Is a flight to the skies in your near future? Here’s Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris top tips to getting the very best from your hot air balloon adventure- and your entire trip to our beautiful corner of the world
Will I meet wild animals in the street?
This might seem an odd opener, but bear with us- we get asked it a lot! Remember that Gauteng, especially Joburg itself, is the business capital of South Africa. Most areas are very urban. Even when you head out the city to the favourite tourist destinations and beauty spots, you still won’t be abandoned in the rural wilds. So don’t worry if you need to buy a new pair of ‘jammies, or if you left your contact lens solution on the nightstand before you came- there’ll be opportunity enough to get yourself sorted.
You won’t meet wild animals on the streets (well, outside of rush hour, of course), but everyone who comes to South Africa should take a day or two to meet our fantastic animal life up-close on one of the remarkable reserves in the area.
What can I wear here?
In a broader sense, remember that Johannesburg and surrounding areas are very cosmopolitan. Unless you’re heading out into some off-the-beaten-track rural areas, there’s absolutely no need to worry about what you’re wearing. We’re pretty anything-goes here. You’ll see business suits smack up against traditional garb and Gucci, and everything in between!
However, for the morning of your trip, you’ll want to invest in pants and some solid, flat shoes. You’re going to need to be comfortable to climb into-and-out-of the balloon basket, so short skirts aren’t recommended. Likewise, the woven nature or the basket, and the padded floor, mean you’ll be much happier in flats for the day. It can be a little chilly pre-dawn, but you’re sure to get warm in the basket, so layers are a great idea.
When is the hot air balloon season?
We have no strict ballooning season here in South Africa- but adverse weather can obviously still have an impact on your flight. Winter is the dry season here in Joburg, and coincidentally some of the very best ballooning weather in the world, too. We still run trips all summer long, however, so don’t panic. You’ll be able to earn your hot air balloon wings almost year round. If the weather’s going to be too dangerous for ballooning on the day you booked, we will contact you to reschedule.
Where can I stay?
If you’re not taking advantage of one of our fantastic game reserve partnerships to seal the ballooning deal than don’t worry- the Cradle of Humankind is a bustling area packed with everything from intimate B&Bs to luxury eco-lodges. There’s plenty to choose from for all tastes and budgets.
What can I expect from my flight itself?
Now the nitty-gritty is out of the way, let’s get to the exciting stuff… your flight itself! You’ll need to arrive at your launch site before the dawn. If you’re on-reserve, that’s simple enough. If you’re launching from our home base at the clubhouse, however, remember that you’ll be driving down some dark roads to get here. Bring your GPS (or rent at the airport), or make sure you have Google Maps on your side to make the journey a smooth one. And be prepared to take it slow!
Once you pull into the gates, your hard work is done- our skilled team will handle it from there. Join us on the verandah for a cup of something warming, and get to know your balloon-mates and pilot a little better.
We won’t spoil the adventure for you by going into any more details- you’re just going to have to come and experience it for yourself! If you have any other pressing questions, however, the Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris team is always here to help.