A hot air balloon ride is an experience you do not want to miss, especially over the Yarra Valley in Melbourne. It is peaceful, quiet and a nice breath of fresh air. Literally.
For those of you debating whether to balloon in Melbourne City or Yarra Valley, an easy pro for Yarra Valley is the variety of experience you get out of the ride. The balloons are able to fly high and low whereas the city rides can only fly high to avoid the high rises.
My experience was one of a kind. Our pilot flew us so low we touched the lake for a second and flew off into the air once again, watching the lake ripple behind us. We spotted kangaroos drinking from the Yarra Valley River, different vineyards, steaming lakes and cows running across farms. The fog from the cold morning added to the feel of the scenic sun rise so much so that it made our ride seem extremely mystical and mysterious.
One ride lasts for about an hour in the air and costs around AUD 350 per person. The company I rode with sent us a nice memorabilia of a certificate evidencing the ride we took and when.
For those of you afraid of heights, I can honestly say there is nothing to be afraid of. The ascent and descent is so smooth that you won’t even realise how high you’ve flown until you actually look down. The landing is also gradual so that you do not get that feeling in your stomach. The balloon touches the ground then slides on the field until a full stop. Everybody helps pack up the balloon then heads back to the meeting point which marks the end of your hot air balloon journey.
The main mission of a hot air balloon ride is to catch the sunrise. So when to wake up and meet with the pilot depends on what time the sun rises on the particular day. In my case, it was a 4.30AM meet up with the sun rise predicted to be just before 6AM. We stayed in a nice lodge close by that served a 3 course dinner and buffet breakfast so the drive there took only about 15 minutes.
Waking up at 3AM and paying the AUD350 was most definitely worth it. Anyone who reads this, please do some research and get on the balloon wagon, you will not regret it!