Hot air balloon in Goa
January 1, 1970
by Tatiana Varfolomeeva
What to see in Goa
India and especially Goa attracts many travelers. Everybody knows Goa as a party place where you can stay near the beach, relax and enjoy life. There’re also a lot of places to see and explore – national parks like Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park, Catholic churches – Basilica of Bom Jesus, Sé Catedral of Goa- the heritage of Portugees, temples – Tambdi Surla Mahadev temple.
But if you’re looking for something extraordinary, choose a hot air balloon trip. You’ll have a chance to see Goa from the high above, 2500 feet above the ground to be exact. It’s a romantic and peaceful experience. The place is situated in South Goa, near the small village called Chandor where you get early morning – around 7 am before the sunrise.
Preparations for the flight
I had to wake up early at 4 am as my place was far away from the pickup point. It was interesting and exciting for me. I looked at the dark streets through the car window and tried to imagine how it feels like to be in the air. I wasn’t afraid of being high in the sky, just was super emotional about taking photos which were supposed to be beautiful. The first thing I saw was the half-inflated balloon, many people around and beautiful misty skies.
The flights are supposed to be held two times a day – in the morning and in the evening. But in the afternoon the weather too unpredictable, the wind can be too strong, so the morning is the perfect timing for the tour. Once you’re on the big field you can watch the whole procedure of balloon inflating. In the morning light, it looks so huge and mysterious. You can see the lights of fire filling in the balloon. You are being a part of a whole process. It takes about 30-40 minutes to inflate the balloon.
Just to give a slight idea how it works- the hot air balloon consists of three parts: an envelope, a burner, and a basket. The burner unit gasifies liquid propane, mixes it with air, ignites the mixture, and directs the flame and exhaust into the mouth of the envelope. So the burner is switched on and the fire goes inside. So we were watching this procedure and could feel the warmth of the fire. The envelope got bigger and bigger and got up in the air. Now it was time to get inside the basket. Baskets are commonly made of rattan. These materials are light, strong, and durable for balloon flight. The basket looked big and stable. The size is big enough, there were 7 people altogether including our pilot, Trisha from the Netherlands. She told us that she has completed the specialized flying course to have a right to ride a balloon. It takes time and dedication. You have to pass the exams which meteorology, aerostatics, navigation. Therefore you should be a professional to ride a balloon.
Up in the sky
Finally, everything was ready for the flight; the envelope was fully inflated, so it was time to start the journey. The balloon slowly got up in the air in the brightening sky.
A few minutes later after the balloon was high in the sky we watched the sunrise – the red ball going up in the sky. The Goan weather this time of the year supposes some kind of a mist but it was even more interesting to watch the sun going out of nowhere. And lately, this mist gave beautiful orange-pink pastel colors. We could enjoy the complete silence and the early birds singing. We were passing by the fields, the palm trees forests, and the river. People were going outside to wave and to say hello as the balloon was passing by. It’s a scene from some fairy tale when the whole world seems to be happy to see you and welcomes you in different ways.
We kept our way being carried away by the wind and passed by Chandor. The church Nossa de Belem in the rays of the morning sun, the kids playing football on the playground, the crosses of Mount Mary Chapel just near the basket, the railways in the rays of the morning light. I enjoyed every minute there – a fresh breeze, the views, the sounds, the colors.
We were able to see our route from navigator installed. The wind wasn’t strong that day so it was almost a straight line and the speed was absolutely comfortable – not very fast and not very slow.
The direction of hot air balloon can’t be changed, you can’t turn left or right like you do it in the car. The only option is to go up or down by actuating a burner. So you’re only depending on the will of the wind and the universe. Trisha said that there’re different options where you may land. There are certain spots where the balloon can be landed. If the wind is strong, you’ll need a bigger space for landing, thus the field should be open. Sometimes you have to hit the palm trees, she said, to knock off the speed. If the wind isn’t strong like it was the day we traveled a small field would be fine. The crew follows the route of the balloon carefully scanning the terrain. They arrive at the field before balloon landing to arrange everything.
The time flew so fast and it was almost an hour we spent in the air. It was time to finish our journey and to watch another exciting part – landing. The crew was already expecting us on an empty filled outside Chandor and ready to pull the basket down on the ground. As there was no wind the landing was very slow and comfortable. We all even had a chance to stay inside the basket while the envelope was going down on the ground. And the basket was slowing moving on the side too. We went out safe and happy, so it was almost the end of our fascinating experience. We stayed for a while in the morning sun talking about life in Goa and travels. Meanwhile, the crew was deflating the envelope and the big thing disappeared again on the ground. The local kids came to watch the whole procedure, were running around, touching the balloon and having fun. And all these small details made this day, the very beginning of the day so nice. So if you’re looking for fascinating experience, you definitely should be there in Goa for hot air balloon trip.