Hot Air Balloon Rides in Cairns
Return transfer back to your Cairns accommodation all before 11:00 AM! The day begins with an early pickup from your accommodation at approximately 4:15 AM.
The friendly driver will pop on a video for the ride about hot air ballooning history and safe practices. This 10-minute video is informative and creates excitement for what you are about to experience. Time to take a rest now, as the bus has to make its ascent up to Mareeba.
Once in Mareeba, you will hear the driver and hot air balloon guide speaking over their 2 ways. This is because everyday is different with hot air ballooning and the place that the balloon will take off from is unknown until 10 minutes before it takes off. The departure point is dependant on the winds speed, direction & overall weather. While they are deciding, you will have a 10-minute rest stop in Mareeba. Be sure to use the facilities, as there will not be any on the hot air balloon.
After the 10 minute break, the drivers will do a head count on the bus and head towards the decided departure point. Once there, group 1 will be loaded into the hot air balloon basket. Group 1 gets the pleasure of seeing the sunrise while the balloon lifts off the ground. As the balloon takes off, a small helium balloon is also unleashed. This is done in order to see the approximate direction in which the hot air balloon will go. Now it’s time for the bus and group 2 to go “balloon chasing”. It is unknown at all times where the balloon will land, so the balloon driver and the bus guide keep in constant contact over their 2 ways.
After 30 minutes in the air, the balloon finally makes the descent to the ground and it was our turn. The friendly balloon staff carefully loaded the basket only allowing one at a time in on each side in order to make certain that the basket had equal weight on each side. The basket has 4 sections with 6 people in each, which also allows for lots of space for everyone.
In seconds, our balloon driver Sam had us off of the ground and in moments had us overlooking the beautiful tablelands of Mareeba. I was so surprised at how incredibly smooth the ride was. This allowed everyone to feel very safe. As we soared through the sky at dawn the horizon showed a mix of clouds, which made for an amazing once in a lifetime photo.
After 25 minutes of soaring through the skies, we began to make our descent. As we flew over the forests, we saw many wild horses and kangaroos. Our first spot that we were to land was right on a farm house, so back up we went to a new landing spot as Sam, the balloon driver felt that the residents of the house might not be so happy with us all landing on their front porch. Minutes later, Sam announced for us to get in our landing positions, which means, knees bent, holding onto the rope handles in front or us and with our backs against the soft padding. As we successfully landed in an open field we gave Sam a hand for his hard work. But what were we to do with the now landed balloon that lay there in the field?
The beauty of being group 2 meant that you got the opportunity to pack up the hot air balloon as a group. This meant flattening the air out of it, wrapping it up and then managing to put it in a 2x2 meter bag… How was this possible we all thought? After a 15-minute wrap up of the balloon it was a success and we managed to fit it into the bag. The staff loaded the basket onto a trailer and we all jumped on the trailer to get a ride out of the field and to the bus, which was awaiting us at the road close by.
The bus ride back to Cairns was filled with laughter and excitement with everyone’s thoughts and opinions about the incredible experience we all had.
Whilst on the hot air balloon ride there are pictures taken that you can purchase later on if you wish. It’s not everyday that you go up in a hot air balloon so make sure that you purchase at least one of your pictures. Furthermore, a souvenir flight certificate is given to every individual who went up in the balloon for congratulations.
The whole bus was in such high spirits after the experience. All of us agreed, “We’ve always wanted to fly in a hot air balloon… And we did it!!!
By: Blythe Rallo
The Tour Specialists