Europe’s largest annual balloon fiesta returns to Bristol from Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 August 2023. This breathtaking free-to-attend event in the grounds of Ashton Court will see more than a hundred hot air balloons of all shapes, sizes and colours take to the skies at dusk and dawn. To celebrate, we have asked our team to nominate their favourite hot air balloon experiences from around the world, together with their pick of accommodation in each location.
Popularly known as the Pink City, Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur is home to spectacular sandstone palaces, forts and temples, all surrounded by lakes and ponds. Where better to appreciate the majesty of this incomparable destination than from the air? Rides usually take place very early in the morning or in the evening when the winds are favourable. Most trips begin by flying over rural villages before reaching such impressive edifices as the 16th century Amer Fort, the second most visited site in India after the Taj Mahal. Where to stay: The Oberoi Rajvilas
The Serengeti, Tanzania
A World Heritage Site, the Serengeti National Park literally teems with wildlife; lions, elephants, giraffes and buffalo are just some of the magnificent creatures that inhabit an area close to 15,000 square kilometres in size. Whilst a safari is the most popular way to explore these endless plains, a hot air balloon ride at sunrise gives these vistas a whole new perspective, as well as an opportunity to see areas ground vehicles can’t access. This is also the perfect mode of transport to witness the legendary Great Migration, as two million animals (wildebeest, zebra and gazelle) migrate across the ecosystems of the Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara. Where to stay: Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge
It’s not difficult to see why Cappadocia in central Turkey is one of the world’s most famous destinations for ballooning, with around 200 launching at sunrise during peak season. It really is an incomparable way to view the surreal, otherworldly ‘fairy chimneys’ – a set of unique limestone formations shaped by erosion and volcanic activity – along with valleys, orchards and vineyards. Where to stay: Argos in Cappadocia
Dubai’s desert, UAE
Swap the glitz and glamour of Dubai for a magic carpet ride over the barren golden wastelands of the desert. Soaring at an altitude of 4,000-feet, you can enjoy the sight of Arabian wandering camels, oryx and gazelles as they make their way across the sand. As the rising sun illuminates the dunes and the emerald green oases, all against the backdrop of the majestic Hajjar Mountains, so the Burj Khalifa seems a million miles away! Where to stay: Atlantis The Royal Dubai
The ancient city of Luxor is known as the world’s greatest open-air museum, and a hot air balloon ride is an unforgettable way to observe and learn about some of its incredible archaeological sites. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see the temples of Luxor, Karnak and Hatshepsut, the Valley of the Kings and Queens and the awe-inspiring Colossi of Memnon, all the while marvelling at a contrasting landscape of arid deserts and lush greenery. Where to stay: Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor