Why I'd rather see the world from the basket of a Balloon

I crave stillness and quiet. I love having space around me and admiring an empty vista. I can sit for hours and just look or watch and I’ve never found a better way to fulfill this need for peaceful emptiness than up up and away in a beautiful balloon.

It’s not an inexpensive past time and a little of it goes a long way – reminiscing while in the bath, eyes closed, is part of the pleasure – but once a year, while on holiday, I make sure I refresh my perspective by climbing into a basket and defying gravity in the simplest way possible. Its gentleness as a mode of transport contributes to the feeling of calm. Helicopters are too noisy and planes require an understanding of aero-science or a leap of faith to feel totally relaxed about being that far off the ground, but in a balloon the hot air rises and so do you.

I’ll drift over fields, or the desert, or jungles or perfect rows of grape vines, as long as the horizon is a long way into the distance and the earth below has taken on that look of a patchwork quilt then I am content. Ideally I would spend more time hovering over the earth, whole weeks at a time re-enacting ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’; people like Phil Dunnington will take you on that kind of journey. You have to keep off the tourist trails and have an entourage of support vehicles tracking you but part of the magic is being at the whim of nature’s breath, but it’s an incredible once in a life time experience.

The desert is asking to be explored in this way. This is the way I found both it and ballooning. I spent five days hovering around the edges of the Sahara filming and taking photos of the desert in all its guises. That’s another element of ballooning, the curious light. The times of day most suitable for starting up the gas cylinders are the still fresh mornings or exhaling evenings, which colour the landscapes differently and infuse a journey with a bit more other worldly calm. But from that first proper adventure I have found an appreciation for the more sedate ballooning jaunts you find over beautiful misty wine regions or famous landmarks and I now firmly believe you haven’t really seen a place until you’ve seen it laid out below you like a beautifully spread table, and you certainly haven’t properly photographed it.

More Great Ballooning Experiences

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