A bird’s-eye-view of the picturesque landscape as you glide through the mountain bluffs. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? The majestic feeling that comes with flying high in the sky is something we truly cherish. And what better way to experience this than hot air ballooning? Well, flying in Cappadocia might be a bit of a far-fetched dream, especially in the light of recent events. With half a million visitors every year, it is undoubtedly the number one destination for hot air ballooning all over the globe. But if you’re looking for some place close to home, here are few places within the country that have created quite the stir.
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A popular getaway from Mumbai and Pune, Lonavala offers a panoramic view of the lush surrounding Sahyadri range. Surrounded by dense forests, waterfalls, dams and lakes, Lonavala is a must-visit, if a nature retreat is what’s on your mind. But did you know you could also take to the skies to enjoy this scenic landscape? Kamshet, about 12km outside Lonavala is where one can enjoy an enchanting hot air balloon safari. Subject to certain wind conditions, the balloon can reach a maximum height of 4,000ft and provides an aerial view of the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Sky Waltz, one of the pioneers in the ballooning circuit in India is offering the opportunity to see India through this spectacular frame.
Goa—the one stop destination for all things adventure. Think golden sand, expansive sea, and palm-fringed beaches. Your Goa trip can either be a relaxed one with a martini in one hand and book in another or it can be one of the most adrenaline pumping experiences of a lifetime. When you’re in Goa, you can never be short of adventure activities. While the waters of Goa have never failed to surprise the beach-bums, the skies still await you! A 360-degree view of the sparkling azure sea, the sun-kissed shores and maybe even a mesmerising sunset. Well, we’d suggest keeping the camera ready! There are several tour operators who offer hot air balloon rides. Typically the safari starts early in the morning or late in evening, depending on the weather conditions.
Perhaps the only place in India to host an annual hot air balloon festival, Karnataka with its heritage sites, beautiful beaches, incredible wildlife and serene landscape has become a hotspot for adventure tourism. Held in December every year, the festival is an initiative by the state tourism department to promote Karnataka as a premium destination for adventure sports. The four-day event includes other thrilling activities including paragliding, bungee jumping and zip lining. Offering a spectacular view as you loom above the ancient ruins of Hampi or the royal palaces of Mysuru, the festival sees hordes of tourists every year. There are certified operators and agencies that conduct these safaris.
Rajasthan (Jaipur, Pushkar)
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The most popular destination for hot air ballooning in India is the glorious state of Rajasthan.We’d suggest heading to Jaipur for this unparalleled travel experience. The ‘Pink City’ has some exciting hot air balloon rides to offer, starting with the Amber Fort. While the take off location is mainly decided by the pilot, it also largely depends on wind directions. Other common locations include Shiv Vilas and the Delhi-Jaipur road. While we are in Rajasthan, it would be criminal to not mention the Pushkar Fair. The Pushkar hot air balloon festival is sure to send your adrenaline rushing! Sky Waltz, the country’s first licensed and government approved operator, run the rides here.
Himachal Pradesh (Manali)
We agree. Hot air ballooning isn’t the first thing that'll pop in your mind when you think about adventure holidays in Himachal, well, Manali to be precise. River rafting, paragliding and skiing are more likely to make the cut. However, this air-based adventure sport has intrigued the curiosity of tourists here. Our recommendation would be to head to Bhang Valley. Floating over the snow-capped peaks, fast flowing rivers and winding valleys is sure one of the most calming yet enthralling experiences.