Part 5 of 6
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A hot air balloon ride in Marrakech is truly a bucket list experience and something you HAVE to do when visiting Morocco. A hot air balloon ride is one of the most serene, even romantic activities that a traveller can participate in. It immerses you into a different level of perspective that will leave you breathless and in awe. It’s a truly memorable experience as you soar over the foothills of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains on a sunrise hot air balloon ride before touching down for a freshly prepared Berber breakfast.
Since this was a sunrise experience, naturally it was going to start early! Thankfully, since we were visiting Marrakech in March, the sun rises later so we didn’t have to get the “normal” pick-up time of 4.45am; instead we were picked up at 6.30am! A van was waiting for us and we hopped in and headed to our destination. The drive took around an hour, but didn’t feel too long since we were super excited!
Once we arrived, there was a table set up with coffee, tea, pastries and juice. This was a welcome start and they even had two fires burning to help stay heated (it gets cold in the morning in March). We grabbed some coffee and a pastry and huddled around the fire whilst watching the hot air balloon fill with air. This was actually fascinating; it’s crazy to think, “Wow, I’m going up in that!”
After around a 25-minute wait, we headed to the balloon and made our way into the basket. I held my breath as the balloon lifted off the ground. The take-off was so gentle you wouldn’t have even known we left the ground if you didn’t look down. This initial feeling is very surreal. You may feel like you’re in some kind of a dream, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how gentle the floating sensation of being in the balloon is.
The flight begins slowly but as it flies higher and higher you can slightly see the sun start to rise in the horizon. By this time, the hot air balloon is at a high altitude and the clouds start disappearing to leave room for the sun. Although it was a pretty dull day, the first beams of sunlight still managed to penetrate the thick cloud layer. It was breathtaking and I couldn’t quite believe we were actually hot air ballooning in Morocco. The views that surround you are AMAZING. You’re greeted with views of the Atlas Mountains (the second highest mountain range in Africa), Marrakech city itself and the Agafay desert. It’s truly amazing.
The Moroccan landscape is something I’d describe as otherworldly. It doesn’t have the complex rock formations or the balloon traffic of Cappadocia in Turkey (in fact, during our schedule, there were only four or five other balloons afloat), but it brings you somewhere unfamiliar. The reddish earth made us feel as if we were hovering around the Martian grounds, only to be reminded later that we were still on Earth because of some patches of olive farms and grazing goats.
Though we had actually been up peacefully floating for nearly an hour, I wasn’t quite ready to tear my eyes away from the beauty of it all when we started descending. For landing, you sit down and hold onto the straps. This was a fun experience as you can’t really see out of the basket, so you’re wondering when you’re going to hit the ground but we hardly felt a thing.
Once the team packed up the balloon and basket, we were driven back to where we had begun our balloon ride for a proper Berber breakfast. Breads, both sweet and savory, filled the table alongside an assortment of jams, oils and honeys. Steaming glasses of mint tea were poured. We certainly did not leave hungry. Each of us were given a “flight certificate” with our names, which was a pretty cool token actually.
To travellers who are thinking of adding this activity to their bucket list, I highly recommend going for it because it is a one-of-a-kind experience. You should do this activity at least once in your lifetime because it really promotes an immersive experience. Being adrift and seeing the view with your own eyes are things that are best left experienced rather than described.
I would like to thank Take a Break Travel for this fun and memorable trip to Morocco. Thank you for your organisation of the tour as all six of us had a fantastic time. Our driver Khalid was lovely, very professional and polite, and everything was arranged professionally and worked out well for us even in these difficult times.