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Jaipur is the capital and largest city in Rajasthan, India. Famous for its pink architecture and royal roots, I expected to spend my days exploring spice markets, admiring the architecture, and walking through palaces. While I did manage to do all that, what I didn’t expect was to float over Jaipur in a hot air balloon. I’m so glad that I did, because my hot air balloon experience in India was wonderful.
Booking a hot air balloon ride in Jaipur
Who to book a hot air balloon ride with
I’ve never been in a hot air balloon before, so India felt just as good a place to do it as any. After all, isn’t India known for their high safety standards? Ha! Joking aside, the company that runs the hot air balloon rides, Sky Waltz Balloon Safari, is reputable and safe. They are India’s first fully licensed and Government approved commercial Hot Air Balloon operation. The team consists of highly experienced, internationally licensed pilots from Europe, the USA, Australia, Canada, India and the UK.
The operating season for the hot air balloon rides starts on the 1st September and finishes on the 30th April. They operate morning and evening flights depending on the time of the year.
Price of a hot air balloon ride in Jaipur
We booked our hot air balloon ride through our G Adventures tour guide which ended up costing $290 each. SkyWaltz has a cheaper price for the hot air balloon ride listed on their website for $180 USD/person, but it is non-refundable. If your hot air balloon fligh gets canceled because of the weather they will only reschedule you to another date, so you have to be flexible with that ticket price. With the more expensive option, the tickets were fully refundable in case of cancellation due to weather.
Don’t forget travel insurance!
While riding a hot air balloon is generally safe if the unfortunate happened you could end up with costly medical bills. Put your mind at peace and get travel insurance. For India, I recommend buying Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com. It’s designed for adventurous travelers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
What to expect on a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Jaipur with SkyWalyz
Sky Waltz will send a driver to pick you up at your accommodation before the balloon ride in Jaipur. Like any other activity I’ve done that involved a sunrise, we had to get up at 4 am for pick-up at the hotel. We celebrated Dusshera the night before as part of the celebrations leading up to Diwali so I had just a couple hours sleep. Luckily, floating in a hot air balloon requires little effort on my part. After about an hour of driving, we arrived at the launch site where they have coffee, chai, and cookies available. Thank goodness, masala chai makes everything better.
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At the launch site, the staff were busy inflating three balloons; two 16-person and one 8-person. By a stroke of luck, we get put into the smaller 8-person balloon or as I know it “the VIP balloon”. In order to get ready for take-off everyone first has to get inside the basket horizontally, and then the staff will tip the basket up vertically. This is a strange sensation but once the balloon is put vertical, the basket is actually pretty comfortable.
Up up and away
After the balloon was put vertically, the pilot lit the fire and up away we went into the air! What I found surprising about the entire experience was how calm it felt. I expected to feel scared. You know, being thousands of feet off the ground, only held in the air by some science that I still don’t understand. But alas, I felt incredibly relaxed during the whole ride.
All three balloons took off around the same time so we were able to see them floating next to us, which added to the experience. As the sun began to peek over the hills and light up the land below, the views became even more beautiful.
Continuing the journey, we floated over rural villages. As we passed by, the locals stood on their roofs waving us big hellos. This was my favorite part of the whole experience, it was so much fun to wave back at everyone from above. I can’t say that the local animals felt the same, the goats looked indifferent and the cows appeared horrified.
Landing the hot air balloon
The whole balloon ride in Jaipurshould last about an hour but we ended up going for about double that due to some complications landing. Because they can’t predict the wind paths well, each day the pilot lands in any clear area they can find. At least this is what we were told. The wind decided to be difficult that day, so each time our pilot tried to land the wind would change and we’d float up again. I had no problem with this, but there was definitely some low-key anxiety in the air that we would run out of gas. After several attempts, the pilot finally brings us down only to land in a tree! Don’t worry, no one was hurt and we all laughed about it.
At this point the pilot tells us to stay put in the basket, which is now horizontal to the ground, and wait for the rest of the team to come get us. This takes a while because we floated so far away and they have to track our location. Of course, because this is India, the entire surrounding village comes to greet us. It was so funny, I almost felt famous. Everyone in the village stood around the balloon, taking pictures of us and asking for selfies. They even offered us Chai!
All in all, I loved my experience riding a hot air balloon over Jaipur.
What else to do in Jaipur, India
There are a number of activities to do in Jaipur. Wander around the local spice markets, where you can buy vacuum sealed bags of spices to bring home with you. In the evening, check out a Bollywood film at the famous Art Deco Raj Mandir cinema. For more ideas and inspiration, check out this Jaipur Guide.
Where to stay in Jaipur, India
Jaipur has a number of accommodation options ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. I stayed at Utsav Niwas which was clean, lovely, and centrally located!
What to do after Jaipur, India
India is just one of the colourful cities of Rajasthan. Head to Jaisalmer for an epic overnight camel safari, or visit nearby Pushkar for lovely markets and food.
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I don’t have any other hot air balloon rides to compare this one too, but I know I’ll never forget this experience. There’s just something about Indian hospitality. Where else in the world can you crash a hot air balloon in someone’s backyard, only to have them come out and offer you a cup of tea? It is reasons like this that make me love India.
Have you ever ridden a hot air balloon before? How was your experience? I’d love to hear about it, let me know in the comments below!
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