World's Best Hot-Air Balloon Rides

World's Best Hot-Air Balloon Rides

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Take to the skies on one of these hot-air balloon journeys to recapture the magic of flying.

13 Places
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    Inspiration to the likes of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Thomas Gray, England’s Lake District is one of the country’s most picturesque spots. The Lake District National Park is home to England’s tallest peak, Scafell Pike, as well pastoral mountain scenery and native English flora and fauna. 
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    The largest lake in the U.S. behind the Great Lakes, Lake Tahoe is the epicenter of year-round outdoor activity in the Sierra Nevada. For optimal views of the surrounding area, Lake Tahoe Balloons launches off the deck of the Tahoe Flyer, a U.S.C.G.-certified boat, making for a unique liftoff. On your ride, you’ll see Emerald Bay, Fallen Leaf Lake, Cascade Lake, and the Desolation Wilderness in the Eldorado National Forest, with views of Yosemite’s peaks visible on particularly clear days.
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    A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world and Cambodia’s most famous landmark. The temple complex was constructed in the early twelfth century, acting as the capital of the Khmer Empire, and the monument has been fantastically preserved for modern viewing. The entire site covers more than 500 acres, making a balloon trip well worth it for the stunning views of the landscape. 
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    The Genesee River forms the centerpiece of this park in upstate New York, cutting a gorge through the landscape that produces Letchworth’s three main waterfalls. Known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth is best viewed from a balloon, as you drift through the gorge and over the park’s stomach-dropping waterfalls. The park hosts a balloon rally every year in May to celebrate the gorgeous scenery and the ballooning craft.
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    Nothing quite embodies the quintessential American Wild West as much as the stark sandstone buttes of Monument Valley, thanks to their appearances in iconic Western films starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, as well as in Thelma & Louise, Forrest Gump, and Windtalkers.Located along the Arizona–Utah border near the Four Corners, the area is crammed with stunning natural wonders, including deep gorges, sculpted rock formations, and windswept mesas.
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    The ancient city known as the City of the Gods, dates back as far as 300 B.C. and was at one point the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. The city is best known for its enormous pyramids, which include temples to the moon, sun, and Quetzalcoatl, a Mesoamerican deity with the body of a snake, that have been excellently preserved over thousands of years. While the complex is easily explored on foot, a bird’s-eye view affords a stunning perspective of the massive structures.
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    Located between Pretoria and Johannesburg, the Magalies River Valley is a popular destination for boating, golf, and other outdoor activities in the verdant region surrounding the Hartbeespoort Dam. Bill Harrop’s Original Balloon Safaris is one of the premier operators in the region, taking off in Gauteng, an area known as the Cradle of Humankind. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999, the area is home to some of the oldest fossils ever discovered, dating back 3.3 million years.
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    f you can pry yourself away from the world-famous slopes in Gstaad, you’ll find that the mountains are equally impressive from the air. Flights out of Gstaad offer 360-degree views of surrounding Berner Oberland, as well as a bird’s-eye view of the mountain towns dotted across the hillsides. Visitors looking for the ultimate ballooning experience should head to Gstaad during the Festival International de Ballons, Chateau-d’Oex in January to watch the spectacle.
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    Nestled along the shores of Queenstown Bay, Queenstown does not lack in dramatic scenery, with stunning views of The Remarkables mountain range rising in the distance above the cerulean waters of Lake Wakatipu. The area, perhaps best known as the filming location of The Hobbit, opens up spectacularly before you once you climb aboard a hot-air balloon. 
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    Tanzania’s most famous national park sees the migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles every year, the ultimate African safari experience. While it would be impossible to see the entirety of the enormous, 5,700-square-mile park, take to the skies for a hot-air balloon safari to see the expansive plains of this UNESCO World Heritage Site stretch out before you. 
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    While many of Napa’s delights are best enjoyed on the ground with a glass in hand, a view from above offers another great way to experience California’s famous valley. If you set out fromYountville, you’ll be afforded views of Mount St. Helena and the Mayacamas Mountains, with sweeping vineyards in the foreground; in the right weather conditions, you’ll even be able to see the San Francisco skyline in the distance.
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    Dating back as far as the ninth century, many of the temples today have suffered significant erosion damage, exposing the brick structural blocks and revealing a spectacular rusty red color. Balloons over Bagan offers one of the most stunning rides over the landscape, taking guests above the temples of Bagan and past nearby villages. As there is no designated landing spot, you never know where in the stunning environs your journey will end.
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