On the 25th of October Daniele, Lorenzo and I went to experience a Hot Air Balloon ride over the Dubai desert.
We were staying at our beautiful Al Maha Desert Resort, not far from the actual take off location.
Alarm at 4.30 am to get ready, have a quick but exquisite served in room breakfast and ready to be picked up by our shuttle driver to get to the designated location.
We arrived right at the first glimmer of the sunrise, while very slowly the light began to light up the morning.
The driver parked, we left all our belongings, backpacks in there and kept with us only cameras and phones to be more comfortable.
While a big team of people were preparing and arranging the balloons and their baskets our pilot and copilot were giving us a briefing of rules and instructions to keep in mind while flying but specially for the landing.
Each basket, so each hot air balloon, can fit about 20 people divided in 4 sections of the basket, placed at the corners to keep the balance of the whole structure.
That was my first time flying on a hot air balloon.
After about 45 mins from our arrival the balloon took off ascending in the sky.
The twilight of that morning was particularly intense, the first minutes of the flight presented like this.
Pilot and copilot with the support of technology were focused on finding the perfect wind current for the perfect flight.
The upward thrust provided by a balloon depends mainly on the difference between the outside temperature and the air contained in the balloon. This means that, as all other conditions being equal, on a hot day the hot-air balloon will have less upward thrust compared to a cool or cold day: for this reason the take-offs of hot air balloons usually take place during the cold hours (at night, before dawn or at sunrise). This also avoids the frequent thermal movements during the day, which make the balloon particularly difficult to control.
Once the sun light started brightening up the view, the landscape revealed to us incredibly magnificent.
Balloon Adventures Dubai pioneered a totally new concept in both ballooning and falconry.
On board of our balloon we had Tesla a peregrine falcon with his falconer flying around to show us his audacity. It was spectacular to watch him fly up in the air while checking the surroundings.
Falconry is one of the oldest traditions of the Arab Emirates: originally the hawks were used only for hunting but in recent years the training activity has become a very popular sport.
While the training techniques have remained substantially unchanged, the spread of falconry has brought a series of innovations in the treatment of birds of prey: in Dubai there is a clinic dedicated exclusively to these animals, the Dubai Falcon Hospital, where falcons are inserted with chips under the skin, applied a number to the paw and, on some, installed a satellite transmitter to follow the migratory flows.
In the Arab Emirates the hawks have even reserved seats in the airplanes.
The hot air balloons were swinging up and down getting closer and moving away from the desert in a gentle dance.
Almost at the end of our journey the flight took us above some green oasis, some part of the Royal Family Properties in the Dubai Desert.
After an hour of relaxing and panoramic flight we were going to land, anchored properly to the basket, we prepared for the maneuver.
Sometimes the landing could be more impactful than other times, this is why the briefing we had before departing is important.
In our case the pilots succeed a perfect soft and gentle landing, taking us back on the desert ground safe and sound.
Our driver was waiting there for us ready to take us to the designated location where through the dunes we would have driven in vintage Land Rovers, the first introduced in the desert environment in 1948, to an authentic Heritage camp in a Royal desert retreat for a rich breakfast
Finally we arrived at the camp where we had energetic international and local breakfast and head back to our desert resort.