A Guide for Hot Air Ballooning in Sri Lanka
Thrill-seekers flock to Sri Lanka for the many adventure experiences that generally take place within its thick jungles, atop its spectacular mountains, or over its raging rapids. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to engage in strenuous activity to have a fun and exhilarating experience on the island.
Hot air ballooning is both exciting and peaceful, and it can be a wonderful way to experience the island. Recognized as the world’s safest air sport, hot air ballooning in Sri Lanka will give you a bird’s-eye view of lush jungles and gorgeous attractions that are rarely seen from that vantage point. Immerse yourself in the early morning peace and quiet of a ride through the Sri Lankan skies; it’s an experience you will never forget.
How does it work?
Hot air balloon trips are generally conducted over Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, because the wind conditions and weather are calmer here. Your balloon will set off in the early hours of the morning – this is the best time for hot air balloon rides because this is when the winds are most tranquil. Balloon rides ordinarily take place between November and April, when the weather in the area is best – but if the weather looks unsafe, don’t worry, your safety will always come first. Your pilot will cancel the trip if the weather is unsuitable, and you should be completely refunded.
Hot air balloons work because the air inside the balloon’s envelope is heated until it becomes lighter than the cooler air around it, which causes the balloon to rise and carry the attached passenger basket with it. Some tour packages provide a breakfast spread, so you can relax with a hearty Sri Lankan meal as you watch the crew prepare the balloon for flight; although if this is your attempt to conquer that fear of heights, maybe don’t fill up too much. Once the balloon is ready, you will be airborne in time to witness the golden early morning sky, and possibly watch some of Sri Lanka’s wildlife begin to wake and start their day.
Hot air balloons fly in the direction of the wind, so no two flight paths are ever completely the same. Wind currents vary with altitude, and your pilot will use this to expertly navigate your journey by causing the balloon to rise and fall as needed.
What should I bring?
Dress comfortably for the trip. Keep in mind that it can get warmer as the day goes on, so casual wear is best suited for the journey. A hat or a cap to protect your face from the sun would be ideal – and don’t forget to wear that sunscreen!
The balloon’s passenger baskets can carry between 2 – 16 people on a trip. It might be a bit crowded in there, so it is best to wear closed-toe shoes to avoid any accidentally stepped-on toes!
What can I expect?
Expect to be amazed! A hot air balloon ride over Sri Lanka is going to show you vast swathes of lush green jungle, the spectacular peaks of the island’s mountain ranges, and peaceful green fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. You will get to drift up to 2000 feet above the ground and, because the balloon moves with the wind, you will feel almost motionless. There is a sense of stillness and serenity, and an absolute quiet, disturbed only by the occasional firing of your balloon’s burners.
Below, you will get to see the Kandalama Reservoir, built by Sri Lanka’s ancient kings to irrigate local farms; the giant Golden Buddha statue near the ancient cave temples of Dambulla; and of course, Sigiriya rock, the famous fortress that hosts the ruins of an ancient palace at its peak. You may also catch sight of elephants about to start their day, buffalos milling around in paddy fields, and other wildlife moving through the jungles below.
The flight should last about an hour. Depending on your tour package, you might get to enjoy a picnic in the sky during your journey, or some cool drinks to sip on as you watch the world slowly move by. When you have landed – and that time will come far quicker than you hoped – your pilot will break out the champagne to celebrate a successful flight, before you head back to your hotel to continue on the rest of your trip.