Want to take a hot-air balloon ride in Dubai? I explain everything about this activity in this article 🙂
In Dubai, you will have a lot of activities to choose from and among the craziest of them is, of course, the hot-air balloon ride over the desert. This ride is probably one of the most memorable attractions you will ever experience (well, as far as I'm concerned, it's the one I remember the most!).
During a hot-air balloon flight over Dubai, you will be able to admire the beauty of this seemingly endless expanse of sand and enjoy a sunrise over the dunes.
Find out here all the information you need to prepare your flight, as well as the different options available for this activity.
PREPARATION AND PROCEEDINGS OF YOUR FLIGHT
From Dubai, it will take you about an hour’s drive to your departure point, which is located at the entrance to the Dubai Conservation Reserve. You will be able to watch the balloon inflate while the professional team in charge of your flight will explain all the safety instructions.
The hot-air balloons can hold up to 20 people. Most of the time, the flights are done in groups of 16.
A little advice: if you want to take pictures during your flight, I recommend placing yourself in one of the corners of the basket, from which you will have a wider view.
The take-off will be a few minutes before sunrise. The flight will be very smooth and will last about 1 hour. This time may vary depending on the weather. If the organizers consider that the conditions do not allow the flight to last at least 40 minutes, the outing will be canceled. In case of cancellation, you will have the options between a full refund and the possibility of rescheduling your flight for a later date. This is always good to know, and reassuring beside!
The balloon's route will also vary depending on the weather and several other criteria, but your pilot will do his best to allow you to fly over the reserve, so you can admire the wildlife.
THE DIFFERENT PACKAGES OF HOT-AIR BALLOON FLIGHTS IN DUBAI
Hot-air balloon flights in Dubai allow you to discover the desert, which is located near the city. These flights are only possible between the months of September and May. Flights are only scheduled in the morning, and the highlight of the show will be the sunrise over the Dubai desert. Departures are therefore before dawn.
You will be picked up directly at your hotel, and a private shuttle will take you to the exit of the city, from where you will take your flight.
You can find several packages, sometimes quite similar, to discover the desert of Dubai by balloon. In all cases, you will be able to enjoy a breakfast before or after the flight.
Some packages also allow you to enjoy other activities in the desert of Dubai. You can for example go on a 4x4 safari, admire a flight of falcons or spend the night in a camp in the desert.
THE SIMPLE BALLOON FLIGHT
This first option is the most "classic" (and the one I did myself in 2015). You will leave your hotel between 4 and 6 am depending on the time of sunrise, to reach the outskirts of the city and the desert.
During your flight, you will enjoy an incredible view of the vast expanse of sand from the sky.
At 3,400 feet above the ground (1,200 meters), you will be able to admire the sun giving the dunes red and orange hues. Believe me, you won't forget this moment anytime soon!
You will also be able to see Dubai on the horizon, admire its Skyline and appreciate the contrast between this very modern city and the wild desert that stretches around it.
At the end of your flight, you will return to your point of departure and have the opportunity to enjoy a breakfast in a camp established in the desert. The return to the city is also included, and you will be driven back to your hotel in the late morning once the activity is over. The flight itself takes about an hour.
It costs about $322 (€285) per person according to the current exchange rates. It's pretty expensive, for sure, but honestly it's one of the best places in the world to take a hot-air balloon ride over the desert 🙂
THE DESERT FLIGHT WITH FALCON SHOW
With this package, you can enjoy a hot-air balloon ride to see a sunrise and have a unique view of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. From the sky, you will have the opportunity to observe camels, gazelles and oryx in their natural environment.
After your flight, you can enjoy a falconry show, take photos and learn about the great tradition of falconry in the UAE. This package also includes a short camel ride through the desert and a traditional breakfast.
The flight lasts between 40 and 70 minutes depending on weather conditions, and the whole activity lasts 4 hours.
Some friends chose this experience (a few dollars more than the classic formula) and were very satisfied. I have not specifically tested the falcon show but I have no doubt that it is interesting.
HOT AIR BALLOON FLIGHT WITH 4X4 SAFARI
With this package, in addition to flying over the Dubai desert in a hot-air balloon and enjoying a breakfast, you will go on a safari to discover the fauna and flora of the region. In a vintage 1950's Land Rover 4x4, you will go on a tour of the Dubai Nature Reserve. These vintage vehicles were the very first motorized vehicles to explore the desert, over 60 years ago!
You will see the desert animals in their natural habitat, and an experienced guide will teach you much more about the flora and fauna of the Dubai desert. This activity lasts about 6 hours.
I often talk about it, the 4x4 safari is a great activity to do in Dubai. So, here is the opportunity to combine both activities in one day, it's great! 🙂
SPEND THE NIGHT IN THE DESERT BEFORE A FLIGHT AT SUNRISE
This package, which is the most complete you can find to discover the desert of Dubai by hot-air balloon, offers you tosleep in the desert, so as to be right there at dawn and admire the sunrise.
This option includes all the elements of the formula with the safari in 4x4, and offers, in addition to dining in the desert and sleeping in a typical camp, a total immersion and a unique experience.
With this formula, you will be picked up at your hotel between 2:30 pm and 4 pm. You will then be driven back to your place of residence the next day in the morning.
THE PRICE OF HOT AIR BALLOON FLIGHTS OVER THE DUBAI DESERT
Depending on the package you choose, the prices will vary, and you will have to pay between between $282 and $565. Prices are based on dirham (AED, the currency of Dubai) and can therefore change according to the currency rate. Booking your flight in advance may allow you to take advantage of a slightly better rate, so it may be worthwhile to book your ticket as soon as the dates of your trip to Dubai are set.
- The basic package, which includes a hot-air balloon flight, breakfast and transfer from your hotel and back, is available for about $282 per person.
- The package with the falcon show and the camel ride costs about $305 per person.
- The package that also includes a 4x4 safari in the desert is available for about $340 per person.
- The full package, which offers you a night in the desert before flying over the desert in the morning and going on a safari, costs about $565 per person.
For me, the proposed rates make the basic package less interesting. My opinion is that for a few dozen dollars more, you can take advantage of a safari and also discover the area from the ground. Grouping these activities will also allow you to avoid having to make several trips between the city and the desert.
TAKING PICTURES DURING YOUR BALLOON FLIGHT
Of course, during your balloon flight, you will be allowed to take as many pictures as you wish. It would be a shame not to take advantage of this, as the sunrises in the desert are particularly photogenic. Even the other hot-air balloons that could eventually fly by your side will blend perfectly into the landscape and will allow you to make very beautiful compositions.
But a successful hot-air balloon photo requires some precautions. First of all, even if the balloon is not the fastest vehicle in the world, it is still in constant movement. Additionally, if you wish to immortalize a sunrise in the desert, the luminosity will be weak, at least at the beginning. It will thus be necessary to adjust your camera well, if you want to avoid having blurred or too-dark pictures.
For successful photographs, you will have to:
Use a short exposure time, with a wide enough aperture and a short enough focal length (avoid zooming too much).
Prepare your camera in advance: the space in the basket is quite limited and you might have trouble changing lenses.
Don't just look at the horizon and the landscape in the distance: also look at the ground directly under your feet. If you are flying over the reserve, you might see oryx, for example.
Do not rush. Your flight will last about an hour, so you should have plenty of time to get some shots while enjoying the experience.