AUTHENTIC // Flying a hot air balloon is truly authentic: a once in a lifetime experience – if you’re lucky. Camelot Balloons operates all year round near the Colorado resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch and is easy to reach by car. If the idea of flying a hot air balloon is a dream just waiting to come true, Colorado is definitely not a bad place to take action.
The custom designed, FAA certified hot air balloons range in a capacity of 4 to 8 passengers and make for a pleasant getaway.
“Not a sound. Not a single wind. Only the shadow cast from the air balloon shapeshifted as it crept elegantly over the hills below. The storytelling reflection of the balloon turned into a 3-legged dog, a sick duck, a pirate ship and then into our beautiful balloon again. I felt like a little girl again looking at all the different shapes below that seemed to come alive and follow us on our journey.”
Not a sound. Not a single wind. Only the shadow cast from the air balloon shapeshifted as it crept elegantly over the hills below
HOSPITABLE // Before boarding Caerleon we met the ground crew and our pilot Edward Merlin Sagonon, and a short introduction was provided on location.
“Merlin is a genuinely authentic character with a warm spirit. His accent alone made us feel like we were in a true American fairytale – the only difference was that the experience was more breathtaking than fiction”
Merlin is a genuinely authentic character with a warm spirit. His accent alone made us feel like we were in a true American fairytale
The ground crew was helpful and understanding, and let us know when and how to climb inside the wicker basket, where to put our hands, and in which direction we should orientate ourselves during landing.
“One of the passengers did not feel comfortable with the heights as we reached a certain altitude, but with his sweet, understanding and humorous warmth Merlin made sure hot air ballooning was still a good experience for everyone. Merlin had an inspiring authority, which reassured us all. Having a pilot with this level of professionalism and people skills made what might otherwise have been a bit of an adrenalin kick, a truly pleasant experience”
Having a pilot with this level of professionalism and people skills made what might otherwise have been a bit of an adrenalin kick, a truly pleasant experience
After the ballooning experience Camelot served snacks accompanied by hilarious tall tales and anecdotes in good company, along with a small certificate and a champagne toast.
IMMERSIVE // With over 40 years of ballooning experience, as a US National Record holder, and instructor to Steve Fossett, (the only person to have flown a balloon solo, non-stop, around the world), no wonder Merlin navigates the skies as were they his home.
It can be difficult to truly imagine beforehand what flying a hot air balloon feels like. The actual calmness and quietness may come as a surprise to many. One doesn’t feel the wind on the skin because the balloon floats with the wind. This experience of losing yourself in a moment that seems to stand still makes hot air ballooning truly magical.
“I squinted my eyes, looked out over the purple, dusty mountains and into the damp horizon and felt my freckles smiling back at the sun. There I was… standing in a basket on a cloud.”
There I was… standing in a basket on a cloud
MEMORABLE // Hot air ballooning in Colorado provides a very memorable view of the scenery that would be hard to soak up in the same way with other means of transportation. However, one shouldn’t expect to travel far and beyond. Although the tour already feels quite exclusive in a small group setting, it is possible to go up in a hot air balloon with only a significant other and the pilot with Camelot Balloons.
“I was lucky to share the experience with a kind couple and a good friend by my side. I’m grateful that we shared the experience together, and I know we will never forget it. I must admit though, that the thought of having a man up there with me did cross my mind; to be able to lean gently up against a warm chest, feel his strong beating heart against my back as if it was in tune with mine – and a couple of strong hands clubbing my waist, making me and my shaky legs in the basket feel as calm and safe as a fluffy chick in a cozy nest – that would have been absolutely amazing”
Perhaps the aspect of protection and romance can be of inspiration to others planning a trip. Whichever way, we certainty got carried away and BeLeave in Camelot Balloons.
We hear that each season has its own special beauty. For first timers I’d suggest 30-40 minutes while 60-70 minutes are great for those who know they’ll enjoy it. Don’t forget sunscreen. Sunglasses or a small hat is recommended. If you bring a camera, make sure you can fasten it somehow. Larger groups can be accommodated with advance notice. There’s a photographer on location and it’s possible to buy the high quality images afterwards.