The first manned hot air balloon happened on November 21, 1783! Two French brothers, Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier, launched their balloon from the center of Paris and it flew for 20 minutes. On January 7, 1793, George Washington was on hand to witness the first launch of a hot air balloon in North America. Today, hot air ballooning has become a popular activity with balloon festivals the world over. You can even visit the National Balloon Museum & U. S. Ballooning Hall of Fame in Indianola, Iowa.
Hot air ballooning offers perspectives you would not otherwise enjoy. Indeed, many of us have that special balloon ride on our bucket lists. We selected five really spectacular balloon opportunities.
Bagan, Myanmar: Imagine an early morning flight over the magnificent temples of Bagan, drifting over the temples of this ancient city giving you views that no ancient king or mystic could have imagined. Dotted with thousands of 800-year-old temple ruins, Bagan entered its golden era in 1057 AD. During the kingdom’s height, more than 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan. Today you float above some of the more than 2,200 temples and pagodas that still survive. During our 10-day Myanmar adventure you not only fly over Bagan, you also get a change to explore the ruins by bicycle.
Mendoza, Argentina: Fly above Mendoza’s stunning landscapes and vineyards in the region of foothills and high plains on the eastern side of the Andes. Mendoza is known for its olive oil production and wine making. In fact, the region around greater Mendoza is the largest wine producing area in Latin America. As such, it is one of nine cities worldwide in the network of Great Capitals of Wine. Fly above the stunning landscapes, vineyards and towns. This is also a great spot from which to explore some of the region’s hundreds of wineries located along the Argentina Wine Route. Add a hot air balloon ride to your Argentina adventure.
Marrakech, Morocco: Soar above this imperial city, with its ancient medinas and modern offices, drift over the open desert plains, and settlements, and savor views of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains as the sun rises. This region was inhabited by Berber farmers from Neolithic times, but the city was founded in 1062 AD. Like many Moroccan cities, Marrakesh comprises an old fortified city packed with shops and stalls of the medina, and is bordered by modern neighborhoods, the most prominent of which is Gueliz. Today it is one of the busiest cities in Africa. Add a hot air balloon ride to your Marrakech adventure such as our Morocco: Splendors of the Berber South.
Kafue, Zambia: Kafue National Park is the largest national park in Zambia and the second largest in Africa, covering an area about the size of Massachusetts. The Kafue landscape is ideal for a hot air balloon flight as it slowly floats above the vast Busanga Plains with its sweeping herds of buffalo, large pods of hippos, lone elephants and fantastic lion prides. You’ll pass over a patchwork of lagoons, tree islands and floodplains. Ballooning over Kafue is an extraordinary safari experience, and can be incorporated into our 11-day Zambia journey.
Cappadocia, Turkey: Take a breathtaking early morning flight for a unique aerial view of this stunning area of other-worldly rock formations, subterranean churches and underground dwellings such as the amazing rock formations known as the ‘Fairy Chimneys’. Cappadocia was once a refuge for the early Christians, who escaped persecution by living and worshipping underground. There are an estimated 3,000 rock churches in this region. Include this experience in your visit to Turkey such as our 20-day Turkey and Morocco exploration.