My adventure of a lifetime (by far that is): hot air ballooning. For someone who’s well known to be afraid of heights, but not challenges, it was a special moment. I am trying to overcome my fears and that’s how I ended up 2000m up in the air in Barcelona region in a gigantic wicker basket which can take 16 people – and is held up in the air by a 36m (118ft) long balloon!
It wasn’t quite the crack of a dawn flight, but still early morning (7am departure) to make sure that the weather wasn’t too hot yet, as that’s not very good for the balloon. We were picked up by the Globus KonTiki crew from the hotel and we towed the balloon and the rest of the kit to the start location (the landing is always a bit unknown as you are in the mercy of the winds).
We got to help with the unloading, setup and filling the balloon (quite a laborious tasks, although packing up the balloon afterwards was even more so).
As weird as it might sound like, but while the balloon was being filled with hot air we were able to walk inside and take some pictures. When the balloon is initially filled, the air that is blown in is actually cold.
Once the balloon was almost full, we got to jump into the basket one by on from different sides in order to keep up the balance – and then, just like that we were off the ground, going slowly up, up and away.
Another unusual thing about being in a hot air balloon is that it doesn’t feel like you are very high up at all – and it doesn’t feel like you are moving – apparently because the balloon is moving “inside the wind” was what our pilot, Angel, explained to us.
Flying with a balloon was a really exciting, yet relaxing experience – and since the company we flew with, KonTiki, has some of the best pilots in the world (they compete around the world and one of the few teams who managed to even fly over Kilimanjaro in Africa), the flight was very well controlled to the level of our pilot gently lowering the balloon at some point for us to touch the trees below. What an amazing skill set for such an “unpredictable” environment where are are in the mercy of the winds!
Keeping the balloon up in the air is a continuous process: just like in the movies, one needs to release gas to create more hot air every few minutes to keep the balloon going up.
The reason why balloon flights happen early int he morning in most places is not only because it’s beautiful to see the sun rise, or like in our case to see the mist lift off and reveal the beautiful landscape – it’s because the balloons cannot fly when it’s very windy or if it’s too hot (because you need hot air to lift the balloon up, and the hotter the air outside the balloon, it needs to be incrementally hotter inside the balloon also (see here a great explanation for the weather conditions affecting the flights).
So what can you expect from your balloon ride? With Globus KonTiki you’ll get a pick-up and drop-off to your hotel, you’ll get to help to set up (as well as pack away) the equipment, the ride itself, a lovely brunch afterwards with a video show of photos from the trip and a link to download photos afterwards, as well as a certificate of the experience. I really liked the part of getting the photo downloads, as the team takes photos of the balloon during the ride and Angel, our pilot, took group selfies and other beautiful photos to share during the flight.
And finally, a couple of fab videos to share from this trip, first of my friend, vlogger Arnaud from Dutchified, and I even make my first video appearance. Enjoy their videos!
And Inta from Curious Cat Expat also had a great video of our flight:
Disclosure: This trip was sponsored by Globus KonTiki and Barcelona Region Tourism Board, however, as always all opinions are my own.