The Royal Balloon Company has been granted permission by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the Sultanate of Oman to begin operating hot air balloon rides in the Sharqiyah Sands on January 24, 2023, as part of the government’s tourism campaign. Sheikh Ali bin Ahmed Al Shamsi, the Governor of North Sharqiyah province, launched commercial operations of Royal Balloon, a Turkish company that operates hot air balloons in Al Wasel, Bidiya.
Getting to see Sharqiyah Sands and its beautiful landscape, mystical vibe, and shimmering sands is pretty incredible on its own. However it gets even more captivating when you witness it from a hot-air balloon flying thousands of feet above the dunes. Within minutes of taking off from the ground visitors will find themself drifting over the serene sands as the takeoff point becomes smaller and smaller in the distance.
Watching from the basket of a hot air balloon as the rising sun sets the sky ablaze can be a surreal experience. Hot-air ballooning has just been launched in Oman as the Sultanate of Oman's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has given the permit to Royal Balloon Company to start operations of its hot air balloon ride in Sharqiyah Sands in January, 2023.This is in line with government's campaign to boost tourism and to support sources of economic diversification in the civil aviation sector while also providing a unique way to experience the wonders of Oman.
The project is a partnership between an Omani company in collaboration with a Turkish company specialised in the field of hot air ballooning around the world with Oman becoming the fifth country it has started operations in. They are said to be starting operations with two balloons this season in the North Sharqiyah region, only a fraction of their international fleet which supposedly totals to more than 22 hot air balloons. The balloons have a capacity of 12 people per balloon, costing OMR 80 per person, per ride.
The balloon ride will take place for 40 to 60 minutes during sunrise reaching a height of 600 metres above desert level. There are supposed to be discounted prices available for Omani residents and citizens, said to start from OMR 59 per person.
The hot air ballooning should run from October to April of each year, during the tourist season in the Sharqiyah Sands as long as safe climatic conditions are available. The company intends to expand into additional areas in the future.
As the hot-air ballooning occurs at sunrise, one is required to report at the designated area pre-dawn which would require ballooners to wake-up pretty early, possibly around four in the morning while stars still blanket the sky. On reaching the takeoff point one may see part of the lengthy process to get a hot-air balloon up and running from their arrival, spreading them out, filling up with air, starting them up, and finally getting them in the air.
The pilot uses repeated heat blasts to lift the balloon into the air, which results in a lot of noise during takeoff. But once you rise to your cruising height the flame burners are cut, and you drift in sudden, enthralling quietness. This is disturbed only when the pilot needs to light the burner for injecting more hot air into the balloon. Some even describe the experience as near-spiritual.
After the first 20 minutes, the scenery changes. It’s still quiet, but starkly different from taking in the sights on land. There are no fixed routes in ballooning. The direction of your rise will be decided by the direction of the wind. After the time has passed the balloon will land in the landing area.
Ready to take to the skies? Remember to consider the following:
Hot-air ballooning is heavily weather dependent. Be ready for cancellations if weather conditions are not suitable with rains or strong winds.
Balloon baskets aren’t very roomy. There is some space, but not a lot. Finding your place and staying there would be the best. The pilot turns the balloon so you can view everything from every angle.
Limit what you carry along. When the basket is full, it is difficult to put your belongings at your feet.
The basket hardly sways. So, you can relax.
Dress appropriately because getting out of the basket may require a small jump and some jostling.
Take a camera with you, but perhaps leave the DSLR at home. The best camera for hot air ballooning is a GoPro.
Don’t forget the sunblock.
With the option of frequent commercial balloon rides now available in Oman, anyone who wishes to try this exciting activity can book their hot air balloon ride above the Sharqiyah Sands. Talk to our travel advisors at +968 24400844 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book your hot air balloon ride today.
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