Imagine proposing to your long-time girlfriend on a scenic hot air balloon ride? Imagine taking your vows and getting married while flying at 1000-2000 feet above ground level! Or maybe you could surprise your partner on an anniversary or birthday by treating him/her to an exhilarating bird’s eye view of central Sri Lanka.
Hot air ballooning is an adventurous excursion promoted by Sri Lanka tourism and has caught on well with tourists as well as locals. Enjoy a silent ride in Sri Lanka through the sky, gently drifting over the cultural triangle, with a stunning aerial view of the central plains, man-made lakes, an elephant or two, and some ancient monuments. Just think about it as a wildlife safari, but in a hot air balloon and an aerial view!
In this article, we will provide a brief hot air ballooning guide in Sri Lanka with all the relevant information you need to know to include this exciting activity during your holiday.
What is hot air ballooning?
The principle based on which hot air ballooning functions is very basic: warmer air rises in cooler air. In other words, hot air is lighter than cool air because of its lesser mass per unit of volume. Hot air balloons are huge because each cubic foot of air can lift only about 7 grams. To lift about 8-10 people, about 65000 cubic feet of hot air is needed!
Hot air ballooning isn’t really a practical option if you want to get from one place to another, because there is no steering system on it; it only travels as fast as the wind blows. But, in Sri Lanka, hot air ballooning is popular for enjoying the open-air flying experience, and most say “there’s nothing quite like it”, and go on to describe the activity as one of the most serene and enjoyable activities ever experienced!
What is the best time for hot air ballooning?
The best weather conditions for hot air ballooning are in stable and light winds, ranging between 4-6 miles per hour, but can go up to 7-10 mph too.
Just after sunrise, or 2-3 hours before sunset would be the ideal time of the day for hot air ballooning because these hours are when light winds occur. During mid-day it is too hot for guests to enjoy the activity, and thermals (hot air bubbles) make it dangerous too.
In Sri Lanka, the best time for hot air ballooning would be from February to April, but the activity is still possible on most days throughout the months of November to April. If it is raining heavily or it is too windy a day and the weather is not ideal for hot air ballooning on the day you have booked the activity, the organizers will cancel your ticket and schedule it for another day.
Where can I do hot air ballooning in Sri Lanka?
Operating only in central Sri Lanka, the pickup locations for hot air ballooning will be from Habarana, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandalama and the times will vary depending on the pick-up point.
What would the experience be like?
A hot air balloon ride in Sri Lanka is going to show you picturesque views of lush green jungles, spectacular mountain peaks and serene green fields for as far as your eye can see. Rising up to 2000 feet above the ground, you will feel pretty much motionless because the balloon moves with the wind. A sense of stillness and serenity will be wrapped around you, disturbed only by the occasional shootings of your balloon’s burners.
Before dawn, you will be taken to the starting point of the hot air balloon ride, where you will see your balloons being blown up while you enjoy a hot drink and a snack. Your hot air balloon guide will then give you a short briefing about your flight, specifying that the direction of the balloon will vary depending on the wind direction. You will then be shown towards your balloon and guided to get on board.
While on air, the pilot will point out scenic landmarks such as the Kandalama Reservoir built by ancient Kings of Sri Lanka, the giant Golden Buddha statue from the cave temples of Dambulla, and the popular Sigiriya rock fortress that hosts ruins of an ancient palace. Also keep an eye out for hiding wild animals such as elephants and buffalos moving through the jungles below, as well as bird varieties flying from tree to tree. The views as the sun comes up are one of the most beautiful sights you will ever come across in all of Sri Lanka.
After about one hour in air, your pilot will land the flight. Depending on which package you opt for, you may be able to enjoy a breakfast picnic during your flight, or sip on a few cool drinks as you enjoy the scenic views. Once you have landed, join your pilot for some champagne to celebrate a successful flight before you continue the rest of your Sri Lanka holiday itinerary for the day.
Recommended clothing and what to bring for a hot air ballooning trip
- Wear comfortable clothing; keeping in mind that as the day goes on, it can get warmer. Casual wear would be most recommended, along with a cap, sunscreen and sunshades to protect yourself from the sun.
- Anywhere between 2-16 people can be accommodated on a hot air balloon, so closed toe shoes would be best to avoid any toe stepping incidents!
- You could carry some candy or chocolates to throw to Sri Lankan kids as you fly over their homes, or give it to them if you happen to land on their premises!
Other things to keep in mind:
- Advanced reservations for your flight are recommended in order to avoid disappointment, especially if you are visiting only for a few days.
- A total of 3.5 hours need to be allocated for the hot air ballooning excursion.
- Your tour vehicle can follow you with the chase crew to pick you up from where you land.
- Children below 7 years of age and pregnant women are not allowed to take the flight. Upon request, exemptions can be made for children.
- If your flight is cancelled as a result of bad weather and re-scheduling is not possible, full payment will be refunded.
Hot air ballooning tours in Sri Lanka
Blue Lanka Tours can schedule a hot air balloon tour for you during your holiday in Sri Lanka. If you are interested in this exhilarating activity, simply inform us in advance when preparing your tailor-made holiday itinerary, and we will include it in the package. For more information, view our hot air ballooning day tour itinerary, or contact us via email [email protected] or phone: +94 777 300 852, and our team of friendly travel consultants will be happy to help.