“If you never try, you’ll never know.” ~ John Barrow.
For many of us for the past few years, flying anywhere in a commercial jet was out of the question. But if you’re anything like me, you’re always yearning for that feeling of soaring above the clouds and experiencing a new environment without hopping on a plane. So, have you ever wondered what it would be like to experience a hot air balloon ride?
When I was invited to experience my first hot air balloon Sydney flight, my initial thoughts were met with hesitation. “Fly above the city in an open-air basket? I can’t do that! What about the rough landing and freezing air up there? It’s not exactly an aeroplane, after all!”
If you’ve ever had those thoughts too, there’s no need to worry. As I’m about to explain in this guide to taking a hot air balloon ride in Sydney, the more I thought about the benefits of this experience, the more my hesitation dissipated. I’m not one to pass up an amazing opportunity like this so I bit the bullet – and am incredibly grateful I did.
I experienced this amazing Camden Valley hot air balloon flight at sunrise thanks to Klook and Balloon Aloft. If you’re interested to find out what to expect, why hot air ballooning might become addictive and how you can book your own, read on for more!
This guide to enjoying a hot air balloon in Sydney will cover:
This post contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Why book a hot air balloon ride with Klook?
Did you know Klook is one of the cheapest places to book travel related experiences and activities? Booking through Klook means benefits such as instant confirmation, free cancellation (in some cases), and skip-the-line tickets. You can also accumulate points to put towards discounted tickets for future experiences! Take a read about even more benefits of using Klook here.
Although Klook has become popular in Asia since 2014, they are a new player in the Western Hemisphere so you may not have heard of them just yet. Here on my travel blog I only recommend a product or service I genuinely love and use myself and have been recommending Klook to my readers since 2018.
Private hot air balloon Sydney
Perhaps you’d like to celebrate a special birthday or occasion with a private hot air balloon ride? Klook can help, even in more locations around Australia such as Hunter Valley, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne and Launceston. On the day of my balloon ride there were two marriage proposals – what an unforgettable way to pop the question!
Ready to secure your date?
For full transparency, Klook kindly gifted me this hot air balloon experience but rest assured this did not influence my opinion and all thoughts below are my own. So let’s dive into what you can expect during your own balloon ride!
What to expect hot air ballooning in Sydney
Night before the hot air balloon in Sydney experience
As your balloon ride depends heavily on the weather conditions, Balloon Aloft will provide confirmation the night before if your experience will proceed the following morning. They provide a phone number to call with a recorded confirmation message.
Safety is the number one priority so if weather conditions aren’t ideal, your ride will be rescheduled for another day – no worries.
On the day of the Sydney hot air balloon ride
There’s a little more to rocking up and jumping into your balloon! Here’s a rundown of what you can expect.
Arrive at Camden Valley Inn
The meeting point for balloon riders on my flight was at the lovely Camden Valley Inn before sunrise. It’s so welcoming with its glowing fairy lights adorning the surrounding trees.
Your recorded confirmation message from the night before will outline the exact time you need to be there. For my winter flight this was 5:30am, but note it would be earlier during summer months as the sun rises sooner.
It’s important to NOT be later than your allotted time otherwise you will miss your chance to sign in, select your breakfast for afterwards and potentially miss your flight. The pilots (and sunrise) can’t wait!
TIP: This is your last chance to use the toilet before the flight – there aren’t any at the launch sites.
Finalise launch location
From Camden Valley Inn, a shuttle bus will transport you in the direction of the balloon launch location – there are about 30 sites! I found this next part quite interesting.
The final location depends heavily on optimum wind conditions, so your pilot needs to make their final decision at this point based on the wind direction. To do so, the team send up a small helium balloon with a flashing red LED light nearby their shortlist of locations for that morning.
As wind flows in “layers”, this small balloon floating at 200 feet helps them determine the final launch site.
Shuttle bus to location
Once the final launch site has been decided by your pilot, your shuttle bus will follow a ute towing your hot air balloon and basket. It’s a strange sight to see the baskets without the balloons attached during setup – but there will be plenty of time for that very soon.
This next part was the most exciting for me! As the black skies above slowly began transitioning to dawn, on the horizon silhouettes of trees began to peep through the morning fog. I’ll admit the fog had me feeling a little down as I thought it would make visibility very low. I was happy to be wrong about this and you’ll soon see why down the page!
There was something pretty special about seeing these massive balloons come to life while lined in a row. Being this close to them made me really appreciate their true enormity – they can be up to 30 metres high! The baskets are laid on their sides to be attached to the balloon before they’re inflated.
Firstly, the balloons are inflated with cool air to expand them enough before the hot air is used. You can see in the images below how huge the flame is to get these babies off the ground! The flame’s loud roar began to build the exhilarating anticipation of knowing we’d be in the air very soon.
Once there was the right amount of hot air inside the balloon, the basket tilted upright like a toy duck popping up out of bath water. It was time for a huge “legs up” into the basket, which is divided into four compartments for us passengers and the pilot in the centre. The basket for my flight could hold up to 20 people – it was massive.
TIP: So the basket is evenly weighted, the team will allocate you a compartment to stand in. Don’t worry, each compartment has a coveted corner spot for amazing photo opportunities!
Sound great so far?
Hot air balloon Sydney flight
After our pilot explained the correct way to position ourselves for landing afterwards, it was time for lift off! It was so gradual that at first I was too busy checking the settings on my camera I didn’t realise we were airborne, ha. I think I was expecting it to be more of a jolt. After a moment we were above another balloon, which was so cool to see from a bird’s eye view.
Before long, we’d floated high above the fog into the clear skies. The fog created a beautiful, river-like blanket over lovely Camden Valley below. There were a few moments where the scenery reminded me of places from overseas. We also noticed how deadly silent and peaceful it was at this altitude (aside from the occasional flame burst).
Once the sun rose up from behind the clouds, it was a magical time for photography – the entire region was cloaked in a golden filter. We could even see the Blue Mountains over in the distance at one point!
Throughout the course of our one hour flight, the balloon proceeded to climb high and descend before climbing again. It was really cool to see the other balloons floating nearby that took off with us earlier.
A few of us were surprised that we didn’t feel cold up above the clouds, the wind was minimal and the burst of flame into the balloon above definitely kept us warm while we were in awe of the views!
What to expect during landing
Once it was time to land, our pilot prompted us to stand in the landing position. This means leaning with your back against your basket compartment and outstretching your arms to hold the looped ropes in front, located inside the basket.
Now, I can only speak from this balloon landing as it’s my first ever, but the landing was SO smooth! I was expecting a big bump as we touched the ground but it wasn’t like that at all. We touched down gradually, the basket did a slow bunny-hop – like you’d imagine with gravity of the moon – before finally coming to rest.
TIP: Due to the wind direction, you’re not going to land in the same place that you took off!
What happens after the balloon ride
Once everyone had alighted from the basket, it was time to deflate the balloon. This part was interesting as we were able to walk inside the balloon and asked to help deflate it by working as a team to pull the sides together. It’s nice and toasty inside as all the hot air has risen towards the balloon’s top.
Then it’s time to work together again to roll the deflated balloon up and place it back into its storage box on the back of a ute. Many hands make light work! By this time our shuttle bus had arrived to take us back to Camden Valley Inn for our hearty breakfast.
Enjoying a post-flight breakfast
Back at Camden Valley Inn, our group was seated at a table where we discussed the exciting experience over breakfast. Earlier that morning I had selected ricotta and vanilla pancakes served with strawberries, cream, meringues and maple syrup. The serving was quite generous.
Other breakfast options included Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon or a full “CVI Breakfast” served with toast (gluten free available), baked beans, mushroom, free range bacon and eggs to your selection. Tea and coffee is included, too!
What to wear on a hot air balloon in Sydney
As I took my balloon flight during the cold Sydney winter, I wore layers to keep me warm during the early morning start (5ºC) with a scarf and a coat I could remove as the weather warmed towards breakfast time.
Balloon Aloft suggests dressing for the temperature on the ground (no matter what time of year) as it won’t feel much different at the balloon’s cruising altitude (about 1km).
Keep in mind the grass at the launch sites can be wet in the early morning. The grass in these fields can be quite long in places, dampening your pants and shoes. I wore knee-high waterproof boots and hopped through the grass like an antelope in some parts to get photos of the balloons inflating and was fine, although my friend who accompanied me wore regular sneakers that ended up being soaked through.
TIP: Don’t forget to bring sunglasses for when the sun peers out over the horizon when you’re mid-flight!
Final thoughts on my Sydney hot air balloon experience
Despite my initial hesitation, I am now so glad I took the opportunity to experience a hot air balloon in Sydney. I can honestly say any fears I had about rough landings or being cold were completely unfounded and I felt very safe in the hands of our skilled pilot.
Being in a hot air balloon and watching the sun begin a new day is a great reminder of how small we are in this big, wide world. Like helicopter flights, hot air balloons are a bit addictive and I’d now love to experience another flight in the future!
Experience hot air ballooning for yourself!
Sending a massive thanks to Klook and Balloon Aloft for gifting me such an amazing, unforgettable experience!
Now you know what to expect on a hot air balloon in Sydney, is this something you’d like to try someday? Let me know in the comments below.
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This guide to what to expect on a hot air balloon in Sydney contains some affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase and if you do, thanks for your support! This helps with the costs of running my blog so I can keep my content free for you. As always, I only recommend a product or service that I genuinely love and use myself!