What You Need to Know About Hot Air Balloon Flights in India

Hot air balloons in Pushkar, India.
••• Hot air balloons in Pushkar, India. Jeremy Woodhouse/Getty Images

Hot air ballooning is a relatively new adventure activity in India, but one that's fast growing in popularity. It's a thrilling way to experience India and get a different perspective of the country.

Imagine having a calm and peaceful view of India's breathtaking scenery from a quiet place high above the crowds. Hot air ballooning isn't as scary as you may imagine either. It actually feels like you're as light as a feather as you float through the sky.

It's an experience of a lifetime! And, doing it in India makes it all the more exciting and memorable.

Where Can You Go Ballooning?

The desert state of Rajasthan is the most popular place for hot air ballooning in India. Flights operate from the Pink City of Jaipur, the holy town of Pushkar, sandstone city of Jaisalmer, Blue City of Jodhpur, romantic Udaipur, and Ranthambore National Park . View wild animals at Ranthambore from the safety of a hot air balloon, or get a bird's eye view of the Pushkar Camel Fair!  The annual Pushkar International Balloon Festival takes place during the Camel Fair.  Other festivals in Rajasthan where there's now hot air ballooning are the Jaisalmer Desert Festival and Nagaur Fair. An annual Taj Balloon Festival is held in Agra in November as well.

Elsewhere in India, there are balloon flights at Lonavala in Maharashtra, Hampi in Karnataka, and Neemrana near Delhi.

Hot air balloon fights have also started operating in Goa, and are in high demand. Flights take off from Chandor in south Goa.

In addition, during the tourist season, there are hot air balloons near Manali in India's northern state of Himachal Pradesh. However, the balloons remain tethered to the ground.

Reputable Companies that Offer Ballooning

Hot air ballooning in India is strictly regulated by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. As a result, only a couple of companies have been able to meet the requirements and get a license to operate throughout India.

The leading company that provides hot air balloon flights in India is Sky Waltz. The company's flights are operated by fully qualified and experienced international pilots from the UK and USA.

Tiger Balloon Safaris is also reputable and offers hot air ballooning in Rajasthan, Hampi, and Goa (they have a separate website for their Goa operations).

Wanderlust Travels organizes 2 night/3 day balloon flight packages.

How Much Does a Balloon Flight Cost?

Unfortunately, hot air ballooning isn't cheap! Expect to pay 11,000-13,000 rupees per adult, per flight. Children are about half this price. Flights usually last for a hour.

There are a few reasons for the high price. Firstly, it's really expensive to buy a hot air balloon. There's also a limit on the amount of time a balloon can fly before it needs to be replaced -- typically, 400-600 hours, depending on how well the balloon is maintained and its passenger load. Hot air balloons require propane for their burners to heat the air.

This contributes 10-20% of operating expenses. Other costs include ongoing pilot training, crew, and equipment to carry the balloon. It all adds up to a significant amount. Since the number of passengers per flight is restricted, along with the number of flights that can be undertaken in a day, the price per person has to be high to make it a profitable business.

When is the Best Time?

Balloon flights mostly operate from September to the end of March, while the weather is dry and not too hot. If there's enough demand, the season can be extended up until June. In Goa, it runs from October until May.

The flights leave early in the morning as the sun rises, and also in the evening before sunset. You should plan to set aside around 4 hours for your flight, including travel to and from your hotel.

The ballooning company will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to where the flight will depart from.

What Clothing Should Be Worn?

Hot air ballooning is an adventure activity, so do wear sturdy footwear. Depending on the time of year you go, a jacket might also be necessary as it can get chilly early in the morning. A cap and sunglasses may come in handy too.