Hot Air Balloon Experience
Last weekend, I took my first hot air balloon ride over the vineyards and citrus groves of Temecula. Temecula is a small town in Southern California, close to San Diego. In the area, it is known for the wineries . This wasn’t the place where I imagined I would take my first balloon ride but it was darn good and exciting. The views of the wine country, the lakes and mountains were spectacular.
We did not know what to expect and had initial jitters but after settling down, we really enjoyed the sunrise from up above and gorgeous views of the golden light hitting the valley and vineyards.
I wanted to write about the logistics involved and what to expect from a hot air balloon ride. This is based on my experience and the information I had gathered from the web. At the risk of sounding like an FAQ section of a hot air balloon company, here is all you need to know about hot air balloon ride!
What times do they operate?
The balloons operate early in the morning or late in the evening during sunrise and sunset.
Why do they fly only during sunrise or sunset?
The balloons fly only in stable air. Morning and evening is the best time because the heating from the sun is not hot enough and provides stable air. During the day, sun heats up the earth and creates thermals causing unstable air.
Don’t ask me why the balloon has Gin written on it!! 😀
Is it scary?
NOT at all! And this coming from a person who has a fear of heights. It is very stable and the take off is so gentle that you won’t feel it at all.
What to consider?
If you going for a sunrise ride, you will have to wake up early enough to reach the rendezvous point on time.
How long is the ride?
This might vary from region to region and company to company. The ride itself is about 45min – 1 hour. But the set up to inflate and deflate the balloon took another 2 hours total.
Who can ride? Is there an age limit?
There is a certain height and age limit. The basket is usually tall and kids not not meeting certain height requirement would not be able to see anything.
How high does it go?
2000 – 3000ft from what we’ve been told. And the views from there were gorgeous.
What to wear?
Comfortable and warm clothing for morning. You will have to climb into and out of the basket so the clothes have to be comfortable. Once you are in it, it can get hot. Add layered clothing.
How many people can go on one?
Depending on the size of the basket, 4-12 people. Ours was big enough for 8.
Does it take off and land at same point?
No. This is tricky because the take off and landing locations vary based on wind speed, direction etc. Because of that, they inflate the balloon only after choosing the take off location. Hence the hour wait to inflate and set everything up.
What time of the year is best?
When you buy a ticket, there is no guarantee that you will get to ride. Cancellations happen all the time based on the weather and also how hot it is. In winter, the rides could run all day long if the sun is not too hot.
For many people, hot air balloon ride is a once in a lifetime experience. Choose a special place and if you are scared about the ride, don’t be! You won’t feel a thing!
I am Aswani Kurra. I am an engineer, dreamer and part-time wanderlust, writer and wine lover. I always had an urge to write, create and travel. So I created this space to satisfy my creative itch and combine all my skills to help you plan your Charming Escape.