22 December 2007

up, up, and away!

Urgh... got up before 4 am for a 4:15 pickup for our balloon safari. When the driver didn't show up at 4:15 (he arrived early yesterday) we were afraid that they forgot about us, our re-booking... but yay, finally, he showed up around 4:25. No big deal; South Africans have a tendency to drive a bit fast ;-)

When we arrived at the balloon grounds, there were quite a few people already there, waiting. There was a booth set up where coffee and rusks (hard biscuits/cookies) were served, so we got some coffee and rusks while watching the crew set up the balloon.

getting more inflated

heating up the air

About hot air balloons in general

The balloon finally inflated and we were ready to board! The basket was huge and fit lots of people. There were several compartments where four people fit in one compartment. It was somewhat crowded but that was OK. Our pilot was Tracey; she has 30+ years of experience as a pilot (and also the most photographed armpits in South Africa). She gave us some instructions, particularly regarding landing, and then we were airborne. Wheeeeee!

Being airborne was... amazing... so quiet and peaceful (well, except for that noise when that hot air blaster went off)...

balloon silhouette II

The scenery... wow...


People looked so small...

people on the road, from above

And trucks looked like toys...

a truck seen from above

The weather suddenly got kind of dodgy though, at least according to Tracey, who was communicating with people on the ground who had that kind of information, so we had to land a bit sooner than planned. Safety and all. Bah. We almost landed on a tree or perhaps a house, but eventually we hit the ground properly and everything was ok...

brushing against the trees

After landing, we all celebrated with a glass of Cap classique (or orange juice for those who didn't want alcohol); some people chose mimosas. We enjoyed this as we watched the crew pack up the balloon...

packing the balloon away

Then we returned to “headquarters” for a big buffet breakfast. There were lots of goodies – eggs, bacon, beans, cheese, yoghurt, fruit salad, freshly squeezed orange juice, several different kinds of bread... and nicely chilled Cap classique of course ;-)

champagne breakfast after the balloon ride

After pigging out on this wonderful breakfast, I took several bird photos while waiting for our ride back to Melville...

purple heron (Ardea purpurea) in flight II

All of the balloon safari photos (except the bird photos) start here and end here. The birds are here...

Some stats (WGS84):
S 25°48.887'
E 027°44.288'

S 25°53.474'
E 027°36.660'

Our highest altitude was 5610 ft. above sea level; our starting point (the balloon field) was 4115 ft. above sea level. You do the math ;-)


Quantum Tiger said...

Great hearon shot - and ballooning seems such a cool way to get it!

Ibukun said...

Great pictures. Sounds like you all had a great time up in the air.