Hot air balloon excursions from the outskirts of Marrakesh take passengers over the Western High Atlas Mountains, the Oueds Tinsift and the Al Hawuz Plain. Half-day trips start early, around 5:00 or 6:00 a.m., so the balloon can be launched before or around sunrise. The early morning hours offer the best light for enjoying the view.
Balloon rides don’t operate during the height of summer (mid-July through late August) due to southern Morocco’s extreme heat. When booking, make sure the company you plan to go with has certified pilots and utilizes trailing vehicles that follow the course of the balloon in case of an emergency. Ask whether transport to and from Marrakesh and any meals are included. Most half-day excursions include 4×4 transport, a camel ride and breakfast in a Berber tent.
Each hot air balloon can hold up to 10 passengers, including the pilot. The balloon’s basket is made up of four sections, and three passengers can stand in each section. Keep this in mind when booking; most companies also offer a pricier option of renting the entire balloon for a romantic couple’s flight. Reduced rates may be available for children, although be sure to check the minimum age requirement.
On the day of your hot air balloon flight, wear closed toe shoes and dress in layers. It can be significantly warmer on the ground than in the air, and you also might want to shed a few layers as the day wears on. Don’t forget sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat or scarf to protect against sunburn, and be sure to bring your camera!
If you’re asking around Marrakesh for a company that provides hot air balloon excursions, the French word for hot air balloon, “montgolfière” (mont-golf-ee-air), may come in handy. For more information and a list of hot air balloon operators, you can contact the Royal Moroccan Federation for Light Aviation and Aerial Sports.
There are a couple of companies that offer bookings for hot air balloon rides. Expect to pay upward of U.S. $230 per person. Some U.K.-based companies also offer pre-booking for hot air balloon rides, but you’re likely to get a better deal if you book directly with the Moroccan companies.
Written by Heather Carreiro.
Hot Air Balloon Rides in Morocco
Photo by Heartlover1717.