Hot Air Ballooning in South Africa

Hot air ballooning in South Africa is arguably the best way to take in the landscapes of this beautiful country. Floating high above the ground, you have a spectacular, uninterrupted view of the gorgeous countryside below. Described as a somewhat magical experience, hot air ballooning is one of the oldest forms of flight known to man. Nowadays tailored to meet the needs of the public, hot air ballooning has become a highly sought after activity.

Did you know? Whilst the cost of hot air ballooning in South Africa is somewhat high, the experience is one that you won’t achieve anywhere else.

In South Africa, hot air balloons were originally used by the military for reconnaissance purposes. During the Boer War, hydrogen gas balloons were used as observation points for the army for locating enemy camps and monitoring their enemy movements. In 1969, the first hot air balloon arrived in South Africa and in 1972 the Aero Club of South Africa founded a Balloon Section. Four years later, 16 pilots took part in the first International Balloon Race from Johannesburg to Durban. These events led to hot air ballooning in South Africa having a firm footing in the countries list of activities.

A hot air balloon trip will usually begin just before sunrise. You’ll gently lift off the ground to a height of approximately 10-20m and leisurly float along with the wind. At this height you’re able to have a glorious view of the sunrise as well as keep on the lookout for animals on the ground below. The panoramic views that you are privy to from this height leave many speechless as they witness the sunrise and the spreading light extending to the opposite horizon. It’s a magnificent experience and will leave you with a warm glow for weeks after.

Did you know? Ballooning is incredibly tranquil and is thus ideal for people of all ages - you don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie.

There are few physical requirements for hot air ballooning, besides being able to stand or lean for about an hour and being able to climb in and out of the basket.

Hot air ballooning in Mpumalanga and surrounds is an all-year-round activity because of the generally good weather conditions throughout the year. However in KwaZulu Natal, hot air balloon operators are forced to close between June and October because of high winds and in Cape Town due to the rainy season which starts in May.

You can expect to spend about 4 or 5 hours out with your organizers from the time of arrival. The actual hot air balloon flight will last approximately an hour and most hot air ballooning companies will close off your ballooning experience with a champagne breakfast once you’re back on terra firma. Due to the popularity of hot air ballooning, its vital that you book at least 2 weeks before you wish to do it. Because of ballooning’s reliance on the weather, most bookings are provisional until a few days before the event to ensure that the weather is ideal for your journey.

So if taking in stunning scenery in a perfectly tranquil setting is your idea of spending an afternoon, then make a plan to enjoy all the wonders that hot air ballooning in South Africa has to offer.

The most popular hot air balloon trips are in the Magaliesberg (near Johannesburg), Sabie and Hazyview in Mpumalanga, in Oudtshoorn (in the Karoo), in the Drakensberg and Natal Midlands (KwaZulu Natal) and during the summer months, (September to March) in the Cape Winelands.

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