“It was like I was the only person in the whole world. It’s so quiet, so peaceful. It’s something you just have to do.” When my mom told me this after taking a hot-air balloon ride in Las Vegas, my interest was immediately piqued. Seeing landscapes from such great heights has always appealed to me, but the free-falling nature of skydiving doesn’t, so hot-air balloons seem like a good compromise.
Now the only question is, where do I take my maiden voyage? After all, if any of us are going to spend good money on a ride through the sky, it better be worth our while. Smoggy skylines and boring views need not apply. So where in the world do we go to take the best hot-air balloon rides?
1. Cappadocia, Turkey
Soaring through the air is the best way to take in all of this ancient region’s rocky and cavernous terrain.
2. Luxor, Egypt
A hot-air balloon ride offers breathtaking views of the many temples that cover this Egyptian area, not to mention the mighty Nile River.
3. Napa Valley, U.S.
What better way to fully enjoy the sprawling California wine vineyards than gliding over them as the sun rises?
4. Serengeti, Tanzania
Enjoy a champagne breakfast and watch lions and giraffes do their thing from the safety of the sky.
5. Burgundy, France
Hot air ballooning was born in this French wine region, making it an excellent place to embark on a journey overlooking its vineyards and canal.
6. Queenstown, New Zealand
Flights over Queenstown afford its passengers a majestic landscape filled with mountains, lakes, and scenery straight out of the Lord of the Rings movies.
7. Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru
Along with the obligatory tour of Machu Picchu, take time to view the famous Incan ruins and Urabamba Valley from thousands of feet in the air.
8. Lake Tahoe, U.S.
If you enjoy panoramic shots of snow-topped mountain ranges and crystal-clear lakes, this ride is for you.
Riding in a hot-air balloon seems like an unparalleled, once-in-a-lifetime experience, particularly when it’s done from any of these optimal locations. Witnessing such beauty high above the crowds of these tourist-heavy locations will be like a breath of fresh air, figuratively and literally.