Imagine being a bird, flying over heights and gazing down at the wonderful landscape below you. Everything majestic seems a little tiny and yet the whole view in its full grandeur so majestic. That is what Hot Air Ballooning in Sri-Lanka is offering you. A view of the country and the versatility it offers from a bird’s vantage point.
Unlike air travel this one covers shorter distance but you gives you the sensation of floating in the air and giving you the best early morning views possible which you can enjoy in complete peace and serendipity(well maybe except the noise of the jet engine). Hot air balloons are a recent thing started by the Sri-Lankan government and they have started a week long hot air balloon festival held around every March to attract people from all over the world and promote their latest project.
Quick basics about this service here –the season for the flight is from November to April as the winds are on the lower side. You need to book in advance if possible at least a month before. The fee is around $210 for adults and $170 for kids. The flight can carry a min of 2 people and a max group of 14 people. Children below the age of 7 are not allowed to board although you can talk to the authorities and work things out. Expecting mothers are also not advised to take this ride.
The whole trip will take 3.5-4 hours (from picking you up till the time you are dropped back to your hotel) so make sure to keep aside the time for this. Also dress casually as the weather is warmer. It is advised to wear close toe shoes for protection. Carry hats and use a sunscreen.
The flights generally take place early morning. A confirmation call is made a day before and a wake- up call in the morning confirms the flight. In case of cancellation due to weather or any matter the guests are informed and the whole payment amounts are refunded. There is no planned flight schedule as the winds may turn into any direction but a crew car follows the balloon through the land below. The pickup places are Habarana, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandalama. The flight takes place from Kandalama.
- A breakdown of the activities is:-
Pickup from the resorts and drive to the flight site
- Reaching the flight site and receiving instructions from the pilot, waiting for the balloon to be inflated. You also get to help the crew prepare for the take-off. It’s a different and wonderful experience in itself
- The flight is approximately an hour long. The rush of taking off is exhilarating. YYou can tour the cultural triangle- in Kandalama, the ancient rock temple in Dambulla and the Rock Fortress in Sigriya. You might spot some elephants and wild buffalos as you glide away in the air. The landscape at sunrise is picturesque and the open fresh air just puts you in a happy, positive mood
- Watch the pilot display his finer techniques of landing and being greeted by villagers with smiling faces. This is the time you make friends with absolute strangers and such memories last a lifetime
- Next the crew lays down a beautiful breakfast of champagne, juices and fresh tropical fruits
- After this you get a flight certificate and the van/car whisks you away to your resort where you can enjoy a private breakfast
It’s a beautiful once in a lifetime experience and something you should definitely try!