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The Namib Sky Balloon Experience — Sossusvlei, Namibia

Nothing beats the excitement of doing something epic for the first time, except when just having done it and promising yourself you’ll do it again!

Namib Sky Hot Air Balloon

Sunrise Take-off
Hot Air Balloon taking off moments after sunrise.

We got up at 4:30 am that morning, to have enough time to get ready and drive to the launchpad for introductions and a safety briefing. I was excited, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect.
I’d flown in many different types of aircraft before, but ballooning was going to be a first for me. I was also excited because that flight was going to have to yield epic aerials of the region, seeing I couldn’t bring my drone with me. 
I couldn’t wait to get up there to witness the already insanely beautiful Sossusvlei Dunes from a different perspective.

So we made the 30min drive from Sesriem to the Namib Sky HQ, from where we were then transported to the field from where we were taking off. Already they had already started to unroll the balloons and tilt the baskets and invited everyone to gather around to shoot the burn tests. Those were a delight to see and a warm welcome on a very chilly morning.
The team were all so stoked to go flying, they were a real treat to meet. Everyone was already having fun and we weren’t even off the ground yet.

After the briefings and emergency drill, it was time to take off, and just on time to witness the first streaks of sunrise starting to creep over the horizon.
It was dead silent seconds before the balloon lifted off the ground. Everyone (myself included) were waiting for a jolt of some sort or a sign that we were already in the air, but suddenly the ground started to move, and there was a sense of peace and satisfaction on everyone’s face. We were already levitating and we didn’t feel a thing.

Aerial view of the Namib Desert

Lodge hidden in the mountain
Sunrise creeping over the face of a mountain casts a shadow over a lodge in Sossusvlei, one of the most memorable landscapes in the world.

Fairy Circles From the Sky

Whilst the fire kept blasting into the balloon, Manie — our pilot — spoke of the most incredible things from the region, explaining its evolution from pre-historic times and natives to the explorers that came after, who in their way changed everything below us. 

From above, it was incredible to witness the traces of water, the ways of wildlife and the inexplicable fairy circles that look like teardrops from heaven when falling on the dust below.

Road and textures
One of the roads leading to the lodges, and the textures created by shadow and light.

Sunrise over Sesriem
Mountains and shadows put on a show as the sun blasts over the horizon.

Towards the southwest
Aerial view of the Sossusvlei dunes towards the southwest; the direction in which we were flying.

As we went on flying towards the southwest, I couldn’t help but notice again how the colours and shapes of the desert are constantly changing depending on the direction and intensity of the light. You could return to the same place 4 times at different times of the day, and think you were in completely different places.

The entire flight lasted about 1 hour, where between photographs and chatty passengers, there’s always that need to pause just to check in with your soul and ask “if you’re also seeing what I’m seeing”. 
Sossusvlei does that to you. It’s too big to take in at once and when you’re soaring above all of it, it’s hard not to feel more than one thing at the same time: a sense of wonder, excitement, awe, peace and tranquillity all at once.

Towards the west
Aerial view of the Sossusvlei dunes, with the 50Km long dune corridor visible on the right.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to return to reality just yet. It was so peaceful in the sky, the sun was already high and warm, but part of the jittery excitement was still there – a clear indication that there were still a lot of photographs to be taken under different light. But around 20 minutes into the descent we made our soft landing in a field where the ground staff had already prepared a festive breakfast filled with delicious treats, good coffee and bubbly. 

Breakfast in an open desert landscape was a first for me; just another addition to the already staggering lists of firsts since I got here – and all of them pretty unique and epic.

Breakfast feast
Tables set for a delicious well-deserve breakfast in the open.

Flying with Namib Sky

Nothing beats the excitement of doing something epic for the first time, except when just having done it and promising yourself you’ll do it again! Yes, that’s how I felt when we landed.

Every flight is different because it’s all dependent on the direction of the wind. It’s a moment when you’re literally going with the flow and an experience that you absolutely cannot miss out on, due to the experience itself, to see one of the wonders of the world from above, or to experience the most epic sunrise of your entire life in one of the most epic places on the planet.

Flying over the Namibian desert in a hot air balloon is the experience of a lifetime, and though it does come with a big price tag, the benefits such as emotions, photos and memories gained from the flight definitely overweigh the costs.

Booking with them is a very straightforward process that can either be done on their website at namibsky.com or at any lodge or campsite in the area and confirmation of the flight is always done on the previous night. 
Flying is also an additional option to any tour package that you’re currently on, as it doesn’t really interfere with the planned itinerary, but should this be the case, I’d recommend leaving it for the morning in which you leave the area as it’s something you can do before hitting the road.