Peaceful and serene, hot-air ballooning is a wonderful adventure. From the thrill of watching the balloon inflate, and the imperceptible lift-off, to the gentle descents with the pilot skimming the treetops one moment then sending you soaring heavenwards the next. And the sensational views are unforgettable!

Did you know?

The fabric balloon is called the envelope, the wicker basket a gondola.

Hot-air balloon rides offer safe adventures. Commercial hot-air ballooning in South Africa is controlled by the Civil Aviation Authority, and each operator must be registered as a non-scheduled airline, have a valid pilot's licence, operating certificate and public liability insurance and is held to regular airworthiness checks.

As a passenger, you need to be fit enough to stand for the duration of the flight (at least 50 minutes), climb in and out of the basket and be at least 1.2m (4 ft) tall so you can see over the rim. Air temperature and stability dictate that almost all balloon flights start before sunrise, and the flight path of every excursion depends on the direction of the wind and the weather.

In the Free State, take a flight over the Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site, or over Clarens, with views of the foothills of the Maluti mountains. In the Northern Cape, red sand dunes and the blue vault of the Kalahari desert sky offer a rare and exquisite sight.

In the Mpumalanga Lowveld, drift over the foothills of the northern Drakensberg, sub-tropical fruit orchards and the Sabie River. In Limpopo, go game spotting over private game reserves adjoining the Kruger National Park. In the Pilanesberg National Park, in the North West province, you can also spot game from the air.

In Oudtshoorn, in the Eastern Cape, sweep silently above the plains of the Klein Karoo, with the majestic Swartberg and Outeniqua mountain ranges for company. In the Western Cape, ballooning over vineyards and wheat fields, followed by breakfast at Paarl's 5-star Grande Roche Hotel, is a quintessential winelands adventure.

Gauteng has several popular ballooning sites, including the Magaliesberg Mountains, the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and, north of Pretoria, Cullinan's secret valleys.

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