#lockdown escape: Hot air balloon flight & camel ride outside Marrakesh in Morocco
We went straight from The Oasis Music Festival at 3.30am to our pick-up point to head for the desert – who needs sleep anyway? On arrival it was time for coffee & croissant (very French) in a beautiful Berber tent (very Aladdin), whilst the crew cranked up the burners to fill the balloon and get everything ready for take off. Our aim? Hitting 1000m altitude to watch the sun rise over the Atlas Mountains – magical! The man to take us up there is called Ya-Ya for a nickname, and happens to be the youngest hot air balloon pilot in Morocco…we were wondering if that was a good thing or not? Anyway, he was super charismatic and never short of a joke, as some on board found the whole experience a bit much to comprehend: open air, altitude, just a wicker basket holding us… you can imagine the rest.
The reward was a mind-blowing sunrise in eerie silence, which was quite humbling…until Ya-Ya played the Lion King’s theme song, and we all fell about with laughter. Explaining what all the different ropes were about to manoeuvre the balloon was really interesting, as you can’t ‘fly’ a balloon like a plane. Excellent stuff…before we knew it, the first balloon from our group had already landed, when it was our turn.
The 45 minutes flight, up in the open air, literally flew by. The 4x4s had already driven out into the fields, where we were expected to land. And then, the pilot announced, that he’s going to land the balloon on the trailer for us! We all looked at him in complete disbelief – and yes, the first attempt was aborted, Ya-Ya was not happy with certain aspects of the landing, so he yanked the burner up once more and we took off again. The second time around, he performed a text-book-landing, and we couldn’t believe our eyes and what had just happened. Watch the vid to see for yourself and the start dreaming about where to go on holiday first, once lockdown is over…a total no-brainer, of course!
TA-DAH.TV Go Hot Air Ballooning in Marrakech!
What an amazing trip we had there! Straight from The Oasis Music Festival out to the desert
between Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains for a once in a lifetime adventure: hot air
ballooning to watch the sunrise over the mountains at 1000m altitude…and riding camels!
Not everybody was at ease with it all, as some of our fellow passengers thought this trip
could be quite scary. But the scintillating views and beautiful silence, once up in the air,
soon got us all relaxed, feeling quite chilled actually!
Hot Air Ballooning
We first travelled into the desert just outside of Marrakech, which was located at the feet of
the stunning Atlas Mountains. Once we had all settled down for coffee & croissants or fresh
peppermint tea inside the traditional Berber tents, tensions began to ease and the jokes
started doing their rounds – yep, we were going to be just fine! With the food now warming
our bodies, we were introduced to Morocco’s youngest hot-air balloon pilot; his nickname
being Ya-Ya! Alongside 12 other , by now buzzing, travellers from France, Ireland, Germany,
England, and America, Ya-Ya welcomed us onto his hot-air balloon after the the crew had
checked and prepared the so-called ‘envelopes’, the proper terminology for the actual
balloon. Ours was just one of 10 flights to take off at 6.30AM! We were asked to crouch
down for take-off, which we couldn’t understand at first. But then, this is all open-air, and
whilst standing up sounds cool, it isn’t cool when people start bringing their breakfast back
up, so we all got the drift. As the balloon started to gain height and momentum, we were all
so excited but still slightly nervous at the same time – this was a major first for all of us!
What none of us expected, however, was the eerie silence that was to follow once we were
at 1000m altitude. We were all speechless in sheer admiration of the 360 view we had of
the desert, mountains, and skyline – truly incomparable. And then, to get us back in full
voice, Ya-Ya began to play the Lion King theme song whilst the sun rose, which was just
hilarious! It had us in stitches! As well as providing humour, Ya-Ya then showed us his
talents by landing the balloon perfectly on the trailer at the back of the 4×4. Didn’t quite
work out the first time round, but the second landing was proper text-book stuff. Once back
on solid ground, we were ‘awarded’ our certificate, so it’s official: we all survived…and so
that our friends had proof we weren’t telling them any porkies. With our Western names
written in Arabic, we thought it was quite a cool thing to walk away with, before the 4x4s
took us back to base camp through the gritty fields and rough terrain, being shaken about
from left to right. Ya-Ya’s final contribution: ‘Guys, it’s what we call a perfect Berber
From our base at the Berber tent, we then got taken for another ride – a camel ride, to be
precise. Our next mode of transport was much closer to the ground…and had 4 legs, thank
god. Wondering what would be more frightening: a hot air balloon flight or a camel ride (on
a living thing), we finally arrived at our destination, a lot closer to Marrakesh. My camel was
called Daisy – quite contrary to her mannerisms! We all had a complete laugh bumping up
and down on the camel’s backs whilst they strutted their stuff across the terrain! Although
the camels were extremely well behaved, some of the passengers were quite scared, as this ‘machine’ seemed to have its own mind, although there was absolutely no need to fear.
There’s something rather entertaining about the concept of surrendering your livelihood to
a camel that you’ve just met, it merely adds to the fun and excitement! By the time that we
had to leave, some of us grew quite fond of our camels, realising that after all, they really
are quite good natured ‘beasts’. I ‘kissed’ Daisy good-bye and before we knew it, some of us
had already burnt, as the sun was extremely hot by mid-day – so we advise taking some
factor 50 if you wish to live through this experience unscathed! After all, we really would
recommend a trip like this – it was an adventure of a life time and definitely one to tick off
the bucket list!
So, whilst on extended lockdown, we hope you’re all staying sane and safe through these
unprecedented times. TA-DAH.TV wish you all the best, good health and keep supporting
each other! But above all: start planning your next adventure or holiday trip now, so you’ve
got something to look forward to, once lockdown is over…have fun!
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