Day 6: Hot Air Balloons and Monkeys

Another day, another South African adventure: this time high, high in the air. We were going on a hot air balloon ride!

We made the 45 minute drive to the hot air balloon field and by 5:30AM we had warm cups of coffee in our hands, several biscuits, and had a front row seat to the inflation of the balloons. This was a very fun process to watch, and took about 30 minutes. There is a LOT of air that goes into these balloons!

After everything was inflated, we got a brief safety briefing and we all jumped into the basket. The “jump” was actually more of a climb – these things don’t have doors! We scrambled over and got settled in for our 1.5 hour ride. We started by shooting straight up. I am extremely nervous about heights, so I was a bit nervous about this activity. However, I trust science, and LOVED it! I wasn’t scared a all! This was extremely weird for me – even when hiking I get terrified at the top. I frequently have trouble driving over bridges and get freaked in elevators. This was crazy! And the fact that I wasn’t horrified made me even more excited!

Or trip started in the middle of a valley, and us and one other balloon shot straight up to watch the sun rise over the mountains. Stunning.

We wandered over to the edge of the valley, and got so close to the tree tops that someone in our basket even picked some leaves off of one.

The silence and the view was just so stunning, it’s hard to explain.

We even saw giraffes in the wild! That was something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Wild giraffes from a hot air balloon – wow.

We landed in a small valley over the mountains about 1.5 hours later, and I was so sad for this amazing experience to end. We were served lovely mimosas upon arrival as the balloon was deflated and packed up, and then headed back to the balloon field. We indulged in an amazing and delicious breakfast with a stunning view of the mountains now that the sun had rose.

All in all, this was by far one of the most amazing mornings of my life! It was quite a thing!

After dragging ourselves away from the breakfast buffet (always a challenge), we headed to our next destination – a monkey sanctuary! This facility adopts animals that are no longer wanted. Some were pets, move stars, trained pick pockets – you name it, these animals did it. There are about 200 animals in the facility, and they roam freely as you walk through. I got to hold one’s hand and I fell in love – she was awesome.

Another monkey was a bit more devious and managed to plop onto Teddy’s head a snag his glasses. This was extremely concerning as he has horrible eye site and had to drive us home! Ahh! After hoping that the monkey would drop them for a good ten minutes our guide called in a backup and that person bargained with the monkey to trade the glasses back for marshmallows. When Teddy (thankfully!) got his glasses back 20 minutes later they were completely mauled – bit marks all over the lenses, bent out of shape, but still wearable! Yay!

We held onto our belongs a bit more after that harrowing experience, but it was still awesome! I’m a big monkey lover, so it was extremely fun to see these guys running around everywhere. They were so cute and friendly, too. The work this facility is doing really is amazing, so it was great to support such a wonderful cause.

After a rather adventurous day we headed to a local brewery for a flight of South African beers before heading home. What a day!

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