Although the first flight took off in 1783, hot-air balloon rides continue to exude a certain amount of charm. Here are some destinations around the world that allow you to recapture the magic of flying by traversing the skies in a charming, vintage style. By Bayar Jain
1. Cappadocia, Turkey
There’s a calming demeanour in flying over a rocky landscape such as that of Cappadocia. Considered one of the oldest known human habitations, this Turkish beauty owes its appearance to the winds and rains which have shaped the area’s soft volcanic rocks. Try timing your visit to this place with the rising or setting sun to make the most of the dramatic persona of the iconic ‘fairy chimneys’.
2. Canterbury Plains, New Zealand
Stretching out like a patch-worked quilt, the Canterbury Plains unravel in perfectly synchronised grazing fields. This river-rich area accounts for almost 80 per cent of New Zealand’s grain and crop production, making it a land abundant in a myriad of colours and hues. Floating above these plains not only allow you to soak in the panoramic splendour, but also give you a teasing glimpse of the snow-capped Southern Alps, which lay beyond.
3. Napa Valley, United States of America
Although the Napa Valley is famous for its many on-ground delights and activities, an equally – if not more – memorable experience can be created while bobbing over the plains. While in a hot-air balloon here, you’ll be treated to sweeping vineyards in the foreground and the San Francisco skyline in the distance. If weather permits, views of Mount St. Helena, and the Mayacamas Mountains could also be added to your kitty.
4. Bagan, Myanmar
Drifting over thousands of pagodas is a blissful experience, to say the least. Dating back to the 11th and 13th centuries, the glittering spires of these tranquil structures are stunning when viewed from above. Paired with the rustic reds that paint the wide, flat landscape, Bagan sits in silent contemplation next to the Irrawaddy River – a unique sight in itself.
5. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Serengeti National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, witnesses the migration of innumerable wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles every year. While it is impossible to see the entire 5,700 square-mile national park, gliding through its expansive plains make this daunting task easier. The plains of the Serengeti are particularly suited for balloon flights as they give you a vantage point to see the wild action – a privilege unavailable when in an on-road safari vehicle.