From limestone cliffs to castles nestled in valleys – here are 7 incredible places to get the best birdseye view of some of the most picturesque places around the world – all while on a hot air balloon.
1. Cappadocia, Turkey
You’ll think you’re on the moon. The birds have the best view over the otherworldly terrain of Cappadocia, located in the central Anatolian region of Turkey. Complete with limestone chimneys, subterranean churches, and chiseled-out dwellings – you’ll sink in the views of striped rock formations in shades of red, orange, green, and black. Catch the sunset while floating in the sky with loved ones. Avoid the summer heat + crowds, and visit in April-May or September-October.
2. Loire Valley, France
photo: holiday lettings.co.uk
Located about 200 miles southwest of Paris, the Loire Valley is a 170-mile stretch of over 800 castles and manor houses. Miles of vineyards, stone villages, sunflower fields, and meandering rivers and streams make this place look like it’s from straight out of a fairytale. Life off between April and October when spring begins to green things up, the castles are open for visits, and there’s less chill in the air.
3. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
African safari meets hot air balloon adventure in Serengeti National Park, which also happens to be home to the largest mammal migration in the world. Catch the sunrise over the golden, grassy plains, and watch from above the estimated two million wildebeest, 500,000 gazelle, and 250,000 zebra that roam the region. You may also spy leopards, lions, hippos, giraffes, and other wild animals if you go from March to May, or October to December.
4. Gstaad, Switzerland
We all know that Switzerland is famous for its mountain landscapes. Now imagine seeing them from above. Float above typical Swiss chalets and villages tucked beneath the peaks of Gstaad. During the annual International Balloon Festival in Chateau d’Oex, held the last week of January, dozens of brightly colored balloons from around the world fill the alpine sky. Thanks to a near-perfect microclimate and superb flying conditions, the Gstaad region is not only renowned for its winter sports, but now also a mountain ballooner’s dream.
5. Yarra Valley, Australia
About an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley is perfectly placed in Australia’s pioneering wine region. Soak in incredible views over the Yarra River and the region’s beautiful hills and vines, along with the blue-hued peaks of the Great Divide in the distance. The valley’s nooks and crannies harbor wineries and you may even spot the occasional kangaroo. Visit during the autumn months (March, April, and May in the Southern Hemisphere), when grape leaves are dipped in the color of autumn.
6. Napa Valley, California
The world-famous food and wine destination situated in Northern California is not only a place to eat, drink and frolic. Take a hot air balloon during April and October in Yountville — the launch site and picturesque town — in the Napa Valley. Soar over green rolling hills, small and large family vineyards, and soak in the views to the Sierras and even San Francisco on clearer days.
7. Bagan, Myanmar
The once closed-off, still mysterious country of Myanmar (previously Burma) recently opened up their doors to tourism only a few years ago. And now is the best time to go to this Southeast Asian wonderland. Take a hot air balloon at sunset – when the sun’s golden rays light up the white surfaces of more than 4,000 pagodas and temples in what was the capital of the first Myanmar Empire.