The expenses of airfare, the incessant pat downs and metal detectors, the waiting, the delays, the jet lag, all take the wonder out of flying. Before airplanes, people rode in hot air balloons — the oldest form of human air travel. If you want to experience the awe of flying again, visit one of these places known for their breathtaking air balloon adventures.
1. Cappadocia, Turkey
The unique landscape of Cappadocia is made of rock and pillar-like structures. From a bird’s eye view the land looks like the surface of the moon. Thousands of years ago, humans made caves and tunnels and formed a rich cultural life within the distinctive rock formations. Hot air balloon rides last about an hour starting at sunrise. Travelers will see volcanic formations which once erupted and left the land covered in ash.
Photo courtesy | Halbag
2. Napa Valley, California
Napa Valley is known for its wine production and its many vineyards located on rolling hills. With many tourist attractions in California, a hot air balloon ride might just be the best way to see the Golden State. Some hot air balloon companies offer views of Mount St. Helena, the Little Old Faithful Geyser and the Palisade cliffs. There’s no better way to experience California’s rolling fields than floating 2,000 feet in the sky!
Photo courtesy | Ali Hamdany
3. Melbourne, Australia
The city of Melbourne is a breath taking sight from many feet in the air. An hour away from Melborne is Yarra Valley, another perfect place to take a hot air balloon ride. Yarra Valley, like Napa Valley, is a place of vineyards and rolling hills. You can also see the Yarra River and mountains in the distance. If you want to stay in Melbourne, that adventure offers sights of Australia’s second largest city, including its parks and gardens, its massive buildings and other significant landmarks.
Photo courtesy | Justin Tan
4. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hot air balloons are part of the culture in Albuquerque. At any time you can look into the distance and see bright colored balls floating in the horizon. It is not uncommon for a hot air balloon to land in someone’s backyard. Don’t miss their culturally and historically rich Balloon Fiesta. It is the largest and most photographed event of its kind. It is a nine affair that sends hundreds of balloons floating into Albuquerque’s clear skies.
Photo courtesy | MN Chile
5. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Take a safari in the air at the Serengeti National Park. You will have the chance to float over vast plains filled with wildlife—hippos, elephants, lions, zebras and many other species. Travelers will rise with the sun and float wherever the wind blows. The pilot will be a committed conservationist who can tell you all about the animals and the plains. After the flight, visitors are treated to an “Out of Africa” breakfast served right in the park.
Photo courtesy | David Berkowitz
6. Bagan, Myanmar
The view from this hot air balloon adventure includes roughly 4,000 pagodas and temples in what was once a great city in the Myanmar Empire. The sunrise over the vast, flat, ancient lands is beyond beautiful. While some of your trip may include visiting these monuments from the ground, the best way to view the 15 square miles of the ancient capital is from the air. Balloons over Bagan offers many different options along with a light breakfast and refreshments.
Photo courtesy | Jason Eppink
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Cover photo courtesy | Moyan Brenn