Second day at Byron Bay – Hot Air Ballooning with a bunch of Sky Divers

 So far you have enjoyed the last two articles about my adventurous weekend in Byron Bay, Australia. Now I would love to share my experience of day 2 which was also full of excitement and joy. In case you missed my other two posts then here is the link to the same for you my friend.

Hot Air Ballooning with 7 Sky Divers

Hot Air Ballooning with 7 Sky Divers

Alarm went off around 4:30 AM and first time in weeks I was not frustrated as I had enough sleep this time so I quickly jumped out of the bed with excitement. Today was the day I was going to experience Hot Air Ballooning. So many times I dreamt of doing it but every time I felt I should wait for some one special to do it with. But finally I decided to do it on my own after one of my friend suggested that it is an experience that you get to feel individually anyways so why wait for some one when you can do it by yourself. So here I was waiting at the gate of the hostel to get picked up around 5:15 AM. A car pulled up next to me and I confirmed that it was from the Ballooning company. After a warm welcome message from the guy driving the car, I fastened my seat belt and we headed to the location for base(the office for ballooning ). It was still dark when we arrived at the base. I could see many people getting ready in their gears for sky diving. I felt as if I was the only one in the balloon staying back and almost everyone else was going to jump. I wished I could jump with them for a moment and this thought was interrupted by one of the sky divers. She introduced herself and a formal round of introduction kick started for few minutes. These were professionals with more than few hundred and even few thousand jumps. My goodness, I almost freeze to digest this information now. I was excited and felt a bit naive to talk to these people now as whatever jargons they were using I couldn’t understand half of them. I met Thomas, the chief pilot of Byron Bay Ballooning (http://www.byronbayballooning.com.au) and signed some forms as part of the formal process. Thomas was quiet reassuring as I was a bit nervous as well excited, this being my first balloon flight.

Thomas after successful landing

Thomas after successful landing

Soon we started for Casino, place from where the balloon was supposed to fly. I was cold but super excited. I chose to sit with other sky divers in the first van to listen to some insightful information they would like to share during this one hour journey. It was a nice ride till the patrol station where the drivers stopped to fill patrol. I was told a lot of things and these people were very nice to explain me a lot of new concepts that made me look a bit puzzled. I shared rest of the way with other set of people and got to know some more people on my way to Casino. It was an overwhelming morning I must say, so much that I kind of forgot that I was here for ballooning really.

Once we arrived in Casino, the process of unloading the balloon and setting it up started. It was such a huge balloon, I guess all of them are but I was witnessing it for the first time. It was like preparing for a festival, with so many people helping in the process and some of us trying to shoot the process or take pictures of the location. As the balloon rose, it was such a mesmerising view with all the colours rising in the sky with the bright light of  the sun. Then we climbed into the balloon and Thomas started to fill the balloon with hot air and the balloon took off. It was so smooth that we didn’t feel anything but only the view started changing as we gained height. Just so that you know Thomas has been flying since the age of 22 and has also won many awards.  So if you are in Byron Bay and feel like ballooning then he is your guy. I was trying to absorb this whole experience while also taking a lot of pictures at the same time. The basket is divided in three compartments and the middle one is reserved for the pilot with some gas cylinders. We were almost 12 people, 6 in each baskets on both the sides and out of which 7 were sky divers. Soon we rose to the height of 6000 feet and it was an amazing view. It felt so light and beautiful to see the whole area at this hour of the morning. It was around 8:45 AM. The divers were all ready to jump and soon we hit the height of 9000 feet from where they were supposed to jump. It was more scary to look at them standing on the edges of the basket. And I guess I was more excited and worried than them. Some of them were doing it for the first time which I thought was very brave and increased my respect for all these divers. Soon before I realised they started jumping from the balloon. It was so fast that I didn’t even get chance to take many pictures of them jumping and soon they disappeared from the sight. We started moving towards the destination, Thomas was co-ordinating with rest of the team to make sure all the divers are safe and have been located after reaching the ground.

Thomas started to prepare us for landing and soon we were descending fast, not that you can feel it other than the height displayed on the system. We landed on a  farm with more than 50  bulls all staring at us in not so welcoming mood. Thomas waited for rest of the team to come to this location and get the permission from the farm owner before getting us all climb out of the balloon. Once the team was here, the bulls started heading towards their vans and soon we were out of this adventurous and risky zone. And next thing I remember, we were all rolling the balloon and packing everything back in the vehicle to head back. I was still floating in the sky in my thoughts though as it is a last longing experience and it takes some time to get back to reality I can say. Thomas stopped in a nice cafe on the way and bought lunch for all of us as part of the package. I chose Spanish Omelette and you know what, it was the best breakfast ever after such a beautiful start of the day. What else can you ask from life I thought with a smile. The day is yet not over my friend and I still have to share my experience of the monthly market, beach and one of the most beautiful town/village in the area before I finish my story. So keep an eye for another post after this 🙂 Till then have a wonderful day my friend.

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Hot Air Ballooning with bunch of Sky Divers and me in the basket

I have more pictures on my Facebook page for this site. Please check more pictures there as due to increasing size restriction I didn’t upload more pictures here.

I will be back with the exciting story of this weekend adventure of mine. As you know it never is simple and this time wasn’t different either. But I would not like to change it for anything really 🙂 So stay tuned and look for my next post to read about how I missed my station and end up in another town and how I started my day with kayaking with dolphins and then flew in a plane. All unplanned but exciting things after which I end up flying in a Hot Air Balloon the next day for a adventurous morning with other 7 Sky Divers who were jumping off the plane.

 

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10 Best Places to Experience the Serene Beauty of the World through Hot Air Ballooning

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Another article published of mine in ‘TheHostelLife’ travel website. Here is the link and also the information for all of you to refer: http://www.thehostellife.com/news/item/480

I wish I could fly! Have you ever felt like this? Then you know what you can and Hot Air Ballooning has made it easier than said in today’s modern world. Its a majestic feeling as the balloon lift in the sky and fills you with the feeling of joy and serenity. And when you encounter the first ray of sun in the sky it makes it worthwhile to get up really early in the morning. Here are the top 10 amazing places in the world for Hot Air Ballooning:

  1. Hot Air Ballooning in North Pole in Arctic with Quark Expeditions (http://www.quarkexpeditions.com/). It is called ‘The Ultimate Arctic Adventure’ which doesn’t really surprise as getting the balloon up in the air at such place definitely shows the adventure involved with it. More than 50 guests celebrated 50 years of the ship with 5 minutes of Hot Air Ballooning experience at the top of the world. It is really once in a life time experience. Next date can be checked at the site and costs somewhere from $24,965 – $37,965.
  2. Great Barrier Reef is one of the best places to see the reefs and beautiful coast line in Australia. Australia gives you a wide variety to experience Hot Air Ballooning but flying above one of the seven natural wonders in the world is an unforgettable experience in itself. http://www.hotair.com.au/cairns/tours/hot-air-balloon-and-great-barrier-reef-cruise-with-great-adventures.html
  3. Hot air Ballooning in Grand Canyon gives you the birds eye view of the remarkable desert landscape and the mountains. It is a feast for one’s eyes when you see this beautiful scenery below from a few flying balloon. http://www.grandcanyonballoonrides.com/
  4. What can be a better option than flying over the breath taking regions of Niagara Falls. It is a tranquil experience for your soul to see the nature on its full swing like this. And ballooning makes it easier to fly across the falls and let you enjoy the amazing scenery below.
    http://www.balloonsoverletchworth.com/
  5. Mt. Everest is one of the unique places to fly over around the world. The first Balloon Flight Over Everest 1991. Not only it was built with special oxygen breathing systems but also had differently designed burners to allow the balloon to fly in extreme conditions at almost 40,000 ft. Andy Elson was the pilot of this first pioneer flight. Leo Dickinson even wrote a book about it – ‘Ballooning Over Everest’. This is not run as a tourist attraction due to its risky operation and extremely high cost but it has been done once and keep an eye open, may be someone starts it in future again. http://www.andyelson.com/Everest.htm
  6. Would you plan to go for a fight over active volcano – Mount Bromo in Java, Indonesia. Yes, I am just joking as it is not safe to fly over this place for sure. But you can definitely boast about flying over Cappadocia, Turkey where the rocks and stone towers were carved into the volcanic lava almost 65 million years ago. One of the best and amazing site to witness in the world if you like the concept of Hot Air Ballooning and the leisure time it gives you to soak into the scenery. Cappadocia, also known as ‘Land of the beautiful horses’ is an hour away from Istanbul. http://www.hotairballooncappadocia.com/
  7. Sunflower fields and vineyards surrounding a beautiful village in southwest of France is a very compelling reason to come to Loire Valley. It has more than 800 castles with a beautiful river crossing the area. One of the famous and scenic places for Hot Air Ballooning in the world, Loire Valley, still maintains the authenticity of the place in the midst of the touristy feel to it. http://www.france-balloons.com/balloon-ride,val-de-loire.php
  8. When talking about ballooning, how can we forget about the International Balloon Festival organized in Chateau d’Oex. This festival is held in the last week of January and gives a perfect view of Alps with the spectacular ski slopes. http://www.festivaldeballons.ch/en/festival_en
  9. Napa Valley in United States still maintains the reputation for being a great place for Hot Air Ballooning. Celebration with champagne after a flight over the beautiful vineyards mixed with the fields of sunflowers is a real treat. http://www.balloonrides.com/
  10. Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya provides a lifetime experience of Hot Air Ballooning. Specially during the migration season (from July to October) when over two million wild animals including zebra, wildebeest, eland and Thomson’s gazelle try to cross Mara River alive as the crocodiles in the river prey on them. This is the only place in the world where you can witness a massive and immense movements of wildlife. http://www.audleytravel.com/destinations/africa/kenya/things-to-do/hot-air-balloon-flight.aspx