On the outskirts of Dubai before dawn with the crew beginning to inflate our balloon for this morning's flight.
The hot air balloon flight was a gift I had bought for Rianda's birthday back in April. It was her first ever hot air balloon flight and she was super excited to tick another experience off her bucket list.
The burners now on full blast.
We had originally booked the previous weekend and after arriving at the take-off point just after 5am the wind had started to pick up and unfortunately they had to cancel all flights for the day.
The balloon now starting to become vertical.
All aboard and ready for take-off.
After the balloons downwind from us took off we could finally lift off too.
The brilliant blue and yellow flame from the burners in the early morning light.
And finally aloft! It was a great relief after the aborted attempt the previous weekend.
Starting to drift west over the desert.
A big smile on Rianda's face from the buzz of her first hot air balloon experience.
Our pilot Donatas explaining how the wind was moving west near the ground but to the east as we ascended to 4,000 feet.
Looking out to the view west.
A truck on the road passing below.
A desert farm underneath us.
Emerging light from the sun below the horizon in the east.
The obligatory selfie.
A long camel training track stretching out into the distance below.
A patch of green in the otherwise brown desert.
The Dubal-Al Ain highway to the north and south.
The sun now peeking over the mountains.
Another balloon drifting over a desert village.
Our falcon taking off for a bit of a show.
And Rianda making a new feathery friend!
Looking down on the Dubai Conservation Reseve.
The clear tracks of a gazelle as he wanders through the reserve.
This morning there were a total of seven balloons in the air.
The sun now starting to blaze across the sky.
More four-legged animal tracks across the desert reserve.
A couple of white Arabian Oryx.
And a solitary one directly below.
More Oryx. Camels were kept out of the reserve and it was quite interesting to see the greater amount of foliage versus the sparse amount in the desert outside of the fence.
A camel and goat farm.
A palatial and very green residence below.
Drifting over the Dubai-Al Ain Highway.
Lying on our sides after the balloon basket comes to a halt in the desert dunes.
And the end of an amazing desert hot air balloon experience!
We were then picked up in some beautifully restored 1950's vintage Series 1 Land Rovers.
And taken to a desert camp for a post-flight breakfast.
Welcome coffee and dates.
A delicious breakfast including smoked salmon, halloumi cheese, caviar, eggs benedict and some sweet mint juice.
And a final ride back through the desert in the Land Rovers at the end of an unforgettable morning!