Hot Air Balloon Ride

Flying in a hot air balloon is one of the most unforgettable experiences – breathtaking views in all directions as you float through 2000 ft! I am someone who is extremely scared of heights and I wasn’t sure if this is something for me. I keep running away from skydiving for the same reason. Its one of the “do it before you die” experiences, I know! But not sure if it’s for the faint hearted like me 🙂 If you fall in the same boat, trust me, hot air balloon is an extremely satisfying and wonderful experience; you won’t be terrified, I promise!

  • Where?

Well, I chose to do it in Napa Valley, California. As per CNtraveler, 9 best places in the world to balloon at are

  1. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. …
  2. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. …
  3. Cappadocia, Turkey
  4. Napa Valley, California
  5. Sossusvlei, Namibia
  6. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  7. Queenstown, New Zealand
  8. Château-d’Oex, Switzerland
  9. Atacama Desert, Chile

  • Which company?

I picked ‘Balloons Above the Valley’ based on Yelp reviews and they certainly didn’t disappoint. I wanted to pick someone who was experienced, reasonably priced and safe. There are lot more companies out there but if you don’t advance book, its difficult to find availability at most of them. This thing is pretty popular! I ended up paying USD 220 per person which I think is reasonable. This included the ride and breakfast. Their pick up was from where we stayed (Marriott @Napa valley) so it was pretty comfortable. I did the morning one which begins at 7 AM. During the winter months (November through March), weather can be unpredictable and hence, it may happen that your ride gets canceled. Try doing this in summer, I did it end of March. Fortunately, the weather permitted and we flew!

  • What to Wear?

Layers of clothing – you can remove them as the sun and the temperature rise. A hat – that will serve as a sun visor, some warmth and protection from the heat of the burners (if you happen to be tall or thin-haired) Comfortable closed-toe shoes – They launch from the fields and often land in fields, so comfortable shoes are ideal. I wore a dress and heels for good pictures, don’t repeat my mistake 😀 

  • What to carry?

A camera and/or video cam – this will provide you with lots of great pictures and lots of wonderful memories. Sunglasses and oh an empty bladder! A wonderful sense of thrill and adventure is a must carry as well! 🙂

  • What does the flight look like?

Most passengers don’t realize how peaceful and majestic a hot air balloon flight can be. Since you travel with the wind, gliding through the air at low and high altitudes, the only time you feel the breeze is when you change altitude and the wind speed changes. At times, you may skim the trees (grab a souvenir leaf!), soar to several thousand feet (where you can see the Earth’s curvature), and even dip the gondola in a lake or pond (this is called a “splash and dash”). All of these are common occurrences and part of the full ballooning experience.

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  • The most exciting part?

The entire journey is pleasing and views are breathtaking. But the landing is the most exciting part of the hot air balloon experience. The pilot will spot out a landing site based on time-of-day, and geographical knowledge attained from flying in the area. Landings vary depending on the wind speed and terrain. … The balloon may drag and turn sideways with moderate to high winds (this is what happened with me). But all is well and here I am writing this blog.

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Landing that didn’t go too well!

If you are around in Napa or any of the places that serve as a good destination to balloon, go for it. Its a lifetime experience! Hope this post helped. Shout out for any questions. Always happy to help!

Cheers,

K

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