Probably my best experience ever in Australia was a hot-air balloon ride at dawn over the outback!
Admittedly, we did have to get up VERY early (something ridiculous, like 3.30am!), but it was completely worth the bleary eyes once we took off…
You can hot-air balloon over many places in Australia, but we decided to take to the skies when we were staying in Alice Springs, and took a trip with Outback Ballooning, who pick you up an hour before dawn and drive you off in the dark to the middle of nowhere (literally!). They will check a few locations (by sending up a little balloon!) to see where it’s best to take off from, and when they find the right place it’s time to unpack.
|Here we are preparing for take off!|
Everything is brought with you, and you get to see the balloon being unfolded and set up with the basket on the ground. Seeing the flame illuminating the balloon when everywhere is still pretty dark is exciting. Then it’s time to get in the basket.
These balloons carry quite a few people, so you stand in sections in the basket for your trip. Now, one thing I will say is definitely wear a hat — this is not so much for the sun (although you will need it for that), but more to stop the top of your head getting rather hot! Those burners are pretty warm!!
|We didn’t feel like we were going this fast|
We took off just as the sun was rising over the MacDonnell Ranges, and you could literally see for miles and miles. It was horizon on all sides and not much to see apart from the spinifex (grass) and a few bushes and trees. Then the Kangaroos woke up and started to bounce around below us.
We glided — it’s such a smooth ride — you don’t feel like you are flying — more like floating — over trees and the ground, and at one point we actually ‘over took’ (as in: went OVER) another hot-air balloon! That was pretty impressive.
The whole experience was amazing and so peaceful (when the burners went blasting!). And the view was just so vast and expansive it gave such a sense of scale to the outback.
|The sun breaks over the outback horizon — truly beautiful|
We watched the support truck bumping its way to try and follow our route — to make sure that breakfast was there for when we landed. Now, I was expecting a few pastries or something for breakfast, but this was more like lunch! Beautiful home made quiches, and freshly cooked chicken (even though it was only just 7am at this point, we had been up for around 4 hours so was almost lunch time!). Not to mention the delicious chocolate cake too. All washed down with lots (and lots) of bubbly serviced with guava and apple juice with strawberries in it. Very drinkable… think I might have been a little bit (alright, a lot!) drunk on the bus back to the hotel
If you are staying in Alice Springs on your trip (and you don’t mind an early start), I cannot recommend this balloon flight enough to really experience the size and space (and quiet) of the outback. And if the outback is not on your itinerary, then don’t forget to check here to see where you can take your Australian hot-air balloon flight!