Have you ever wondered if there are hot air balloon rides in Spain? As a child, I always loved the idea of going away on a whimsical adventure. Jules Verne’s ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ and L. Frank Baum’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’ were some of my favorite books. And guess what? I recently found out that there are actually a lot of companies here in Spain that offer hot air ballon rides!
Planning the Adventure
Several tour companies provide the service, and all their rates are essentially the same. I decided to book with Aerotours, because they consistently have high ratings and have been flying for 30 years.
They fly in Segovia, Toledo, Leon, Avila, Salamanca, Burgos, and many more cities. From Madrid, Segovia is one of the prettiest places to visit and is only a 45-minute drive away. If you need a ride, they can also arrange a pick up from Madrid for a small extra fee. And in case it rains, or the weather is not conducive for flying that day, they will reschedule the trip at no extra cost or give you a full refund. After booking, they send you a confirmation and an email with all the information you need to get ready.
How It Works
Hot air balloons are considered the safest aircrafts in the sky because they have less mechanical parts than a plane or a helicopter. They work on the simple scientific principle that hot air is lighter than cold air. So if you contain the hot air in a vessel (like a balloon), it rises up. A burner is attached under the balloon’s opening to keep it going. The pilot pulls the cords attached to a valve to let a little hot air out, so he controls the balloon’s movements up or down. By maintaining the altitude, he enables the wind carry the balloon to the direction he wants it to go. Cool, right?
Fly Day Pre-Jitters
I woke up with butterflies in my stomach on the day of the trip. Hot air balloons take off early in the morning because that’s when the outside air is coolest. So yes, you will have to get up before sunrise, but I promise you it will be worth it.
When we arrived at the fly zone, we were greeted with the sight of around 15 hot air balloons getting fired up and ready to go. It’s exciting to hear the sounds from the roaring burners and the fans used to fill the balloons. Then the sun starts to rise, the pilot gives the group a safety briefing, and it’s time to hop into the wicker basket for the trip. A tip? Don’t wear a short dress as I did. It makes it a little bit challenging to climb in. But I wanted to look cute for my Instagram post, so style over comfort was my motto for the day!!
The takeoff is surprisingly very gentle, like a feather floating. Soon the ground and the trees get smaller and smaller, and you see the entire city of Segovia sprawled beneath you like a scene from a postcard. You get a bird’s eye view of the gothic cathedral, the tiled rooftops, and the Alcazar: the castle that inspired Walt Disney to create Sleeping Beauty. It is so beautiful, it all feels like a dream. Time stops for a moment, and you can savor the peace, quiet and fresh air around you. For a while, I was a little girl again, filled with wonder and awe of the world.
Our pilot, David, told us some stories while in flight. We learned about his adventures ballooning in different countries and how one gets started in the business. We also got to chat with a few other passengers, among them a smiling elderly couple who were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary. They were so excited and held hands the whole time.
The best part of the trip was when we flew over a grassy meadow. David lessened the altitude just enough for us to see a couple of deer running around among the bushes, and a few rabbits at play by a stream. I didn’t want that hour to end, but soon enough, we needed to land. With a slight bump and a few giggles, we were back on solid ground. Que bien!
After our Balloon Ride
After the hot air balloon was folded in and loaded back in the truck, we enjoyed a spread of cheese, jamón, and glasses of bubbly cava. Then the crew handed out our certificates and took celebratory photos, which they email along with a music video the next day. Later, they drove us back to our drop-off point where we said goodbye. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Segovia.
All in all, it was a lovely, unforgettable day. If you’re looking for hot air balloon rides in Spain, then you’re definitely in for a treat. I highly suggest you try it. Have fun!