After some time spent in Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands in Tropical North Queensland visiting the rainforest, lakes and waterfalls while enjoying the warm weather, the only thing we were missing was flying over them in order to appreciate the views from above, and what better than riding a hot air balloon?
Hot Air Balloon Cairns helped us achieving this dream of ours and we couldn’t have asked for more in terms of service and professionalism.
This established company has been operating in Queensland for over 22 years now, with bases in Cairns, Port Douglas, Brisbane and Gold Coast. With Australia’s largest fleet of balloons and options between 30 minutes and 60 minutes long flights, they have tours to fulfill any needs.
PICK UP AND DROP OFF SERVICE
We were picked up at 4 am at Mareeba Heritage Centre, since we drove there with our van. No matter where you are staying in or around Cairns, a bus will pick you up early in the morning to get you at the take off site in time to enjoy your ride, and drop you back off early enough to make the most of the rest of your day. Just be sure to set up your alarm a few hours before sunrise!
BALLOON INFLATING AND SET UP
As an interesting insight on this timeless way of flying, you will be able to witness the process of inflation and positioning of the balloons before take off, when the entire crew takes care of the technical and safety aspects of preparation. As a little bonus, while we were waiting for the staff to analyse the daily winds, we had the chance to enjoy the sky full of stars.
SMOOTH FLIGHT AND SPECTACULAR VIEWS
If you suffer from vertigo don’t worry, the team at Hot Air Balloon Cairns is so good at their job that they will keep you busy with jokes and notions, and you won’t even have the time to think about anything else. As soon as everybody is on board, the balloon takes flight smoothly, with the occasional typical sound of the burning fire alternating to longer peaceful silences. The feeling of absolute calm admiring the landscapes from above in total silence is worth alone the experience!
BALLOON&BASKET SIZE AND CAPACITY
After climbing into the huge basket, we had time to familiarize with it before taking off: our balloon carried 8 people and weighed 260kg, there are smaller ones for 3-4 people and bigger ones for 16 people weighing over 450kg! We especially loved that the basket was divided into 4 corners, so that we had our private space with unobstructed view at all times.
TECHNICAL COMMENTARY AND SIGHTS
Besides the stunning geography of the Tablelands, we were lucky to spot some wallabies too. The skilled pilot not only commands the balloon, using winds at his necessity to gain and drop altitude, but in the meanwhile delivers a useful commentary too, describing the sights and history of the area.
AN UNFORGETTABLE SUNRISE
It is really easy to get accustomed to the relaxing pace of the balloon ride, all you have to do is lean back and enjoy the beautiful flight as the sun rises over the horizon. In 60 minutes there’s plenty of time to take all the pictures and videos you want to, plus there’s a camera attached to every balloon and the pilot will take a few great group selfies which the guys at Hot Air Balloon Cairns will upload online on their website and make available for you to get.
Last but not least, you will be shown the correct position to hold when touching ground. We landed gently in a grassy field not too far from our pick up location, and our bus was already there to bring everyone back to their drop offs. Being the Tablelands a vast area with several farms and fields, the pilots are free to choose a different landing area every time, depending on where the winds have taken the balloon approximately.
We had a great experience with Hot Air Balloon Cairns, not only for the exciting flight but also thanks to the friendly and professional crew that made everything safe, easy and absolutely enjoyable. Make sure you include a scenic balloon ride during your next visit to Queensland, in order to enjoy this unique flying experience in Australia!
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