Like the Masai Mara, Cappadocia, vineyards, castles, desert, mountains and Aztec ruins.
From a balloon there’s a new perspective, a vista far beyond anything found on land. And it’s so relaxing, drifting with the sunrise, exploring the world in a different way.
Here are our 10 favourite hot air balloon experiences from around the world.
1. Saint Emilion Hot Air Balloon Ride
Bordeaux has over 7000 chateaux and only one hot air balloon company. The difference to other destinations is that the baskets are really small – they can only take two to four passengers. You can even float with a local chateaux owner.
Where better than a balloon to do a grand cru wine tasting than above the vineyard?
Tip: After the grape harvest in September – October there are more open spaces for hot air balloons to take off and land. That means more flexibility for your flight.
2. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
With over 550 balloons, Albuquerque in New Mexico is host to the biggest balloon festival on the planet. Albuquerque is also where Breaking Bad was filmed, so hopefully the balloon pilots are not high on crystal meth.
3. Hot Air Balloon Above the Dubai Desert
An Arabian Desert sunrise is difficult to beat. Down below there are dunes, remote farms, small villages and oases. It’s empty and quiet, so different to the bustle and flashing lights of Dubai city. It’s this contrast that makes Dubai ballooning so unique.
You can have an amazing experience on a shared balloon flight, but it is worth booking a private transfer, so you don’t waste time having to pick up other passengers on your flight.
Tip: If you want a closeup of Dubai city then choose the seaplane flight instead.
4. Balloon Above the Ancient Aztec City Teotihuacan
Teotihuacan is over 2000 years old and the ancient Aztec city is most impressive from the air. You see the size and design of history, along with their incredible understanding of astrology.
It’s very common for hot balloon rides to include breakfast when you land. At Teotihuacan in Mexico you can enjoy breakfast in the clouds.
Tip: Mexico City is surprisingly cold, so plan this one for the milder months of May to September.
5. Balloon Above the Masai Mara
Only from the air can you truly appreciate the scale of the great wildebeest migration. 2 million wild mammals are on the move. Scorched grass reveals where they came from. Green grass shows where they will migrate to.
Tip: The Masai Mara is big. Balloons launch in the west, which is two to three hours from some camps in the east. Stay at a camp in Mara North or the Mara Triangle to reduce the transfer time.
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6. Fly Over Bagan (Don’t Fly Over Angkor Wat!)
Bagan in Myanmar and Angkor near Siem Reap, Cambodia, are Asia’s two most incredible temple complexes. Both offer hot air balloon flights. Travel to Myanmar is not safe right now due to the political situation. But put this one on your bucketlist – you fly directly over more than 2000 temples and pagodas.
Warning! Don’t be tricked into a balloon flight over Angkor Wat. It’s a fairground ride! The balloon is actually attached by rope and is not permitted to fly over Angkor Wat, so the “flight” is only ten minutes long.
7. Segovia Balloon Flight in Spain
Admire a horizon of ancient architecture from the air, on a hot air balloon ride over picturesque Segovia. This is an awesome morning trip from nearby Madrid, a chance to escape the city and feast on Spain’s early history. Usually you float high enough to be amid layers of thin cloud, before descending to a medieval palace, grand city walls, and a glass of Cava.
Tip: It’s a 4:30am start from Madrid so no partying the night before. Madrid will still be slumbering when you return, so extend your experience with a half-day tour of Segovia.
8. Balloon Above the Snowy Courchevel Mountains
The views are always spectacular on a clear day in the French Alps. They’re even better from a hot air balloon. In Courchevel they have different sized baskets, taking from two to 30 people. Whatever your group size, you can fly safely in private.
You float with the wind, which means there isn’t any wind chill. However, the air temperature is still very cold and you take off before the sun.
Tip: It sounds romantic skiing to the take off point, but the lift system doesn’t open in time. So expect to miss a morning on the slopes.
9. Balloon Above Melbourne
Most hot air balloon experiences are in rural places. In Melbourne you trade in scenic landscapes for city skyscrapers and historic monuments. This is one of only a few balloon rides that take you over a big city. You can also fly above the nearby Yarra Valley vineyards, but for this Down Under experience choose the cityscape.
10. Balloon Flight Over Cappadocia
Cappadocia is the world’s most famous hot air balloon experience. Up to 150 balloons can be in the sky every morning, floating across the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia at sunrise. DJ Ben Bohmer played a live gig from one of the balloons!
It’s so popular there are two separate take off times. For empty skies take the 6am slot. For photos of all the balloons you’ll want to launch about 25 minutes later.
Tip: It can be just as beautiful watching all the balloons from land. Museum Hotel has an incredible terrace for watching it all.
Your Hot Air Balloon Experience
Wherever you fly, hot air ballooning is always an impressive experience. Just remember that ballooning is extremely weather dependent. Cancellations are extremely common, usually because the wind is too strong or blowing in the wrong direction.
So your biggest consideration is not where, but when. Always book your hot air balloon flight for your first morning in the destination. Then you have back up days in case of cancellation. And don’t be scared. The FAA declared that hot air balloons are the safest of all forms of air travel!