Hot air ballooning at Bill Harrops

Hot Air Ballooning Over South Africa

I have a terrible cold, my second in a month. (How is this even possible?) The last thing I felt like doing this morning was waking up at 4:30 a.m. and driving more than an hour through the cold winter darkness.

I did that anyway though, because one can’t pass up a chance to go hot air ballooning through the Magaliesburg Mountains at sunrise.

This week the South African National Hot Air Balloon Championships are happening at Bill Harrop’s Original Balloon Safaris in Skeerpoort, near Magaliesburg. I was invited as part of a media contingent to photograph part of the competition — from the vantage point of our own media balloon.

Balloons getting ready at Bill Harrop'sBalloons prepare for the air at the start of this morning’s competition.

I took a Bill Harrop’s balloon safari once before and blogged about it. I won’t repeat myself now, other than to reiterate that taking a balloon ride over the Magaliesburg is one of the coolest tourism experiences in this area. It’s worth the price — around R2000-R2500, or $150-$185, depending on the package.

Anyway, today I just want to show you this morning’s pictures.

Up in the Air at Bill Harrop’s

Balloons inflating at Bill Harrop'sWaiting for the balloons to inflate on a frosty-cold June morning.

Inside a hot air balloonLooking inside our balloon as it inflates.

Bill Harrop inflating balloonThe jaunty Bill Harrop himself blows some hot air up into the balloon.

Balloons ready to fly
Almost ready to fly.

Looking out over the MagaliesburgUp in the air.

Inside of balloon Looking up.

Balloons in the airThe championship competitors. The balloon pilots participate in a variety of different competitions, which today involved tossing markers out of the balloons mid-flight and trying to hit a target on the ground.

Balloons in the airMore balloons.

More balloonsAnd more.

Balloon shadowBalloon shadow.

Balloon deflatingBack on the ground, looking up at our balloon as a Bill Harrop’s staff member deflates it.

Thanks so much to Bill Harrop and his team for the fun morning. Learn more about the Balloon and Airship Federation of South Africa (BAFSA) and the SA National Hot Air Balloon Championships here.

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17 Comments

  • Reply autumnashbough June 25, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    AH, so the competition is to show markers, demonstrating an ability to pilot accurately. I was wondering how balloonist could compete. Do they win anything?

    • Reply 2summers June 25, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      I think the only prize is glory ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Sarah Bauling July 2, 2018 at 7:36 am

      Apart from bragging rights the winner will represent South Africa at the World Hot Air Ballooning Championships in 2020. The world champs is held every 2 years, so the 2018 and 2019 winner will represent SA in 2020!

      • Reply 2summers July 2, 2018 at 8:32 am

        Oh cool!

  • Reply dizzylexa June 25, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    I wish I had the guts to do this but I do like my feet firmly on Mother Earth. Wonderful photo’s.

    • Reply 2summers June 25, 2018 at 4:32 pm

      Hahaha. You’re right, it’s not for everyone I guess. I love it so much!

  • Reply GoingSomewhereSlowly (@AnjeRautenbach) June 25, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Ahhhh these photos! Love the colours of balloon!

    • Reply 2summers June 25, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Alison Simon June 25, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    You have to admit: that’s a lovely way to wake up in the morning!!

    • Reply 2summers June 25, 2018 at 5:52 pm

      It was! But I did have to wake up two hours earlier and brave a long drive on very dark and dangerous roads. The best way to do this is to stay overnight somewhere nearby ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply jeaniehhi June 25, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    I would have loved it. Sorry to have missed it although 4:30 AM doesnโ€™t appeal to me either.

    • Reply 2summers June 25, 2018 at 7:10 pm

      Yeah, maybe we can do it together another time in summer ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply 2summers June 25, 2018 at 7:11 pm

      Oh but actually in summer you have to wake up even earlier because the sun rises earlier.

  • Reply Rosemary June 25, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    Consider VitaminD3 2000iu two or three times a week. I think our exposure to sunlight can be erratic even in South Africa. (i have not had a cold for over a year now – touch wood). Lovely photos. Amazed at how expensive SA has become.

    • Reply 2summers June 25, 2018 at 8:11 pm

      Thank you for the tip. At this point Iโ€™ll try anything.

  • Reply Andy Meldrum June 26, 2018 at 2:37 pm

    Fab photos! I can feel the cold morning winter air. I bet it gave you a great start to the day.

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