A hot air balloon excursion. Out in the air, buoyant and hovering, enjoying a bird’s view of nature, the wild, the savannah grasslands and watersheds. We had to be on the road by 5am. A chilly hour.
Our guide was kind to avail a blanket for each of the nine of us. Out we went into the dark.
From Cabanas Hotel in Sun City to Pilanesberg National Park it was about 15 minutes. A team was waiting for us and as the birds got musical we were ready to board the hot air balloon.
The captain had tested the engine and had all safety checks done. The colourful balloon is atop and we jump into a box-like carrier which is partitioned into three compartments. Four of us in one, the middle one for the captain with a gas cylinder that fuels the engine and then another for our five peers.
The box has spacious leg room and fasteners to hold on to. When taking off, the captain asks us to hold onto them tight and lower our bodies while crouching.
The takeoff is exciting as a team disentangles and lets us buoyant into the open space.
In almost slow motion, we start rising towards the skies. The captain has to split his time between managing the fire engine and answering questions from curious journalist passengers.
His responses come with fine dozes of jokes. He pulls an engine which produces flames of fire, propelling us higher and providing some warmth at the high altitude.
Soon the sun started showing face, at a vantage point that let us capture it rise with beauty of a different shades of gold, dark brown as it transcended into a shiny yellow.
For the photographer, this was optical illusion that kept manifesting a realistic artistry of the creator. The ideas began forming in the mind. Some silhouettes. Some selfies.
Group photos. It was a shared experience with another group in another balloon and provided some cool perspective against the open grasslands and streams of water.