1. Pole Vault
The Arctic, by balloon? It might sound surprising, but Quark Expeditions (quarkexpeditions.com) offers it as an option on its expedition voyage to the North Pole. Taking up to six days to reach the pole by icebreaker, it departs from the Russian port of Murmansk, and passengers can experience a bird’s-eye view of the wilderness from a tethered balloon 100ft above the icy terrain, if conditions allow.
North Pole: The Ultimate Arctic Adventure from £24,200 for 13 nights including all meals on-board ship. Excludes flights and transfers. Departs June 17 and 28, 2020.
2. Serengeti Sunrise
A 50-minute balloon ride over the Serengeti at sunrise is a wonderful opportunity to view some of Africa’s wildlife, including lions, wildebeest, gazelles and zebras. Tribes Travel (tribes.co.uk) can arrange bespoke flights on its tailor-made Serengeti safaris from lodges close to take-off sites (either Seronera or the Western Corridor). The price includes a 5am camp transfer with a cooked bush breakfast with beverage once back on ground.
Northern Serengeti Migration and Mafia Island from £6,250 for 11 nights full-board, excluding flights. Hot-air balloon flight £500. Departs year round.
3. Albuquerque adventure
Albuquerque’s Rio Grande Valley fills with colour for nine days in October with the arrival of around 600 hot air balloons for the International Balloon Fiesta. Cosmos (cosmos.co.uk) offers two tours to the area, the first coinciding with the predawn opening ceremony and early morning mass ascent. Highlights also include a visit to the city’s balloon museum and grand fireworks display.
Enchanted New Mexico Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta (Oct 3-11) from £2,192.35 including flights, transfers and some meals.
4. Jordanian Journey
Wadi Rum, in the Jordanian desert, is a beautiful landscape peppered with lofty sandstone and granite rock outcrops. Most tours which explore the area include jeep safaris, but there are also hot-air balloons which float high above them. Trailfinders (trailfinders.com) offers a tour departing from the capital Amman which includes an hour-long balloon flight in the region. It also takes in the Byzantine mosaics at Madaba, the biblical site of Mount Nebo and a guided tour of Petra.
Classic Jordan from £2,199 for nine nights including flights, transfers, some meals and hot-air balloon flight. Departs year round.
5. Alpine Fireworks
An hour’s drive from Salzburg, Filzmoos is a small village in the shadow of the Bischofsmutze mountains in central Austria. Its annual winter festival of hot-air balloons takes place at night, so the balloons are lit up and glow in the dusky evening sky against an Alpine backdrop. The festivities wind up with a big firework display.
The 42nd Hot Air Balloon Week in Filzmoos is from Jan 9-16 2021. Hotel Hanneshof (hanneshof-resort.com) from £1,070 B&B for seven nights, or book a package with Inghams (inghams.co.uk).
6. Vilnius with fizz
Few cities allow hot-air balloons to fly over their centres, but Lithuania’s Unesco-listed capital, Vilnius, is an exception. On The Go Tours (onthegotours.com) can organise a 45-minute hot-air balloon ride at sunrise or at sunset over its baroque Old Town, including hotel transfers and a glass of champagne. Depending on the wind conditions, the balloon may also float over the 15th-century castle and woodlands of Trakai Island Castle on Lake Galv.
Hot-Air Balloon Flight over Vilnius Old Town from £110. Apr-Oct.
7. Temples at Dawn
A hot-air balloon ride is a wonderful way to view the astonishing collection of some 2,000 temples and pagodas which spread out over the wide plain which forms the Unesco heritage site of Bagan. Hayes&Jarvis offer this excursion to guests on its luxury cruise along the Ayeyarwady River from Mandalay. Transferring to the launch area by vintage bus, the balloons depart on a 45-minute flight just before sunrise, timed to see the stupas and domes emerge through the early morning mist.
Luxury Myanmar with Belmond Tour from £4,399 for eight nights including flights, transfers, most meals and a hot-air balloon flight at Bagan. Hayes&Jarvis (hayesandjarvis.co.uk).
8. Aiming high down under
Alice Springs is a popular starting point for early morning balloon rides which drift over the vast outback, giving grandstand views of the desert and the MacDonnell mountain range. Distant Journeys (distantjourneys.co.uk) organises Australian itineraries which include Alice Springs and can organise hot air balloon trips lasting 30 or 60 minutes.
Wonders of Australia from £4,995 for 21 nights B&B including flights, transfers and some meals. Hot air balloon in Alice Springs from £170. Departs April, July, November and December.
9. Burgundy glass
Burgundy’s rural landscapes of regimented vineyards, ancient woodland, grand chateaus and historic villages look splendid from on high. Ballooning company France Montgolfieres (france-balloons.com) has with flights departing from a site near Beaune. A variety of different packages are available.
Hotel and balloon flight for two people from €651 for one night B&B including a hot-air balloon trip.
The Sunday telegraph