It was a cool morning, and it was still dark when we arrived at the Magalies River Valley in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. We were served hot coffee to shake off the sleepiness and to prepare us for a special morning.
To be honest, I normally avoid any situations where I have to get up before dawn – but this morning I was excited. I was going for a hot air balloon ride!
I had one previous experience of hot air ballooning. Then I was hovering over the fascinating landscape in Cappadocia in Turkey, with a panorama view of the chimney pipes and the small houses carved in tufa rocks.
As we were sipping our hot coffee the sun started to rise, and we saw Harrop´s team in hectic activity on the field in front of the clubhouse. After a while, we saw the balloons started to rise from the ground.
Up we go
Hot air balloon rides are dependent on the weather, and nature has to work hand in hand with you to get a successful ride. There was a sigh of disappointment when they informed us that they were not sure about the weather conditions, but then after a while they escorted us to the balloon and we climbed into the basket. After going through safety instructions, the balloon lifted off the ground, and we were hovering towards the treetops and the sunrise!
Our balloon captain this morning was no one less than the boss himself, Bill Harrop. He controlled the balloon with an experience that showed us that he has been doing this a thousand times before. My excitement after rising from the ground was slowly replaced by a wonderful peaceful feeling, as we were in the air with a panoramic view over the valley. Harrop was pointing out landmarks of special interest and telling us stories from his life, and in between his stories, the silence was only occasionally interrupted by the blast of the burners. The experience was nothing less than I remembered from my first balloon ride, and it was a memorable experience!