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Up, up and away…

Up, up and away… The origin of mankind's desire to fly is lost in the distant past. There are many legends of men strapping birdlike wings, stiffened cloaks or other devices to themselves and attempting to fly, the Greek legend of Daedalus and Icarus being one of the most well-known.

However, the hot air balloon is probably the oldest form of flight that has successfully allowed humans to leave the ground. In 1783, a balloon designed by the Montgolfier brothers, made the first manned untethered flight carrying it's passengers an impressive 8km.

Nowadays not only are hot air balloon festivals held annually in many places throughout the year, including hotly contested races, but it’s a unique and fun way to get a bird’s eye view of landmarks or beautiful countryside.

The TopDog Insurance team take a closer look at some wonderful places where you can get cosy in the basket below the envelope.

Canterbury Plains, New Zealand

Few places suit this form of transport better than the Canterbury Plains (just south of Christchurch) which stretch out like a patchwork quilt of farmland towards snow-capped Southern Alps. If the views from the air whet your appetite, after your flight why not travel North West to the upper reaches of the Rangitata Valley and visit Mount Sunday made famous as the setting for Edoras, the fortress city capital of Rohan and home to Meduseld, the hall of King Theoden, in the film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The 500 metre high hill offers stunning views over the Rangitata River valley and Erewhon, considered one of the great vistas of New Zealand.

Napa Valley; California, USA

Napa Valley, California is considered one of the premier wine regions in the world and many believe it to be one of the most picturesque vineyards on planet earth. Flanked by the Mayacamas Mountain Range to the west and north and the Vaca Mountains on the eastern side the area offers some of the best hot air balloon rides to take in the serene beauty of the vineyards. The operators themselves are well informed about the area which makes the experience more enriching and many offer pre-flight snacks and a full champagne brunch following the flight.

Cappadocia, Turkey

The high plateau of Cappadocia, located in Turkey’s Anatolian region, is widely regarded as one of the best places in the world to experience a balloon flight. A hot air balloon trip provides tourists with beautiful views, as the plateau is dotted with a number of fascinating rock formations which were formed by volcanic eruptions then over years shaped by wind and rain. The fantastical topography is aided further by the people of the region having taken advantage of the soft stone and building underground dwellings, leaving the countryside scattered with amazing troglodyte-style architecture.

Albuquerque; New Mexico, USA

Every year, Albuquerque bears witness to one of the most impressive gatherings of hot air balloons in the world, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The nine day event attracts hundreds of ballooning enthusiast and over 500 balloons each year. On any given day during the festival, up to 100,000 spectators may be on the launch field where they are provided the rare opportunity to observe inflation and take off procedures. One of the biggest events of the fiesta is the Mass Ascension where hundreds of balloons launch in two waves, filling the sky with hundreds of balloons at once. Of course it is possible to join in the fun but book early as places sell out fast.

Luxor, Egypt

Luxor is one of the world’s greatest open air museums and an early morning hot air balloon flight offers a unique view of what was the ancient city of Thebes, the great capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom. A two hour tour will allow you to drift over the ancient monuments and landscapes of the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens. Rising gently into a still-dark sky, the sight of the early-morning sun rising over the East Bank, illuminating the city of Luxor and surrounding mountains, has to be something you will never forget.

Some fun facts about hot air balloons that many do not know about is that the first ever passengers of a hot air balloon ride were a rooster, a duck and a sheep and many believe that the Nazca lines in Peru, which are only visible from the sky, were made using a hot air balloon.

If you are looking to jump into a basket and fire up the gas on your travel, we at TopDog Insurance are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.

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