Go hot air ballooning over Bagan, Burma (Terry Feuerborn)

10 places for an unforgettable hot air balloon ride

30th December 2011

Escape the crowds and experience the thrill of seeing the world from above by taking to the skies with a serene aerial cruise, says Christine Fleitz

Christine Fleitz

1. Wadi Rum, Jordan

Tour the vast wilderness of Wadi Rum via hot air balloon for a truly riveting experience. Gently rock in the wind and take in the juxtaposing beauty of red sandy dunes, jagged monolithic rockscapes, and the occasional natural spring.

This complex landscape, also known as the Valley of the Moon, is best seen in the crimson light of sunset. With its proximity to the Israeli border, this is also a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of Israel and the Red Sea.

2. Queenstown, New Zealand

As the adventure capital of the world, Queensland has plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities to keep you busy. But amid the excitement, don't forget to admire the natural beauty of New Zealand's South Island. Survey dramatic mountains and deep lakes, resembling scenes straight out of Lord of the Rings, at a leisurely pace from the basket of a hot air balloon.

3. Cappadocia, Turkey

Surreal rock formations along with favourable weather conditions make Cappadocia a magical spot for hot air ballooning. Marvel at the magnificent landscape, as you float above the rugged limestone peaks of whimsical fairy chimneys, scattered amid steep green valleys. Each season offers its own treasures, so you'll be in for a treat any time of the year, whether its blankets of snow in the winter, poppies in the springtime, flowers in the summer, or the golden hue of autumn.



4. Namib Desert, Namibia

An aerial cruise through the heart of the Namib Desert is guaranteed to amaze any traveller. Begin your adventure just before sunrise and watch the colours of the desert transform before your eyes. Drift silently over the stunning orange and pink sand dunes of Sossusvlei, whisked into razor sharp edges, and marvel at the unique rock formations of the Naukluft Mountain massif.

5. Napa Valley, US

Delicious wine, indulgent food, and luxurious accommodation, make Napa Valley an idyllic getaway. Add a hot air balloon ride over vineyards, olive groves and plunging valleys, and you've simply got perfection. Prepare for romance and excitement, as you survey the palette of stunning colours, which make up one of the best wine regions in the world.

6. Masai Mara, Kenya

The Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya is renowned for playing a central role in the annual Great Migration. Just over a million zebras, gazelle and wildebeest travel through the park in search of food and hot air balloonists get an unparalleled bird-eye-view of this phenomenal wildlife spectacle. It may be one of the more expensive aerial experiences but for wildlife-watching it's one of the best!

7. Stockholm, Sweden

You don't need vast deserts and jagged peaks for an exhilarating aerial cruise – glide over bustling streets and shimmering city lights for just as stunning views. Stockholm is one of the few major cities in Europe that allow hot air balloon rides in their airspace, making it a fantastic destination for summer balloonists. Explore the Swedish capital from above, and gaze upon town houses, turrets and the glistening Baltic sea.

8. Bagan, Burma

Drift over thousands of pagodas in the ancient city of Bagan for a truly unique hot air ballooning experience. Mostly constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries, they sit in silent contemplation on a plain next to the Irrawaddy River. For an unrivalled view of this ancient kingdom take flight in the soft light of dawn or dusk.

9. The Outback, Australia

Hot air ballooning is an exhilarating way to see the Australian Outback. Viewing this iconic landscape from above will make you appreciate the phenomenal scale of this striking red desert as it stretches out endlessly in every direction. Watch kangaroos bounce below or eagles swirl above, and marvel at the grandeur of Uluru and the nearby Kata Tjuta.

10. Nile River, Egypt

Escape the swarming crowds, and enjoy a peaceful flight above the Nile with unbeatable views of some of Egypt’s most prominent and ancient monuments, juxtaposed with rural landscapes. Rise in the dawn to witness the tranquil majesty of the pyramids and Luxor's famous temples, as the sun breaks the horizon. Experience a different, little-seen side to Egypt as you pass over children playing in the river, and women working in the slowly-swaying fields.

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Key Facts

  • Kenya

    Kenya travel guide, including map of Kenya, top Kenya travel experiences, tips for travel in Kenya, plus where to see wildlife in Kenya

  • Sweden

    Sweden travel guide, including map of Sweden, top Sweden travel experiences, tips for travel in Sweden, plus the best islands in Sweden

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