By: Natasha Archary
Dating in the realm of technology has become so mundane and predictable. People are so afraid of venturing out of their comfort zones that dinner and a movie is usually what a date involves. Standard fare. Where’s the thrill? The larger than life, unforgettable experience?
If you’re on the hunt for an adventure of a lifetime and looking for a way to reignite the spark in your relationship, then look no further than Bill Harrop’s Original Balloon Safaris.
Just 45km north of Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, is the longest established licensed Balloon Airline in Southern Africa.
Tucked away in the heart of the Magalies River Valley and nestled within the gorgeous scenic landscape the thrill of adventure awaits. I was fortunate enough to experience this for myself, driving to the Skeerpoort location at three on a Saturday morning with zero coffee in my system, I asked myself if I was crazy. Who does this?
I’ll admit this unconventional idea is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s risky to even plan this without knowing if your partner is terrified of heights or confined spaces. To answer the question above however, people who are tired of doing the same thing every date night should venture for this romantic experience. You will have the opportunity to take your relationship to new heights, literally.
Coffee and refreshments in hand, I made my way down to the pavillion to watch the flight crew prepare two colourful, gigantic balloons. It was a sight to behold.
I had the pleasure of flying under the expert guidance of Captain Shane Robinson. With over 28 years of balloon flight experience in Napa Valley, USA, Shane’s expertise over the picturesque Magaliesberg region was incredible. He was courteous and answered all questions from attendants with ease and a good sense of humour.
The flight took off before the crack of dawn and there’s something so magical about beating the sun up. The silence of the extremely early morning was punctuated only by the occassional blast of the powerful burners. The residual heat a welcome relief against the cool chill of the valley air. And within minutes, the close to 650kg balloon was off the ground, climbing rapidly, effortlessly.
Coming to a peak at approximately 365 meters above the ground, the 360 degree views were breathtaking. Tranquility and peace enevelops you. It’s liberating. Eventually, all the attendants gave in and we each stood in absolute silence, taking it all in. At some point we all put our cameras and cellphones away out of respect for the beauty that surrounded us.
It’s only when you’re that high that you realize just how finite you are in the grander scheme of things. The valley stretched on for what seemed like forever. Spoilt for choice with a spectacular view of the Magalies River snaking between lush green on one side and on the other, one of the oldest mountain range in the world, the Magaliesberg. It was a truly magical experience being a tourist in my own city and taking in some of the most astonishing views in my life.
I could have stayed up there forever but all good things must come to and end and we gradually made our descent, landing safely in an open field with flight crew waiting on hand to pack up the balloon. A champagne toast rounded off this thrilling adventure and a spectacular breakfast awaited us on our return to Bill Harrops.
This is definitely one for the record books, a true bucketlist achievement and one I will hold onto fondly. Packages are not too pricy and this impressive balloon safari could be one of the more special date ideas that you plan. It would be perfect to pop the question up on cloud nine and I’m sure with a little planning, the crew and staff would be happy to accommodate your requests.
Give this a go if you are looking for something different, a little daring and absolutely romantic. May your romance burn as bright as the roaring burners of these stunning balloons.