The ground crew calls out to us and we line up before a portable ladder to help us climb into our basket. We also spot our pilot doing his flight checks on the various sophisticated looking equipment and firing flares into the balloon, keeping the air inside adequately warmed up to keep the balloon steady and upright.
We all board gingerly and as we take our assigned position in the basket, we are greeted by a very warm hello by our pilot (Spanish by nationality but working with Sky Waltz for many years now) who takes us through the flight briefing which subsequently manages to bring down my self admittedly first time nervousness.
Briefing over, its now take-off time. Final ayes are exchanged between the captain of our ship and and the ground crew, the loud whoosh of the flares increases in length and duration, the safety ropes are let go and I see the ground slowly go by. As we glide up I look around and catch the most amazing sunrise I have seen in a long time. The other balloons too have all taken off and visible in the distance at various heights. In ballooning, the flight path or route is dependent upon the wind direction while the pilots are in total control over ascent and descent and rotation of their respective ships. In fact we were skimming over tree tops in the rural countryside exchanging waves with the locals and shortly we were hundreds of feet up soaking in the all round views of Pushkar town and its countryside.
The flight lasted approximately sixty minutes. Our pilot spotted a good place for a landing and having exchanged location co-ordinates with the ground crew below who had been following us in their retrieval vehicles, made the most extraordinary soft landing. The ground crew had in the meantime harnessed all the safety ropes and steadied the basket for our d-boarding.
After the customary photo-ops and bidding goodbye to our friendly pilot, we were escorted by the crew to our waiting vehicles to be dropped back to our hotel.
All in all a truly great experience and thanks to Sky Waltz for a very professionally managed international product.
Few noteworthy things:
1)Balloon flights are dependent upon the weather and last minute cancellations are a possibility.
2)Kids below five years are not permitted (Children categorized between 5 to 12 Yrs)
3)While there is no upper age limit it is better to be in a reasonable state of healthfulness with no critical illnesses
4)Consumption of alcohol on board or prior to flight is not permitted
5)Experience time is approximately two hours including flight, pick up and drop
6)Book well in advance as there is a limited capacity and there is always a huge rush