In Namibia we camped at Sossusvlei, this is one of Namibia’s highlights in the heart of the Namib desert, is an enormous clay-pan, enclosed by mighty sand dunes. Some of the spectacular hills of sand reach a height of 300 metres, and therefore, belong to the highest in the world. Only after a heavy rainfall, which is very seldom in this area, does the vlei fill with water. However, as the clay layers are hardly impervious to water, a turquoise lake remains for quite some time.
After unloading all the balloon equipment, the balloon is stretched vertically and all the supports and cables to the basket are attached to it, then the fan is set to blow air into the “mouth” of the balloon.
After opening the mouth of the balloon, the fan is turned on, and the balloon is inflated with cold air. The Crew holds open the mouth of the balloon until there is enough air for the pilot to begin heating it with the “burners”.
Once the Balloon is inflated with cold air, the pilot will begin to the heat the air with the burners so that the balloon will lift itself into the upright position, so that the passengers may board with the pilot’s permission.
Once the Pilot has heated the air within the balloon’s “envelope,” the balloon gets itself upright. Then the passengers board with the pilots permission and the pilot heats the air a bit more to raise the balloon into the air.
Is was still quite cold, early in the morning as we took of. The balloon is gracefully lifted into the air. You will feel no turbulence as the balloon is gently carried with the wind. During the Flight, in order to stay aloft, the Pilot must burn every few minutes to keep the air in the balloon’s envelope hot enough to keep the balloon buoyant. We flew over the desert, the shadow of our balloon followed us. At the height of a hundred feet, one drifts quietly over a sea of dunes.
The first sunrays dip the desert into a magic warm, reddish light. After about an hour the pilot started looking for a place to land. Well in the Namib that is not a problem, he was searching for the pace car who had followed us and after a slow descent we came down. The basket tipped over en we climbed out.
It was absolutely quiet in the desert, so calm and so peaceful. But the silence was disturbed by the pace car who arrived, they set the table, the champagne was opened and we had breakfast. A breakfast I will never forget, talk about a room with a view !
We had a grand day !
PS: If you like something even more exhilarating go QUAD biking
Who can say
“I lost my clutch in the Namib desert”
Well, I can !
Wikipedia and Pixabay, files made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.
Hot air balloon image by Gerhild Klinkow from Pixabay