Balloon safari in Magalies River Valley

It was a cool morning, and it was still dark when we arrived at the Magalies River Valley in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. We were served hot coffee to shake off the sleepiness and to prepare us for a special morning.

Paid CampaignBill Harrops original balloon safari - balloons

To be honest, I normally avoid any situations where I have to get up before dawn – but this morning I was excited. I was going for a hot air balloon ride!

I had one previous experience of hot air ballooning. Then I was hovering over the fascinating landscape in Cappadocia in Turkey, with a panorama view of the chimney pipes and the small houses carved in tufa rocks.

As we were sipping our hot coffee the sun started to rise, and we saw Harrop´s team in hectic activity on the field in front of the clubhouse. After a while, we saw the balloons started to rise from the ground.

Up we go
Hot air balloon rides are dependent on the weather, and nature has to work hand in hand with you to get a successful ride. There was a sigh of disappointment when they informed us that they were not sure about the weather conditions, but then after a while they escorted us to the balloon and we climbed into the basket. After going through safety instructions, the balloon lifted off the ground, and we were hovering towards the treetops and the sunrise!

Bill Harrops original balloon safari - balloon rising
Our balloon captain this morning was no one less than the boss himself, Bill Harrop. He controlled the balloon with an experience that showed us that he has been doing this a thousand times before. My excitement after rising from the ground was slowly replaced by a wonderful peaceful feeling, as we were in the air with a panoramic view over the valley. Harrop was pointing out landmarks of special interest and telling us stories from his life, and in between his stories, the silence was only occasionally interrupted by the blast of the burners. The experience was nothing less than I remembered from my first balloon ride, and it was a memorable experience!

Photo by Mqondisi Emmanuel Guemede.

Photo by Mqondisi Emmanuel Guemede.

Bill Harrops original balloon safari - the man himself Bill Harrop

Bill Harrops original balloon safari - gas

Bill Harrops original balloon safaris - headquarters - DSC_0545 - edit

A bumpy landing
“Take landing position now”, Harrops instructed. We had been shown the landing position before take-off, and we all immediately took the position. I was expecting a soft landing, with the basket touching the ground with a bump. This time, the weather conditions were not on our side, and as we touched the ground, the basket tipped over and was dragged along the ground before coming to rest. As you are kneeling down in the basket for landing, this is perfectly safe, and it was just adding some adventure making us all laugh as we were seeing the world from yet another angle lying sideways in the basket.

Photo from Mqondisi Emmanuel Guemede. Photographer unknown.

Photo from Mqondisi Emmanuel Guemede. Photographer unknown.

The crew was already in place as we landed, and as soon as we climbed out of the basket, a table was set serving us champagne before we headed back to the clubhouse for a delicious breakfast.

Bill Harrops original balloon safari - champagne

Bill Harrops original balloon safari - breakfast

Facts: Bill Harrop´s original balloon safari
The family business started in 1981 and has grown into one of the most popular balloon safari companies in South Africa. They focus on good customer care where everyone is unique, they offer each visitor the best experiences possible, and they have high safety standards. Only qualified and professional pilots are employed, and they have more than 5000 customers every year starting their morning with this enjoyable experience.

Their headquarter is situated about 45 minutes outside Johannesburg. If you don´t have your own transport, transfers are available. Visit the Harrop´s website for further information.

Bill Harrops original balloon safari

Have you ever joined a hot air balloon ride? How was your experience?


I joined Bill Harrop´s for a hot air balloon ride when I joined the campaign #MeetSouthAfrica brought to you by the South African Tourism board, supported and managed by iambassador. As usual, Taste of Slow maintains the full editorial control of the content published on this site, and all opinions are my own.

About the Author Elin

I´m an Oslo based web publisher with passion for communication, travel and a green lifestyle. When I travel, I prefer to go slow, sustainable, and “live like a local”. Why slow? It is about challenging the cult of speed, and to enjoy the small things in life and to live in the present.

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