Sunrise from the sky

The sun is still asleep as I warm my hands by the bonfire, while crunching on rusks and sipping rooibos. Although I try not to rise before the sun, I do make exceptions. A sunrise hot-air balloon safari over the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is certainly on my list. “We’ve had no casualties,” says Brad, our commercial pilot, as we take off over the Magalies River Valley. “This week,” he adds in jest. The technicolour balloon envelope is filled with 415 000 cubic feet of hot air and glides at 14 knots per hour, guided by the direction of the wind. Brad expertly navigates over the river, so we can photograph the balloon’s reflection. We float over geometric farmlands, where the sounds of the world below cannot reach us. Sunlight is mirrored in Hartbeespoort Dam, as we spot the wildlife of Segwati Ranch below – a hare, zebras, antelopes and two giraffe. After a soft landing on the trailer – I merely thought this one of Brad’s many jokes when he suggested it – we sip some bubbly before being driven back to the clubhouse for a Champagne buffet breakfast.