A sheep, a duck and a rooster were the first to taste the joy of flying in a hot air balloon in France on  September 19, 1783. Invented by the Montgolfier brothers, paper manufacturers by trade, the hot air balloon flight that had left bystanders amazed then, has not ceased to awe onlookers and riders alike, till today. A big paper bag that blows up with an enormous puff of hot air and carries you right over your own rooftop will always be a reason for glee, no matter how old you are. Remember RL Stevenson's poem, “How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it is the pleasantest thing ever a child can do.' Well, here is a list of top 5 most pleasant balloon rides that will take you over rooftops, mountains, and seas.

1. Serengeti, Tanzania

An out of the world experience for lovers of the beasts that romp Serengeti - the hot air balloon ride takes place in the early morning hours. The hot air balloon takes the rider over the flaxen fields that camouflage a variety of wildlife species. You may ride at an altitude of 1000 feet or the winds may just decide to make you hover right above the big cat. And after an hour of hovering in the clear African sky, feast on a real African meal in true African style under an acacia tree. The best time to visit Serengeti are from late April to June and from October to December since this is the best time to view the famous Serengeti wildebeest migrations in Serengeti National Park. The price is in the range of $546 per adult.

Float over the Serengeti National Park with a Hot Air Balloon !

Float over the Serengeti National Park with a Hot Air Balloon !

2. Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley- famous for its vineyards and wineries- is also famous for another activity- the hot air balloon ride that takes you over expanses of green vineyards. On foggy mornings, you can get in touch with tour operators who have exclusive flying rights from Pope Valley Winery, an elevated area that experiences significantly less fog than the rest of Napa Valley. As the balloon soars into the sky, Mt St Helena comes into view, as do the Mayacamas Mt Range and the Vaca Range. With a little luck and a favorable wind on your side, you can also catch a glimpse of the San Francisco skyline. When the views of the beautiful vineyards leave you parched for some classic Cabernet Sauvignon, you can alight to savor some great tasting wine from the famous wine valley itself. Average charge per person is from $200 to $250.

Take to the skies on a hot-air balloon ride over the Napa Valley!

Take to the skies on a hot-air balloon ride over the Napa Valley !

3. Albuquerque Ballon Festival, New Mexico

Run, run, run to Albuqurque if you love balloons. Albuqurque holds the balloon fiesta every year in October. Whether you plan to ride a hot air balloon, or pilot one, or simply watch from the ground- the balloon fiesta in Albuquerque is the best place to do, watch, learn and enjoy. The mass ascension of all the balloons is especially wonderful where all the balloons leave the ground in a coordinated manner drifting to the strains of The Star Spangled Banner. Another spectacle is the Balloon Glow when all the balloons light up their burners together and illuminate the night sky. And as the burners go out, fireworks shoot up dazzling the beholder and dispelling the momentary darkness. General admission tickets to the Albuquerque for people aged 12 and above are for $8 per day.

4. Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia has a landscape that leaves you stunned at the lengths to which human civilization has gone to forge its way even while nature was capricious. Cappadocia has a structure full of canyons, fairy chimneys, pigeon houses, steep ravines and several other rock formations whose colors range from a sunset red to a dull gray. Cappadocia with its astounding view, fully deserves a place in the list of top 5 balloon rides. Deluxe balloon rides of a duration of an hour and a half can be booked. The hot air balloons will levitate right above this place that looks like a kingdom out of a fairy tale. Balloon flight rates range from 175 euros to 1100 euros. The best weather to fly is from April to October. Winters are doable too, but not all of the winter days promise a good flight.

Enjoy the stunning beauty of the Cappadocia from a hot-air balloon!

Enjoy the stunning beauty of the Cappadocia from a hot-air balloon!

5. Loire Valley Chateau, France

A hot air balloon ride across the skies of the Loire Valley is considered by many as the best way to take in the beauty of the region. The Loire Valley balloon rides are scheduled in the early mornings and late afternoons- perfect timings to enjoy the view of the castles that rise against the azure sky. The famous castles here are Chateau of Chenonceau, Azay le Rideau, Chateau and Gardens of Villandry and Royal Chateau of Amboise. Most of the hot air balloon rides take off from Chenonceaux and Amboise. The flying season lasts from April to October. Ticket prices are in the range of 180 euros to 200 euros.

Image creditDavid Berkowitz , Gunther HagleitnerWolfgang Moroder



Published On: Thursday, October 9th, 2014