June 12, 2020
Jaipur, known as the pink city, is home to gorgeous palaces, ancient forts, and enchanting markets to wander through, full of textiles and spices. It wasn’t a place I expected to be given the chance to go on a hot air balloon ride, but when the opportunity came up I immediately said yes!
Since it was a sunrise balloon ride, the pickup time at the hotel was 4 am. Despite knowing how early this was, I went against common sense and stayed up late into the night, celebrating with the locals. I was in India during Diwali, which is one of the biggest holidays in the country. Throughout the month leading up to it, fireworks are set off in the streets which doesn’t usually equate to a good night’s sleep, but it’s so much fun to take part in.
The guide picked us up on time, and I took a nap in the back of the van during the drive. About an hour later, we arrived at the launch site. As soon as I saw the balloons being inflated and the first morning light come through, I immediately forgot how tired I was.
Unlike many hot air balloon destinations around the world, in Jaipur, only a few balloons are launched each day. There were only three balloons that day, and we got lucky and got put in the smallest one, or as it was then known as ‘The VIP Balloon.” It was just four of us and the pilot.
The ride started off smoothly. I expected that it would feel scary, but once the balloon proved its capability of staying in the air, I felt completely at ease. It’s an amazing feeling to float through the air, watching the world wake up. We journeyed through rural Jaipur, overlooking local farms and villages. The sun started to rise and it was an incredible show of colors over the green fields below. As we floated by the villages, locals stood on their rooftops and waved big hellos to us.
A typical balloon ride lasts about 45 minutes, but the day we went the winds were being quite difficult. Our pilot explained that they land in a different location every day since you can’t predict the winds. Every time our pilot attempted to land the balloon it would be swiftly picked up by the wind again. Due to this, the ride went on much longer than expected.
We ended up flying over another town where we definitely couldn’t land, and you could tell the pilot was starting to become concerned about running out of fire. It was nearing an hour and a half, so the pilot made another attempt to land the balloon. This time successful, right into a bush. Not to worry, given the circumstances he did an amazing job and everyone was safe. Because of our awkward positioning, we had to wait until the crew could come and get us out safely. We had traveled pretty far, so it took them a while to find us.
We landed in a small village in rural India, and the entire community came out to see us. You’d think that someone might be upset we just landed a balloon in their backyard, but because this is India all we received was kind hospitality. While we waited for the crew to come and get us from the balloon, the friendly locals stood around chatting to us and offering chai tea. I took a million selfies with them and felt a bit like a celebrity.
The crew found us after a while and we said goodbye to our new friends in the village. Landing in the wrong place gave us one of those special India moments of hospitality that makes me love that country - there’s nowhere quite like it on Earth.
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Bio: Lora is a solo female adventure travel blogger living nomadically around the world. Raised on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, she has a deep love for nature and wildlife. Lora has traveled to over 55 countries and is on a quest to visit them all, seeking out the best adventures each one has to offer. For more adventure travel inspiration and solo female travel tips, visit her blog at Explore with Lora or on Instagram.
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