Hot air Balloons ride in Australia: how long it lasts and what to expect.

Planning a holiday means choosing some activities over others because there are only so many days in your holidays. If you have decided to include a hot air balloon ride, this day is bound to be memorable. You have made an excellent choice, Australia offers some of the world’s best hot air ballooning spots with unrivalled views and experienced crew. Now it is crucial to plan it right and fit it smoothly into your itinerary.

Plan.

If this is your first time on a hot air balloon – you might be wondering how long it lasts and what to expect. Expect a busy and eventful day! Your hot air balloon ride will be the main event of the day and will keep you entertained for four or five hours. The ride itself is around an hour long and is only a part of the experience. It usually comes in a package with an elegant breakfast.

As a rule, a ride on a hot air balloon is the main priority of your day. Usually, you set off before dawn, as you want to catch the sunrise. You start early, and you will be in the caring hands of your operating company for several hours. Jim from joinery Newcastle guided my wife and me through this whole process. He went on a Hot Air Balloon flight the other day, with a Hunter Valley local company.

Expect.

Hot air balloons take off in the picturesque countryside, allowing some time to get to the starting point. Check carefully when and where you get picked up to avoid disappointment. You then will be driven to your takeoff spot. 

Australia is famous for its delightful wilderness and vastness. And you are about to get a bird’s eye view of its untamed nature. Hot air ballooning in Alice Springs over the Australian Outback’s rugged scenery is an experience to remember. If you choose to go ballooning in the Tropical North, you get the majestic Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforest. A ride over the Gold Coast will be a gem, with its sparkling coastline and spectacular hinterland. Or fly above Melbourne or Canberra, if you are so inclined, for the breathtaking sight of iconic buildings and picturesque Port Phillip Bay. 

Participate!

Wherever you choose to go for your hot air balloon ride, you are in for an extraordinary experience. When you arrive at your starting point, you can witness the final preparation: the crew will be inflating the balloons and checking all the equipment. 

The ride itself is smooth and enjoyable. The height you rise upon depends, among other things, on air temperature. The pilot and the crew have to follow specific procedures and guidelines, and correct timing is everything. The ride is usually between 45 and 60 minutes long. You get a stunning view from the basket, and depending on the weather, the balloon may travel up to 4-7 kilometres. 

It is essential to follow the pilot’s instructions at all times, especially during ascending and descending. When the ride ends – the experience continues. 

After you land, you get to help the crew to fold the deflated balloons. This is an integral part of the experience, and passengers have a lot of fun doing something unusual. This is not hard so that everyone can participate. 

The elegant part of the adventure begins when you are driven to a local country club or a hotel for your breakfast. It will be more than welcome after such an active start of the day! Ask your operating company where the breakfast is planned. Usually, they select well-reputed establishments within a reasonably short drive from the landing spot. 

You will have plenty of time to enjoy your luxurious breakfast and mingle with your fellow travellers. Enjoy the company of people brought together on an adventure! 

The experience continues…

After breakfast, your operating company will organize the return of all passengers. You can expect to be back around noon, as a rule. But please allow enough time for all the travelling on route. 

The socializing aspect is an essential part of the experience, so savour it to the last drop. And remember the final step in making it a remarkable experience: take your best memories home and share them with your friends. Storytelling is a big part of travelling, after all.

What kind of day would be best for your hot air balloon ride?

A hot air balloon can get you from one place to another, but this is not the point. Flying a hot air balloon is all about an extraordinary experience. Unlike an aeroplane, that takes you to your holiday destination, and a hot air balloon is very weather-sensitive. Ideal weather conditions are clear skies and cool temperatures with no probability of fog or rain.

Safety comes first.

Hot air ballooning is great only under excellent weather conditions. Pilots will not fly if they are not convinced the conditions are suitable and safe. The good news is that in Australia the meteorological conditions are excellent all year round. The months from January to March tend to be the busiest, but the weather is suitable for ballooning all year, and there is no offseason. 

Ideal weather.

What you want on your ballooning days is clear blue skies. There is no wind up in the air. You will be affected by the morning chill and dew down on the ground, but you can expect to be somewhat warm when you are in the air. So choose your clothes accordingly.

What you do not want on this day is fog or rain. Moisture can be dangerous as the pilots cannot see obstacles, such as trees or power-lines. So your pilot will not fly if there is a probability of fog when you land. And the rain will make your experience dreary. 

Ideal time.

Most hot air balloon rides start at dawn, but catching the sunrise is not the main reason to set off so early. Hot air balloons take off at sunset or sunrise because the air temperature and the wind are usually the most favourable at these times of the day. Outside of sunset and light, the winds are not as calm, and the flight is more difficult to control. 

 Some locations only do sunrise flights due to specific weather conditions there. The ideal temperatures are in the first hours of daylight. Later during the day and in the evenings, the air temperatures get very high, and the wind conditions are not stable.  

The wind tends to be calmer at sunset in some places and dawn in others. Experienced pilots have no preference usually, and are guided by the weather forecast and their knowledge. 

Very often, your hot air balloon ride comes with breakfast or champagne, and if you do not enjoy an early morning drink – then a sunset ride is your best choice. However, if you need to drive to the launch site – you avoid the traffic if you set off before dawn. 

A bad weather day.

When you choose a day for your exceptional experience, it may be challenging to plan for the weather. Your operating company will consult the official meteorological services and aviation forecasts from Air services Australia. 

When your trip is cancelled due to adverse weather conditions, you will be notified the day before. The operating company will offer to reschedule or to make a refund. 

You want to be on your hot air balloon ride on that particular day when everything is perfect. So let professionals take care of you and choose the ideal weather.

The 10 Things to Bring On Your Unforgettable Hot Air Balloon Ride

You have decided to indulge yourself with a hot air balloon ride. Congratulations! You are in for a treat. 

A hot air balloon ride is undoubtedly an unrivalled escapist adventure and is surely a lifetime luxury experience. It is romantic and inspiring, out-of-the-ordinary refreshing. But before you set off – check you have done your part to make this adventure worth your time and money. 

You have come far for this ride, and your expectations are very high. Therefore, you want to read this list of ideas to consider and things to bring with you on your hot air balloon ride.

Comfort

The sunrise viewed from the balloon is incomparable. Remember, though: this means that you set off on the trip long before sunrise. So, bring several layers of comfortable clothes. In the small hours of the morning, you appreciate something cozy, but you will be quite warm once you are in the basket and close to the gas burner. And you need to get in and out of the basket, don’t you? So please wear your flat shoes. No open toes allowed, of course. 

Appetite

Remember, any meals included in your package come after the ride. So, make sure you are comfortable and bring some munchies or drinks if you feel you need them before you get in the basket. Bring some water for the experience, too. You will appreciate it when it gets warmer. 

A spare pair of eyes

You are going to see things from a different perspective. So, to help you do just that, bring a set of binoculars. You will be high in the sky, after all, and you may want to have a closer look at the wildlife below. 

Something to remember

As a rule, you will be offered photos by your hot air balloon company. But they will never be as good as your own, will they? Bring your camera to take pictures of the views of your choice. 

People skills

Travelling is about meeting and mingling with fellow travellers, and on this ride, you will have company as well. Be sure to bring your conversation skills: making new acquaintances may be the highlight of the trip.

Silence

High up in the sky you escape from the usual city noises, but you do get the gas burners, which tend to make a loud noise as you set off. If you feel you may be uncomfortable with this – bring earplugs, they are small and maybe welcome. 

Courage

The rides and landings are smooth and comfortable, and motion sickness is not usually involved. But if you are not good with heights – be brave and get a grip. It will soon be over.

Common sense

There is no wind up in the sky (you are riding the wind, remember?), but you are much closer to the sun than usual. So, bring sunscreen and a hat. 

Neat hairstyle

We all understand that the best pictures always involve you and your gorgeous hair loose. But bring a hairband or a scarf for when you are not taking photos. 

A constructive attitude

Most importantly, bring your patience and good humour. If you are going on a balloon ride to see the sunrise – you are in for an early start of the day. And you can’t pre-book the perfect weather either. You are paying quite a hefty price for a truly captivating experience. So make it the highlight of your day and take your time to enjoy every bit of it, from the balloon set up and to the ride home. 

A hot air balloon ride is very much about the journey, not the destination. It is about being above the earth and taking -literally – a different view. Hopefully, these tips will help you discover something new and make the most of your ride.