Walking across the iconic Charles Bridge while in the historic city of Prague is a thing on everyone’s bucket list. Seeing the magnificent Prague Castle is another. But gliding through the Bohemian skies to have a glimpse of all the castles and landmarks the city has to offer within an hour takes the entire experience many notches higher, pun intended.
Balloon rides have become a craze in the Czech capital lately, for tourists as well as locals. Several operators have sprung up, offering a complete package — including two-way hotel transfers. During a recent trip, I signed up with Balloon Adventures for a ride across Prague.
Our flight location, Chateau Konopiste is just 40 minutes south-east of Prague. As we were transferred to the “launch site”, we witnessed the gigantic balloon being inflated with hot air in preparation for the ride. In the meantime, we posed for selfies in the open meadows and captured the green meadows on our cameras as well. But the best views were yet to come, as the ensuing ride unfolded.
As we took off, six of us in the balloon basket besides the pilot and the co-pilot, the balloon shook a bit before it attained a balance and started to glide smoothly. First we touched the tree-tops, then we flew all the way up above clouds. And that is when one realises the utter beauty of the view on all sides.
The Czech Republic is quite rich in its landscape. Besides the Konopiste Chateau and other minor castles, chateaus and castle ruins, we got a great perspective on river meanders, forests, grass fields, farms and the overall hilly countryside within the central Bohemian Region. The area is also quite rich for animals such as deer, wild pigs or rabbits.
As the flight stabilised and the balloon started to meander along its own course, our pilot started chatting up. He informed us that the altitude of a balloon changes during the flight. While the standard cruising altitude is about 1,000 feet (300 m), we go as low as 50 m (150 feet) or as high as 1,5 km (5000 feet).
He also explained that balloon flights are operated in calm weather conditions, which typically occur early in the morning and late in the afternoons. Therefore, we call them sunrise or sunset balloon flights.
In ballooning, the timing of a flight is not so strict as it is an activity where you basically become part of the nature. The pilot also revealed that within the hour of flight, they always cross a different distance, as the balloon is only carried by the wind. The stronger the wind is, the further we fly and vice-versa.
Each flight takes around 60 minutes and the overall activity, including hotel transfers lasts around 3-4 hours. Once we touched down, there was a champagne ceremony to celebrate our successful landing, followed by flight certificates bearing our names.