Traveling is all about opening our eyes to new cultures and there’s no better viewpoint than high in the sky. Surprisingly, hot air balloon rides are relatively inexpensive in most countries and the photographs we leave with are well worth the cost. From the historic sites of Luxor and Angkor Wat to the wild Australian Outback and Maasai Mara in Kenya, here are 10 inspiring hot air balloon rides to jumpstart your summer travel.
1. Las Vegas, Nevada
Vegas is a playground for adults and with endless casino excitement, outdoor adventure and poolside relaxation, visiting Sin City is a no-brainer. Vegas may be designed for nightlife, but discrediting the many day activities would be a mistake. Contributing to Las Vegas as a premier hot air balloon destination is its unique view of both nature and architecture. Once airborne, riders can see Red Rock Canyon in addition to the famous city strip and countless themed casinos imitating countries from every continent. Where else can you fly above France, Spain, and Italy simultaneously?
Book a Las Vegas Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride, complete with a champagne breakfast and light hors d’oeuvres.
2. Luxor, Egypt
A huge chunk of the world’s ancient ruins are found in Egypt so naturally this historic country makes for a great skyline view. Floating over the Great Pyramids of Giza is definitely a memorable one, but taking a ride above Luxor gives travelers a birds-eye view of the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, and a slew of other monuments and temples on site. Like any balloon ride, riders are prepped before cramming into the brimming basket on safety precautions and landing positions. If available, book the ride departing before sunrise to catch up with sun just after takeoff.
3. The Outback, Australia
For the average traveler, visiting the Australian Outback is a trip of a lifetime, which means there should be no holding back when it comes to adventure-seeking fun. Hot air balloon rides overlook famous rock formations including the famous Ayers Rock and Mount Olga. Considered one of Australia’s most impressive landmarks, Ayers Rock appears in various colors especially during sunrise and sunset. Geographically, the outback is located right in the middle of the country, giving you a view of the surrounding regions of Australia. Make sure your camera is charged and ready to capture these natural highlights. The outback is notoriously hot so dress accordingly and pack lots of water.
4. Cappadocia, Turkey
Similar to the Australian Outback, the scenic view from atop Cappadocia overlooks deep valleys, impressive limestone, rock mountains, sand desert, and the red canyons. The view is particularly stunning during sunrise so try getting an early ticket. Most tour operators offer hotel pick-up and drop-off in addition to a champagne toast. Get ready to see wine vineyards, fruit orchards, and small villages as you float through the quiet air. The weather is generally pleasant in Cappadocia so while rescheduling is possible, it’s not a main concern. To avoid potentially bad weather, book during the months of April through October.
Book a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride, complete with a buffet breakfast before your flight and a champagne toast and souvenir medal after.
5. Loire Valley, France
If your dream as a child was to become a princess and marry Prince Charming, you might feel a hint of nostalgia as you gaze over Loire Valley. About two hundred miles southwest of Paris, the Loire Valley is a colorful blur of ripe vineyards, romantic châteaux, and luscious countryside. Rides run between April and October with Château de Chenonceau and hundreds of accompanying manor houses serving as major highlights. The massive Château dates back to the 16th century and is a stunning example of European architecture. For those interested in taking a look inside, packages are available for ground and sky tours. Guests have the option of departing at dawn or dusk. Both views are different but equally colorful.
6. Maasai Mara, Kenya
Wildlife lovers will likely find Maasai Mara an ideal spot to witness animals in their natural habitat. Situated in Southwestern Kenya, The Maasai Mara National Reserve is home to the Great Migration. To see millions of zebras, wildebeests, gazelles, and other wild animals embark on their search for water, the best time to visit is between July and October. With the Great Migration out of the equation, the landscape alone is enough to entice travelers to this part of the world. Expansive woodlands, rivers, plains, and plateaus are sure to inspire and light the flame of environmental passion. Most tours to Maasai Mara include a hot air balloon flight in the itinerary but this excursion can also be booked separately.
7. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
A trip to Cambodia is not complete without an open-air view of Angkor Wat. The site serves as the largest religious building across the globe and the balloon basket is shaped more circular than square, giving visitors an awe-inspiring 360-degree view. Balloon rides departs about a mile west of Angkor Wat and once in the air, passengers can easily view Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples in Siem Reap and the Barays. Those afraid of heights will find this ride the least threatening on our list. Lasting a quick fifteen minutes and reaching under 700 feet in the air, the balloon is tied to the ground the entire duration, better allowing tourists to identify each temple.
8. Château-d’Oex, Switzerland
It’s hard to exclude the Swiss Alps from a list of inspiring hot air balloon views. Despite the cold temperatures, looking below at snow-covered mountains and seeing Mont-Blanc, the Matterhorn, and Lake Geneva from a distance is pretty unbeatable. A January visit to the Lake Geneva region coincides with the country’s International Hot Air Balloon Festival, making this a popular time to rise above the clouds. Even if you are afraid of heights, a January visit lets you live vicariously through the competing teams representing more than a dozen different countries. Summer is another popular season for balloon flights due to the more agreeable temperature and high tourist season.
9. San Carlos, Costa Rica
Adding to Latin American charm is the diverse landscape seen throughout the region. Costa Rica makes up for its small geographic size by filling its borders with rainforests, mountains, and volcanoes. On any given day, tourists can see monkeys jumping from nearby treetops, and when the weather is clear the view of the still active Arenal Volcano is visible from a hot air balloon. Departure takes place twenty miles east of the volcano and safety regulations require that baskets stay at least fifteen miles from the base. While waiting for your ride to start, get there early to watch the workers inflate each balloon. The process takes about thirty minutes and adds to the overall excitement of the day.
10. Napa Valley, California
The California premier wine region is also an ideal place to view the surrounding nature from high altitudes. In fact, Napa is the busiest hot air balloon destination in the world. Many travelers come here to enjoy good wine and delicious food but stay for the outdoor setting of olive groves, yellow sunflower fields, and surrounding valleys. It’s also a prime location for wedding proposals so there is definitely magic in the air. Most tours last about an hour and include a picnic lunch as part of the packaged deal. Prices may seem a bit steep compared to other cities but many visitors in Napa Valley are looking for a more laid-back and luxurious experience.