The day we went in a hot air balloon. Oh my.

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Balloon mandala

With a name and design like ours, it was about time we went up in a hot air balloon, and we were delighted when Vol de Coloms invited us to do just that on a recent trip to Catalonia. Me oh my, what a day.

Preparing the Balloon

The day began at 7am when we went to the Vol de Coloms launch site. We drank coffee while watching the balloon come to life. The weather forecast had been uncertain so we were delighted to see that the conditions were in our favour.

Steve preparing to fly in the balloon

Steve got involved, helping to inflate the balloon…

Balloon face off

 …while I realised that I was actually somewhat terrified (again) of flying in a basket…

Balloon warming up

….powered by flames.

Clambering into the balloon

I got my act together, let excitement take precedence, and clambered inside….

Victoria and Steve in the balloon

….even managing to smile. The butterflies were having a party in my stomach…

Balloon and grass

…and we weren’t even off the ground yet.

Balloon fire

The roar of the flames intensified…

Take off at vol de coloms

…and we were off! All fear subsided and exhilaration and awe set in.

La Garratoxa landscape

How could it not with such stunning views? The landscape of Garrotxa and the surrounding area is an incredible mass of wooden mountains, valleys and volcanoes, with the sea visible in the distance.

Tiny church in volcano

We even flew over a dormant volcano with a little church perched in the centre. It isn’t working today but you can hike there to take a peek inside.

Steve earth gazing

Floating in the balloon is sublime. In-between the roar of flames, the basket glides smoothly through the sky in perfect silence. It’s the perfect condition for some earth gazing and a mini overview effect.

Trees from above, Catalonia

I was amazed by how much control the pilot had over the balloon. We went from around 1,200 feet at one minute, to lightly skimming the trees the next. I felt like I was in a BBC documentary, smoothly zooming in and out of the landscape.

Cake in the balloon

Just when things couldn’t get any better, the pilot produced some cava and cake.

Cava on balloon ride

Pink bubbles…

Eating cake in a balloon

…and cake in the sky. I was in bliss.

Balloon shadow

Capturing our shadow made for many fun photos, until it was time to land. We’d been flying for over an hour.

Our pilot originally chose the field above, but at the last minute decided upon a cycle path instead. Flanked by a road and a ravine, I was a little nervous but needn’t have been seeing as we landed with barely a jolt.

Moving the Vol de Coloms vballoon

Half of us jumped out and helped hold the basket down as we maneuvered it off the path…

Balloon deflating

…and waited for the balloon to deflate. Another pilot from Vol de Coloms had been following us in a van, and shortly arrived to help pack up.

stuffing the balloon in its box

A group effort ensued and we rolled up the massive silk, magically fitting it back in its tiny box.

Meal after balloon ride

High off adrenaline and awe, we journeyed back to the Vol de Coloms camp where a Catalan feast had been laid out including cheeses, omelettes, bread and salad (and of course hams for the meat eaters). We were shown how to make proper pan catalan (bread with garlic, oil and tomatoes), and tried our hand at drinking from a spout. It was a wonderfully sociable way to end an awesome experience.

Balloon certificate

We were even given a certificate to commemorate our day. And it was certainly a day worth commemorating. The landscape, the views, the  treats, the wonder of flying beneath a balloon – it has to be one of the most peaceful and romantic ways to travel. If you get a chance to experience it, don’t miss it. It’s one of the most beautiful things we’ve ever done.

Next up, I’d love to go to this one: Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico, USA

Useful info

Vol de Coloms is in Santa Pau, Garrotxa, Catalonia, about an hour and a half drive from Barcelona. We drove there in a hire car and stayed the night before in the incredible Mas Can Battle. It makes a gorgeous brak away from the city, and it’s amazing how much the landscape changes within the hour.

The balloon ride lasts around an hour and a half and is suitable for all ages and abilities including those in wheelchairs. There were about 10 people in our balloon but you can arrange to go just as two.

A flight costs 170€ and includes cava, cake and a full meal with wine afterwards, as well as a certificate.

There are lots of excellent hikes in the area so it would be nice to combine a ballon ride with some exploration of the surrounding countryside and historic towns (such as Olot, Santa Pau and Besalu).

If you’re visiting Barcelona too, have a look at our list of things to do in Barcelona, and places to eat, drink and go out in the city.

Vol de Coloms, Garratoxa, Catalonia

Many thanks to Vol de Coloms for inviting us to take the balloon ride. It was spectacular. 

35 thoughts on “The day we went in a hot air balloon. Oh my.”

  1. I went in Australia over the Outback and it was incredible! What AMAZING shots!!! Just gorgeous! Love the certificate they gave you in the end.

  2. Stunning photos guys, I really love them!

    The experience of the hot hair balloon is very tempting even though I am scared of heights.. will see.
    I love the fact that you were there from the very beginning (watching the balloon been inflated) till the end.

    • That was one of our favourite parts too. We didn’t know that would be the case until we got there and it was a wonderful surprise.

  3. You had me at cava and cake! This looks positively dreamy. Beautiful photos, as always. I love the way you told the story through them.

  4. Wow, those views were absolutely amazing!!! Beautiful photographs, and awesome experience. I’ve always been a bit scared to go up in one of those, but I think I might have to try it after seeing this!

    • You really should. It was so incredibly peaceful. I stopped being scared as soon as we took off and I realised how gentle it was.

  5. You’ve taken some beautiful photos – both of the scenery and your experience 🙂

    I think pink bubbles in the air just tipped the experience into perfection!

  6. This looks incredible! I’m not surprised you were nervous about getting in a flying basket, when you put it like that it sounds terrifying but obviously well worth it. These photos are beautiful.

    • Ha! I have a knack for putting things in a way that makes them sound terrifying. It’s not a particularly useful trait 🙂

  7. taking a hot air balloon ride is definitely on my bucket list! Beautiful photos – I love the one of the shadow of the balloon.

  8. I love the idea of floating in a hot air balloon, but the reality? I’m not so sure about that. I think you may have changed my mind, though. It just seems so dreamy.

  9. Wow, that looks awesome. Seems like you guys had an amazing experience – I’d love to try it one day as well! (And you are right,it’s fitting that you finally went up in a ballon, though when thinking of your name for some reason I’m seeing more of a “Up” kind of flying house and thousands of ballons :D!)

  10. Now I really want to head to Barcelona! It wasn’t originally on the list, but it so is now! This looks just amazing.

  11. Wow, what an amazing experience. Thanks for taking me on the exhilarating balloon ride. That view of the volcano with a church is fascinating. I bet the ride gave you a nice mini-Overview Effect:)

  12. What an amazing post!! Going on a hot air balloon is high up there on my bucket list! I’m thinking when my girlfriend and I are in Barcelona, we will be taking the trek to Santa Pau!! Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Great! It really is a wonderful experience. I also can’t recommend Mas Cam Batlle enough. I’ll be posting on it later this week, and it’s one of the best places we’ve ever stayed at. Have a great time!

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