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Who would have imagined for a hot air balloon in Dubai? Not me! Listed on my bucket list was a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey, however, I was able to try it here in Dubai.
Hot Air Balloon ride in The UAE is actually seasonal. They run from September – May every year because of weather conditions while June – August is the warmest month.
I won’t sugarcoat things here, the ride is expensive though I booked the budget ride on a certain website. It is still expensive.
Package + Cost: 1. Hot Air Balloon Ride + Falconry + Breakfast + Wildlife Safari = AED 1350 or USD 370 2. Hot Air Balloon Ride + Falconry + Breakfast = AED 1250 or USD 343 3. Hot Air Balloon Ride + Falconry = AED 839 or USD 230
Inclusions for all package: 1. Hotel/Residence pick up and drop off. 2. An hour flight 3. Flight Certificate
What to Remember: 1. Be on time - driver will not wait for you. 2. This is not for the faint hearted - remember that you will be flying 4000 ft. in an open basket. 3. Listen and follow the crew and captains safety precautions and instructions. 4. They don't allow bags and cameras with huge lenses on flight. Carry less or leave your things inside the car who picked you up. 5. Enjoy the ride.
What to Bring: 1. Camera with one small lenses only ( compact camera is fine) 2. Scarf, shawl or jacket as its cold in the desert - doesn't need to be thick. 3. Sun Glasses 4. Cap 5. Wallet ( pocket size).
Our adventure started at 04:55H when the driver picked us up from a hotel in downtown Dubai. It took us no more than 45 minutes to arrive Margham Area in Dubai or Dubai Conservation Park. We were advised to leave excess baggage such as bags, wallets and big camera lenses upon arrival.
Afterwards, we had a 10 minutes safety briefing. We were group into two, 12 persons per group for left and right-wing. Out of which we were a group again into two, 6 persons each for the compartment. We are a total of 25 in a basket including the captain and a crew for the falcon.
We then watch the process of filling air into the balloon from laying the balloon on the ground to inflating an air.
After a few minutes, your captain will ask you to climb the basket and without you knowing it you are already off the ground.
As you slowly climb up 4000 ft. you will witness one of the most magnificent sunrises. A beautiful shade of yellow to orange over the horizon with the other balloon floating around the area. While appreciating the sunrise the crew will then release the falcon from the balloon to show how fast and agile they are.
As you gradually go down, you will see the wave of sands with the footprints of camels, goats, gazelles or if you’re lucky enough oryx. As we wait for landing, we floated over the Sheik’s enormous property.
Landing is not actually that easy as it will still depend on the wind and the flat surface. Pass the sheikh’s property was our landing area. As the captain instructed us to take the landing position it took only a few minutes when we felt a sudden jolt and tilt as the weight of the balloon shifted on one side. And the captain replied. “It’s normal, this was the smoothest I had for the past week.” 😉
After landing wait for the captain’s instruction to climb out of the basket. You will then be given a few minutes to take a photo with the falcon. And while you are waiting for your turn you can watch the other crew fold and tuck the heavy balloon.
If you opted for package 1 and 2 the crew will drive you on the breakfast area or if not ( like me) our driver, drive us back directly to downtown and had our breakfast at home happy and satisfied with the experience.
More of Dubai here.