Raquel and I have a particular Valentines tradition which entails that every year we alternate who organizes Valentine’s Day and associated gifts. I get a lot of frowns from people who think I’m not being romantic enough, but our arrangement works well.
Last year I organized a weekend trip to the Drakensberg which included a side trip to Sani Pass and Lesotho, which I wrote about in this post. At the time with the stresses of job hunting it was a welcome respite and a little trip we thoroughly enjoyed.
This year, the responsibility to organize our Valentine’s Day Festivities was on Raquel and boy did she not disappoint! When I got home on Valentine’s Friday (with bouquet of flowers for those who think I don’t treat my amazing wife), she had left the following for me:
The message was a hot air balloon trip voucher over the Magalies River Valley. Both of us have spoken about doing a hot air balloon trip as some point or other (with our dream being ballooning in Cappadocia in Turkey). I was incredibly excited as it was that I’ve wanted to do for such a long time and the fact Raquel remembered and decided to make it a Valentine’s Day gift was beyond awesome.
Unfortunately when we woke up at 3:30am to get ready to head out to the Magalies River Valley, we received a message cancelling the trip. We rebooked for the following weekend which was cancelled as well due to inclement weather. Finally our third attempt of the trip was successful which happened to be on the 8th of March, almost a month after the trip was initially booked.
We made our way to Bill Harrop’s Balloon safari base in Skeerpoort 64 kilometers from Johannesburg where we were welcomed with a cup of coffee and friendly smiles. The initial part of the safari was watching the team put up the balloons which was quite interesting as I never imagened the amount work required to get the balloons ready.
When everything was ready, we were ferried to the Balloons and soon after we had our slow and deliberate lift with our pilot, Tracy, carefully pressing her buttons which bellowed hot air into the balloon. Soon enough we were in the air taking in the majestic views of the valley while Tracy lifted and lowered us at will.
It’s odd that despite being in a reed basket, we never felt unsafe and ill at ease. It’s actually hard to even be scared as you constantly surrounded by the amazing views of the Magalies river valley and everything that calls this valley home.
Personally for me, the highlight was the seeing Jozi’s towers peak above the blanket of clouds which covered the city in the early morning. Photos won’t do the spectacular views much justice, but it’s the best I have as I cannot find the words to sufficiently describe what you see from up there.
After an hour, Tracy skillfully and impressively parks the balloon on a trailer hooked on to a pick-up truck, and brings out some bubbly and orange juice to celebrate “not falling out of the basket”. We are then swiftly taken to a beautiful breakfast spread back at home base which for personally rounds off a fantastic morning of looking out of a beautiful part of this stunning country Raquel and I call home!
**Bill Harrop’s Balloon Safari**
For more information on Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safari’s please check their website here.