Up up and away with Sundance Balloons!
Who said that you had to travel abroad to fulfill your bucketlist? Yes, if you look, you can find it right at home and it is just as rewarding as if you travelled abroad.
High up on my list of adventures to do was hot air ballooning. While it is true that I did envision fulfilling this dream while ballooning over a vineyard in Italy, or high above the Grand Canyon, I am just as happy to have had this fantastic experience right here in Ontario with Sundance Balloons. Ontario offers so many activities and adventures and a hot air balloon ride must be added to the list.
About Sundance Balloons
Sundance Balloons has its head office in London, Ontario, and has flown over 30,000 passengers across Canada. Since beginning its operation in 1985, Sundance Balloons has grown to be one of the world’s largest hot air balloon operators, offering flights in cities across Canada:
- Calgary, Alberta
- Edmonton, Alberta
- Grand Prairie, Alberta
- Toronto Area
- Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario
- London, Ontario
- Ottawa, Ontario
- Regina, Saskatchewan
- Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- Winnepeg, Manitoba
Because of the weather in Canada, flights are only offered between May and October.
Booking Your Hot Air Balloon Adventure
Booking your hot air balloon adventure with Sundance Balloons is as easy as 1, 2, 3. You can either book online or call and book over the phone.
Tip: I recommend booking your hot air balloon adventure at least one month in advance
You can book a flight for one and join other adventurers, you can book the entire balloon, or you can book a private flight if it is romance you are looking for. Given that I am a solo traveller, I booked my flight for one and I joined nine other passengers on this adventure.
When considering going on a hot air balloon adventure, you must decide whether you want to take a sunrise or sunset flight. I’m definitely not a morning person, but my adventure began at 7:00.
Immediately after you book your flight, you will receive an email confirmation with your flight date and time, as well as an instruction sheet, waiver form (bring this with you on the day of the flight), and newly added is the COVID questionnaire, which is also to be brought with you on the day of your flight.
Preparing for Your Hot Air Balloon Adventure
Confirming Your Hot Air Balloon Adventure
In the instructions you receive upon booking, you will be given the telephone number for the flight line. If you a.re taking a morning flight, you will be instructed to call the number after 11:00 p.m. on the night before. If taking an evening flight, you will be instructed to call after 2:15 p.m. on the day of the flight. At this time you will be given confirmation as to whether your flight will be taking off, based on the weather (more on this below), as well as the meeting place for take-off.
My adventure was from the Kitchener-Waterloo area, and there are 3 places that the captain can choose to depart from. The departure spot and time is given when placing your call to the flight line.
Cancellation of Hot Air Balloon Adventure
Safety is always the primary concern, and if the weather isn’t perfect your hot air balloon adventure will be cancelled. Unfortunately, the weather in Canada is extremely unpredictable and flights are often cancelled. The status of your scheduled flight will be determined before the designated time for calling the flight center.
If your hot air balloon is cancelled due to unsatisfactory weather, you will need to call to re-schedule.
What Weather Conditions are needed for a Hot Air Balloon Ride?
In order for a flight proceed as scheduled, the winds must be less than 10 knots, with no rain or approaching storms. Flights also require a visibility of at least 4 kilometres (2.48 miles).
What to Wear and What to Bring on Your Hot Air Balloon Adventure
I am pretty sure that it is safe to assume that not all of us have taken flight in an open-air basket over 7,000 feet in air before and we may wonder what to wear when going on this adventure. I have only two recommendations on how to dress for a hot air balloon adventure:
- Dress in layers;
- Do not wear flip flops or heeled shoes. Running shoes are best;
- If you are sensitive to sun, bring a hat;
- Bring completed waiver form that is provided in your confirmation email;
- Bring completed COVID form which is provided in your confirmation email; and
- Bring a camera to capture the breath-taking views from above.
This will also be addressed in the information sheet that you will receive from Sundance Balloons when you book or you can find more information on their website.
COVID-19 Precautions Taken by Sundance Balloons
Like all businesses in Canada, the government has placed COVID-19 conditions and restrictions on hot air balloon adventures in order to keep employees and guests safe. Sundance Balloons has introduced the following precautions:
- Each passenger must complete a COVID-19 questionnaire which is provided with your confirmation email;
- The number of guests has been reduced to 8, plus the pilot (usually it is 10 guests, plus the pilot);
- Plastic barriers have been installed to separate passengers;
- Post flight Champaign has been temporarily postponed;
- Guests must wear face masks.
My Hot Air Balloon Adventure
Arrival for Hot Air Balloon Adventure
I was scheduled for a sunrise flight from Kitchener-Waterloo which has 3 departure locations:
- Victoria Park
- Concordia Club
- Waterloo Rod & Gun Club
When I contacted the flight line the night before, I was advised that my flight would be departing and I was to be at the Waterloo Rod & Gun Club by 7:00 a.m. the next morning.
Upon arrival, I checked in with a member of the flight crew and gave him my waiver form and COVID questionnaire. I then waited until all passengers arrived and I watched one of the hot air balloons being fired up for a private flight.
The flight crew are the employees who remain on the ground during the flight and follow the hot air balloon to meet it at the landing site.
Hot Air Balloon Departure
Once all passengers had arrived and checked in, we were given a safety briefing and the hot air balloon that I would be riding in was fired up and ready for departure.
Once the air in the balloon reaches a certain limit, we climbed in the basket where the pilot continued to use the fire to blow up the balloon even more.
The pilot releases fire into the balloon approximately every 2 minutes throughout the flight.
I was curious to see what the views would be like from up above, as we were departing from a city. I expected to see city streets, houses and high-rise buildings, but I was pleasantly surprised to see farmland as far as the eye could see, as well as forests and numerous streams. The scenery was spectacular and out of this world!
Hot Air Balloon Flight
The pilot said that the weather conditions for my flight were absolutely perfect and we were able to do tree-tops and water-dips throughout the flight. The hot air balloon was lowered enough for us to grab leaves from tree branches and it was lowered even further so that we skimmed the water of the river. It was so clear that we could see the bottom. The highest we flew during our 1 hour flight was approximately 2,500 feet.
At the end of our hour flight, we landed in a farmer’s field. The landing was so smooth that you didn’t even feel a bump.
The flight crew were on the ground to meet us, as was the Mennonite family whose field we landed in. The flight crew packed up the hot air balloon while we chatted with the Mennonite family and had some pictures taken.
Once everything was packed up, we all loaded into the van and were transported back to our departure location. It is at this point that we normally would have had our Champaign toast, but instead we all went on our merry way.
Check That One Off My Bucketlist
This adventure had been on my bucketlist forever, and while I had always dreamed of having this adventure somewhere abroad, I am more than happy that I was able to do it right here at home. If you are afraid of heights, not to worry so am I. The pilot will keep you entertained, not to mention you will be so immersed in the beauty below you, that you will not even notice that you are in the air.
Taking a ride on a hot air balloon is one adventure that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves beauty and adventures and I can’t wait to do it again!
SAFE ADVENTURES 🙂
This is not a sponsored post. As always, all opinions are more own and I will always be explicit if any of the content is subsidized or sponsored.