First time riding a hot air balloon in Costa Brava, Spain

Travel has taught me many life lessons and one of the most important of all is to embrace the unknown by being willing to step outside of your comfort zone. I’m excited to try new foods, visit new places and experience cultures. However, my fear of heights is real and something I’ve been dealing with my entire life.

Blowing up our hot air balloon just before the ride
Blowing up our hot air balloon at Vol de Coloms just before the ride.

Although I’ve never allowed it to get the best of me in terms of not getting on a plane or crossing a bridge, I’ve carefully tailored my travels to be more adventurous in terms of my taste buds as opposed to doing things such as bungee jumping.

Hot Air Balloon in Costa Brava

When faced with the option of experiencing a hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava, Spain for the first time, my default initial reaction was to pass on it. After-all, it is not as though I was getting from point A to B by balloon. I could just sit this one out and resume the rest of my travel itinerary with the group.

That would have obviously been the easy decision; however, something inside of me decided not to let my fear of heights get in the way of what could be one of the most scenic flights of my life. I mean, we would be flying over ancient volcanoes and seeing the Pyrenees off in the distance; that’s not a view you get to see every day!

Audrey taking a photo during our hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava
Audrey taking a photo during our hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava.
Passing over trees and clouds during our hot air balloon ride.
Flying over ancient volcanoes in Costa Brava.
Pyrenees mountain range views from our hot air balloon ride
The Pyrenees mountain range off in the distance.

Experience in a Hot Air Balloon

Those waving goodbye at us became tiny dots; we were rising fast. Without articulating it out loud I was panicking inside. I instantly imagined all of the worst case scenarios possible; however, it wasn’t long before I started to relax. It helped that a few others were nervous and that I wasn’t the only person slightly terrified to be up that high in the sky.

The ride itself is smoother than flying in a plane or a helicopter. You don’t feel any turbulence whatsoever. In fact, it doesn’t even feel like you’re really moving in any direction at all.

I’d be lying if I said I was relaxed in say the same way I would be lounging on a couch back home, but I did start to feel more comfortable. It wasn’t long before I took out my camera and really started to enjoy my surroundings.

The views were simply stunning and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Below us, we had La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park which features 45 dormant volcanoes situated in between the Pyrenees Mountains and the coastline.

An overhead perspective shot of a car driving in a rural area
An overhead perspective shot of a car driving in a rural area.
Scenic countryside views during our hot air balloon ride
Scenic countryside views during our hot air balloon ride.
Overhead town views from our hot air balloon ride
Overhead town views from our hot air balloon ride.

I Would Do It Again (Hot Air Ballon Ride)

By around the halfway point of our journey (most rides are 1.5 hours long) I relaxed even more. It was around this point in time that the pilot brought out cake and cava. Watching the sunrise while drinking cava and eating cake was the moment I realized it was all worth it. I felt more at ease and I realized I had conquered my fear of hot air ballooning.

No, I’ll never totally get over my fear of heights but I was ‘okay’ with being up in the air at that moment.

And then came the descent so smooth and gentle, that we hardly felt a thing when we touched the ground. The landing much like the rest of the balloon ride was graceful. I had survived my first hot air balloon ride and I didn’t fall out of the basket! 😉

Moreover, although I was glad to be back on solid ground I was already thinking that I could do another ride in the future. Had I decided to let fear get in the way I would not have experienced all of those magic moments in the sky nor would I have felt good about myself for skipping out.

Challenging yourself is the only way to grow as a person and I’m glad the hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava reminded me of how important it is to never stop doing that.

Silhouette sunrise shot of a hot air balloon from our basket
Silhouette sunrise shot of a hot air balloon from our basket.
A blanket of clouds from a high vantage point during our hot air balloon ride
A blanket of clouds from a high vantage point during our hot air balloon ride.
Clouds in the foreground and homes in the background during our hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava
Clouds in the foreground and homes in the background during our hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava.
A shot of hot air balloons flying higher than us off in the distance
A shot of hot air balloons flying higher than us off in the distance

Planning your hot air balloon flight:

  • Book a flight with Vol de Coloms in La Garrotxa for departures between 7 and 8 in the morning.
  • Rides last approximately 1.5 hours.
  • The address is: Afores s/n17811, Olot, España
A shot of a hot air balloon taking off just before us
A shot of a hot air balloon taking off just before us.
Looking up at our hot air balloon prior to taking off
Looking up at our hot air balloon prior to taking off.
Silhouette shots of hot air balloons taken from our basket
A memorable first flight in Costa Brava.

This post was brought to you as a result of the #EuroFoodTrip campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Costa Brava & Girona Pyrenees and Emilia Romagna Tourism. As always, all thoughts remain my own.

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  1. says: Sara

    I’m yet to do a proper hot air ballon ride. I did a ride in Cambodia, but the ballon is attached to cables, so it only goes up and down. It was beautiful anyway. I’m not afraid of heights. However, I have motion sickness, sea sickness and all sickness you can imagine, lol. And, off course, I got sick in the ride. So, take a pill is going to be my priority next time.

  2. says: Iva Says

    Wow, this photo essay is amazing. I especially loved the photo of the other balloons in the distance. I hope I could go on a similar adventure one day!

  3. says: Izy Berry

    So happy that you decided not to let your fear get to you! This looked absolutely amazing. Did you also enjoy the traditional champagne toast after the ride? Where would you like to ride a hot air balloon next?

  4. says: Stefan

    Amazing photos Sam! Looks like you and Audrey had an incredible time. Might have to surprise my girlfriend with one of these hot air balloon trips – the views are mindblowing!

  5. says: Caterine Villardi

    Wow!! Super loved your post, I love balloons, my dream is to travel to Turkey and get to do my so dreamed balloon ride! I loved your stories! just cheered me up even more! Thank you.

  6. says: James Horner

    Look at the beautiful view of Costa Brava. Clouds… Sunrise… Greenery…Wow! It’s absolutely amazing. Never thought of trying but now I change my mind. Hot air balloon is now added to my bucket list.

  7. says: Denise

    Oh wow, those pics are amazing! Thanks for sharing! I haven’t been in a hot air balloon, yet, but I guess I definitely have to plan it in anytime soon 😀

  8. says: Tom Bourlet

    I’ve had a hot air balloon ride top of my list for so long! I was meant to try one over Brighton, but never got around to it and didn’t realise the voucher expired. Might have to give it a try in Spain next time I’m over there.

  9. says: Zascha

    This is something that I really want to do and I think is an experience everyone should do at some point because I feel it would be so liberating and magical! I’m glad you took the chance, I see it was totally worth it!

  10. says: Rana Singh

    Wow amazing pics. Costa Brava in Spain is indeed a great place for Hot air Balloon Rides. But Alas i am afraid of heights. But my brother can enjoy the ride.

  11. says: Christine

    Gorgeous photos and a great reminder to push yourself and say yes instead of no! I’d love to do a hot air balloon ride anywhere – how exhilarating.

  12. says: Paula Lloyd

    Wow! It seems really amazing. Costa Brava in Spain is the bestest place for hot air ballooning rides. Really love to read your post SAMUEL.

  13. says: Msh Rasel

    Excellent Advice,
    I am really waiting for “RIDING A HOT AIR BALLOON IN COSTA BRAVA, SPAIN” as soon as possible.

  14. Love the amazing landscape! Also, great to know that there is no turbulence. I’m afraid of heights, but I have hot air balloon on my list. Your words give me some courage! Thanks 🙂

  15. says: Instatravelhub

    Riding a hot air balloon has been on my wishlist for a very long time, and surprised to know that my son also likes it a lot. We have booked a riding on his upcoming birthday, thanks for sharing your experience here which is very interesting to read.

  16. I have always, always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon and I can’t think of a more perfect spot than Costa Brava. Oh, how my heart longs to go back! I never really thought about it before, but I thought they were able to steer and direct the balloons a little more than just by the wind. Interesting- living vicariously through you!

  17. says: shalini

    Costa brava is the great place. we can’t imagine clouds from a high vantage point during our hot air balloon ride may be amazing experience.

  18. says: James

    Congrats on slaying one of your biggest fears man. Can’t imagine that it was easy for you to do, but it must feel like a big weight off your shoulders!