Would you believe us if we told you winter is one of the very best times for a hot air balloon flight? Don’t be skeptical- it’s the solid gold truth! Today, the Bill Harrop’s team will walk you through why the chilly season is generally counted as the most spectacular chance to enjoy everything hot air ballooning has to offer.
Hot air balloons get their lift through the changes in temperature between the air in the balloon itself and the air outside it. The closer together those two temperatures, the harder it is for the balloon to maneuver to its full effect. The air in the balloon needs to be roughly 75 degrees hotter than the air around it for nimble flying and great lift. Needless to say, that’s easier to achieve in winter then hot African summers! While a balloon is spectacular to fly year-round, this added boost makes the balloon even more gracefully in winter, with great lift and the perfect chance to wander the currents.
Warmer weather [for the flyers]
It stands to reason you will be colder in the basket then on the ground, right, and who wants to be even colder in winter? Wrong! While rule of thumb in physics is that you get colder the higher in altitude you go, this doesn’t apply to ballooning on winter mornings- the air closest to the earth is, in fact, the coolest layer at this time. You may even feel a slight temperature increase as you rise. Because you’re riding with the wind, and due to the close proximity of the burner, you won’t experience wind chill either- it’s rather like being in a greenhouse, your own little oasis of warmth among the chilly landscape. Additionally, as this is the dry season for our part of South Africa, weather tends to be more consistent and predictable, reducing the chances of flight disruption.
It’s a well-known, although little appreciated, fact that wildlife sightings in winter can be spectacular, because vegetation generally decreases and gives less opportunity to hide. This counts for birdlife, too, making winter perfect for spotting flocks on the wing. Add to that the lower angle the sun has as it breeches the horizon, and you can imagine the icy beauty of the landscape unfolding below you- and the potential for the shot of a lifetime.
While a hot air balloon ride in South Africa is an amazing experience no matter the season, winter offers a particularly special atmosphere it’s well worth experiencing. Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris is running a fantastic winter special at the moment, so why not come enjoy the ride and experience it for yourselves?