So, this just happened. I’ve been waiting for an inspiring moment to get me out of my rut and I think this might have just done exactly that. I got the chance to ride a hot air balloon!! This has been something that has been on my bucket list and I’m so grateful that I get to tick it off now. The ride truly allowed us to view an awe-inspiring Abyssinian sunrise.
Read on to find out more about my recap of this magical balloon ride, and view the photos from the ride as well. I’ll be putting out a video of the ride soon over on my YouTube channel. So be sure to subscribe and stay tuned for that.
Given that the aim of the ride was to see the sunrise, it took place during the crack of dawn. So along with the other fliers, we were headed to the starting point at around 5:20 am. The starting location was around a 25 minutes’ drive from the main city, during which we got to observe the serenity of the night as we drove off. All of us were still pretty drowsy, but it wore off as soon as we got to the location. We were welcomed with coffee and tea to help get us out of our drowsy states too, so that definitely helped.
I don’t have a phobia of flights per se, but thanks to media coverage regarding flight accidents, of course, some part of me was terrified. I was actually sort of glad to hear the other fliers were a little terrified too. But the pilot reassured us that everything would go well, and reinstated the thrill of wanting to fly. Something that really surprised me though was the fact that despite being up high on a very high altitude, it does not affect your perception of height in any way. It is almost as if you’re standing on the ground. So for anyone with a phobia of heights, it is not as bad as you imagine it to be.
Their team’s hospitality was definitely formidable. The pilot made sure each one of us felt at ease. Before starting the ride, he explained the procedures we had to follow to get on and off the basket and assigned our spots. And thanks to his clarity the transitions went smoothly. Being a human that lacks upper body strength, I did struggle to get inside and outside of the basket, but I managed. It was quite a scene to watch, but hey totally worth it.
I was lucky enough to be placed alongside the pilot. I got to observe his every move while also observing the beauty of the scenery of my surroundings. I was in awe of how calm he was. Not only was he multitasking with operating the hot air balloon, but also engaging in conversations with all of us.
Following our landing, there was a champagne ceremony. We all toasted our successful ride that ended safely. The pilot enlightened us about how the champagne drinking tradition came about. The first successful flight dates back to 1783, demonstrated by the Montgolfier brothers. The first passengers were actually a sheep, duck, and chicken. Following the fact that the animals survived the ride- despite crashing from the balloon cooling down after rising- King Louis XVI saw fit that humans could do this too. So King Louis XVI selected two noble people: a count and a marquis, once again they too survived the ride which caused for a celebration involving champagne toasts every time a ride ends successfully. So till this day, we drink champagne to celebrate these pioneers of all aviation. It was hot air balloons that survived rising into the air. I had no idea, so it was very interesting to hear about this.
And to add a little something to this explanation the pilot introduced another ‘tradition’ which acted as a supplement to the champagne drinking tradition. All the newbie flyers (which was almost all of us) also became ‘noble’ and got champagne poured over our heads congratulating us and “baptizing us as counts and countesses.” All of us found this pretty amusing and it was such a unique way to end the ceremony.
And that’s a wrap on my recap of my first hot air balloon ride. A big thank you to Sunchips for making this all possible and a big thank you to Abyssinia Ballooning for a memorable ride. Be sure to check out their site if you are in Ethiopia, and want to book your flight, and experience it for yourself.
Have you ever been on a hot air balloon ride? Is it something that is also on your bucket list? Let me know your thoughts and comments down below.
Stay tuned for more Mikaesque posts.