My upcoming month long journey to Myanmar (Burma) already sounded like a rather exotic trek. But when I heard about the possibility of viewing the beauty of the South East Asian country from the basket of a hot air balloon as it floated above the Buddhist temples of Bagan – well, that sounded like my kind of excitement!
Hot air ballooning in Bagan is an adventure originally envisioned by Brett Melzer and his partner / co owner Khin Omar Win. In 1997 their plan seemed simple – offer travelers the opportunity to get a unique aerial view of Bagan and the numerous temples which dot the Myanmar landscape. But it took two years of considerable research and planning before their new ballooning company – Balloons Over Bagan – launched it’s first flight over Bagan on December 31st, December 1999. Fortunately for all involved, their ballooning venture has proved to very popular, to say the least, as their company has grown from one balloon and a staff of eight in 1999 to a fleet of 15 hot air balloons and staff of 200 today.
With increased success, Matt and Omar have expanded their ballooning ventures. In June of 2013 they opened the 12 room Gadgety Goenpa Lodge in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Hot air ballooning through Bhutan’s majestic Phobjikha Valley is one of the adventure experiences offered in this unique location. Within the past year they have also begun offering multi-day “ballooning safaris,” visiting and flying over the Inle Lake area of Myanmar.
For those who wonder about the wisdom of jumping in a balloon and flying off over Myanmar you should know that Brett and Omar take their hot air ballooning seriously. Their company has it’s Air Operators Certificate issued by the Myanmar Department of Civil Aviation. All pilots are commercially licensed in the UK, EU, and Australia which allows them to also be licensed in Myanmar. Pilots have a minimum of 300 P1 “pilot in command” hours in balloon type with most having in excess of 1000 P1 hours. Staff, including flight check examiners, instructors and approved maintenance engineers are all licensed through the Civil Aviation Authority in the United Kingdom.
This all sounds like a great adventure experience for my upcoming journey to Myanmar. I’ll be writing more about the journey including the ballooning so check back. Meanwhile, if you would like to know more about Balloons Over Bagan take a look at their website: www.easternsafaris.com where you can also find information about their operations in Buhtan.
(Disclosure – I’ve always enjoyed flying, obtaining my fixed wing license in 1976. I’ve never piloted Lghter-than-Air craft and will be flying as a guest of Balloons Over Bagan during my travels in Myanmar.)
Hot Air Ballooning In Myanmar ……. Enjoy The Adventure!
Dr. B, The Photo Trekker
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