A while ago me and The Mister did a hot air ballooning flight near Paarl/Wellington. And it was truly an amazing experience!
Between November – April, every day at sunrise (depending on weather) you can enjoy your romantic and special hot air balloon ride, hosted by Carmen & Udo. They have over 26 years of experience and are licensed and checked by the South African Civil Aviation Authority. So don’t worry; you are in safe hands, eh.. basket.
So how does it works? Well, after you booked a date for your Hot Air Balloon Experience, very early in the morning – when it’s still dark – you’ll get a (wake-up) call from Winelands Hot Air Ballooning to tell you if the weather conditions are good enough to go. It is advisable to allow yourself as many days as possible to arrange the hot air ballooning. It does often happen (due to sudden changing wind- or weather condition which are common in the Cape) that the flight for the day is cancelled. If there is a ‘Yes we go!’ you make your way to the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl (about 45 minutes drive from Cape Town) and from there you’ll leave with the group towards the ’take-off’ site, which is near Wellington. From there the balloon and basket must be prepared first (you can assist if you like – I loved it) and then you climb in the basket and off you go!
And then you feel free like a bird. Every now and then there is (of course) the sound of the burner, blowing new hot air in the balloon to make sure it keeps floating in the sky. But in between these short interruptions, it is so quiet and peaceful; truly special and you feel so happy and relaxed. Even (most of the) people who are afraid of heights will enjoy it!
On a bright day you will be able to see Table Mountain, the silhouette of Hottentot Holland’s Mountain Range, Paarl Rock, vineyards, cattle, orchards and lots and lots of wheat fields.
Don’t forget to bring: binoculars, a photo (or video) camera, warm clothes for chilly mornings, comfortable shoes (and not your newest pair of stylish white sneakers and a happy face!
Obvious it is quite impossible to photograph the balloon itself from a distance while you’re in it, so most of the time Udo or Carmen will make sure there is at least one photo from that day of the balloon in the sky (see image above – photo credits for Carmen from Winelands Hot Air Ballooning), and they will send it to you if you’d like.
The worst part of the ballooning is when it’s over again (ride takes about one hour) and you realise how special it was and that you want to do it again! But then there is this little comfort waiting for you: a breakfast at the Grande Roche, the iconic five star hotel in Paarl. Not too bad!
Winelands Ballooning – Carmen & Udo
November to April
Tel +27 (0)21 8633 192
It’s for everyone over 1,20 meter and able to climb into the basket
Maximum of 5-6 passengers at a time
Costs are about ZAR 3900 per person (Yes, it is expensive. But truly a once in a lifetime experience for a special occasion)