After groggily waking up at 5:15 in the morning – before even the birds woke up – I was ready to leave and reach our Hot Air Balloon flight station, some 30 kilometres away from the place where I was staying, at Agonda beach, in South Goa. I’d barely slept the night before because I was so excited. After all, the idea of flying in a basket, led by a 10 meter giant balloon – the first ever method of flight created by man, was quite a celebration.
Flustered and windswept, I reached the location – a long empty ground, almost in the middle of nowhere. I had nearly considered it a bad start of the day, and then my eyes fell on a massive, oval shaped balloon. I’d never seen a Hot Air Balloon from so close, in my life before – and as I remember, it looked beautiful!
Under the safe and knowledgeable direction of Rita, our flying pilot, who has been flying this thing for the past 16 years (yes, you read that correct, 16 years it was) we took to the skies, ooh-ing and ah-ing at the amazing landscapes blow us.
With bug-eyes and my mouth wide open, I forgot to take photos for the first few minutes, just trying to absorb it all in, honoring every moment. Then I quickly remembered I’m a blogger on a mission, and I started to take photos and videos like a fiend.
It had been two weeks, since I was travelling in Goa. I had experienced some amazing nightlife, eaten some great food, had even explored a World War II ship, while scuba diving underwater – but this was something unusual. It was, by far, the most unique and highly unfrequented experience among tourists, visiting Goa.
What makes flying in a Hot Air Balloon flight wonderful, is the uncertainty of the flight. Right from the take off to the landing, everything is ambiguous. As flights are completely dependent upon weather, a decision to delay or even cancel them can come minutes before the actual take-off. You can moreover not guarantee, in which direction the balloon is going to proceed. Sure you have a little control over the elevation and the direction, one strong wind can still take you pretty much anywhere.
We flew for about 40 minutes, passing through traditional Goan houses and thousands upon thousands of palm trees standing perfectly erect. The ariel views of the city, from up over 2000 feet, were surprizingly dramatic.
But our touchdown was gentle — while we had been told earlier that we might need to brace ourselves for a rough landing, it couldn’t have been more gentle as our basket kissed the ground. Safely back, we finished our odyssey with some delicious breakfast and great best Brews.
The Costs And Other Mumbo Jumbos
You can book a tour by visiting Goa Tourism Website, which costs INR 9,900 per person. The flight generally takes place during the time of sunrise – when the weather is nearly perfect and the views are exceptionally great. Duration of the tour is 2 hours, including 12-20 minutes for balloon inflation.
Now if you’re thinking that 9,900 Rupees, per person, is a bit too much, let’s walk through some surprising figures…
Since any hot air balloon service, operating in India, requires to qualify the Indian Aircraft Rules & Civil Aviation Requirements, to get a license – all of its parts need to be imported from abroad. Speaking of the costs, the basket that carries you costs about 11 Lakh Rupees, the burners cost some 9 Lakh Rupees and the Nylon parachute cloth, which makes the balloon, costs around 30 Lakh Rupees. In total, the entire setup goes over 55 Lakh Rupees. (US $80,000). And on top of that you need to pay your regular staff and other hefty repairing bills. Now that is some serious money, right?
But even if it costs a whopping 9,900 per person, the experience of flying in a Hot Air Balloon is out of the world. And I’d totally recommend it — particularly to my newly wed readers (because of its romantic nature!)
So next time you visit Goa, experience something beyond than just sipping beers by your favourite Beach Shack. Experience something unconventional. Something far romantic.
[Speacial thanks to Goa Tourism for sponsoring my tour and making this possible]
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