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'We never know where we will land and we have never landed in the same place twice,’ Paul McPherson, the Aussie chief of operations, said as we watched our balloon inflate. So with that I decided to trust the winds and more importantly, trust the British pilot David. Our flight took off from a cricket pitch near Amber. As we ascended, the full majesty of Rajasthan was revealed. We flew over the ancient Aravalli mountain range with the Amber fortress palace as our backdrop, and floated across step-wells, temples and villages with farmers tending to their fields. Children squealed with delight and chased the shadow of the balloon. We reached 2,600 feet and skirted just inches over treetops and I enjoyed every thrilling moment of our 60-minute safari. Our landing was greeted with hundreds of villagers excited to see a balloon for the first time, and a support team of jeeps, who had been in radio contact with the pilot. An absolutely must-do experience for anyone and everyone visiting Rajasthan.
The ballooning season runs from early September to the end of April and the most commonly used launch site is the one near Amber. The Samode Village site is only available if there is a full basket, however, it is worth checking as it enables you to breakfast at the stunning Samode Palace Hotel post flight.
Flights take off between 6am and 7.30am and between 3.30pm and 4.30pm, allow about three to four hours for the door-to-door experience. The price is around 15,500 per person, ($USD250) which includes transfers, refresh- ments and a certificate. Sky Waltz is a world-class operation adhering to inter- national safety standards with senior international pilots. From a handful of passengers when they started in 2007, the company now flies close to 5,000 passengers each season across their operations.
As well as Jaipur, Sky Waltz has daily flights in Ranthambore and organises the Pushkar International Balloon Festival, which takes place in November to coincide with the annual Camel Fair. Exclusive charter flights are available for special occasions such as wedding proposals when the basket is adorned with marigolds and jasmine flowers and the balloon can fly past with ‘will you marry me?’ banners. Sky Waltz is proud of a 100% acceptance record to date.