My First Hot Air Balloon Safari at Pushkar, Skywaltz.
Well, we all know Camping, but what is Glamping? Glamping is mainly a portmanteau that combines the words Glamour + Camping which make it a luxurious camping experience. I was pretty much oblivious of the term myself and was introduced to the term only once I reached my campsite at Pushkar in Rajasthan.
I won a Travel Contest on Tripoto. Tripoto is one of India’s leading Travel based start-ups which apart from doing many other amazing things, gives avid travellers a platform to share their travel experiences as well as send some really passionate travellers on sponsored escapades. Therefore, coming back to the contest, this win I had is, by the way, something that doesn’t happen to me often. Mind you, I am the kind of a person whom luck never favours and who ends up in the world’s most weird and crooked situations by default. If you know what Murphy’s Law is, then you can pretty much figure out my life. So, basically to deal with my life I have given up on hope. (Not really, though! I am an optimist a pretty stubborn one.)
I have also talked at length about my experience in Pushkar Camel Fair in my podcast on The Musafir Stories, India’s very own travel podcast. Give it a listen to go on an audio journey with me through the dusty and chaotic alleys of Pushkar.
The Tripoto Travel Contest
I participated in this Travel Contest which ran from the month of September to October on Tripoto and required the participants to share their travel experiences of Rajasthan to qualify for the contest. I was travelling in Udaipur and Jodhpur when I first read about this contest and gave it a try. I shared my experiences of travelling in Jodhpur and then forgot about the whole thing. (I think forgetting about things is the best way to deal with expectations in life. Just a random thought!)
You know when you have no expectations; surprises are all the more surprising. Tripoto surprised me with a message on the Tripoto app and an official mail from them and the sponsors Skywaltz. Woohoo! I was the winner, Oh My God! Was this the best day of my life or what?
Skywaltz is India’s first fully licensed and Government approved Hot Air Balloon operation, providing Hot Air Balloon safari rides in many picturesque parts of India. I was awarded a 2 nights-3 days stay at the Skywaltz Luxury Camp in Pushkar during the iconic Pushkar Camel Fair. However, the cherry on the top was a free Hot Air Balloon Safari amidst the clouds and birds and above the hills of Pushkar overlooking the entire city down below. What more could I ask for in life?
The Pushkar Camel Fair
The Pushkar Camel Fair dates back to approximately 100 years and is a massive event in Rajasthan. What started as the annual event of livestock trading in the region has gained a lot of popularity even among global travellers who specifically plan their travel in Rajasthan during this time of the year. The fair is no longer just about trading of livestock but is a full-fledged festivity with amazing activities to participate in as well as to experience. With many contests like the Langri Taang ( a popular Indian sport especially among children), Satolia Match (another popular Indian game for children involving breaking a stack of stones with a ball), Camel Decoration Contest, Longest Moustache Contest, Kite Flying Contest and concerts of famous Indian and Indo-Western Musicians and singers the whole fair is an extravagant travel experience.
The fair is conducted for five days during the month of November and the dates fall from Kartik Ekadashi to Kartik Poornima which is essentially a full moon day. This year the dates of the fair were from 8th November to 14th November.
My Experience at the Skywaltz Luxury Camps.
After a long journey from Bagdogra to Pushkar, the Skywaltz Camp looked like heaven to me. Located a little farther away from the Mela Ground this place was tranquil and beautiful.
The tents were set up amidst an orchard and surrounded by mango and Indian gooseberry trees. Since this was my first experience at Camping or Glamping, I wasn’t even sure of what to expect inside these tents.
As soon as I entered the camp I was bowled over by the warmth it emanated. A cosy bed, an air conditioner, a bedside lamp, well-carpeted floors, a beautiful rug, two chairs and a table were a treat to look at. But, wait where was the toilet? A zip opening at the farther end of the tent revealed the attached bathroom. The makeshift toilet was creative with modern amenities, small bottles of complimentary toiletries, a big washbasin that looked like an iron wok and a 24-hr supply of hot and cold water. Everything was sorted.
The Camp had a dining area that served good food and consisted of very hospitable staff akin to entire Rajasthan I suppose. All in all I simply loved the whole setup.
My First Hot Air Balloon Safari.
I was instructed by the team to be up and ready by 5 am. I am not a morning person at all but the prospect of floating above the Pushkar city in a basket was pretty alluring. The cab picked us up from the camp area and headed towards the ground from where we were supposed to take the flight.
There were lifeless large pieces of coloured cloth strewn all over the ground which by the way were going to come to life very soon. We met Mr Paul Macpherson who is the Chief of Operations. He briefed us about the itinerary of the flight. I was half asleep throughout the briefing but as soon as the balloons started getting readied for the flight, I realised in a few moments I would be witnessing magic.
After a while, the balloons were ready and those colourful pieces of fabric turned into huge colourful balloons. After a little instruction from the boys, I managed to hop in one of the baskets. Mr Francesco Castillo was our pilot for the day who is an immensely experienced Hot Air Balloon pilot. He briefed us about the do’s and don ts of the entire flight, safety measures and landing procedure and we were all good to go.
A little turbulence during the takeoff and we set sail among the clouds to experience the best of Pushkar. Hovering above people’s homes, stables, vast expanses of green and arid patches of land, Pushkar looked unreal from up above the sky. The Pushkar Lake at the backdrop looked magical like a shimmering reflecting mirror. The first rays of sunlight reflecting on the surface of the lake gave it a whole new definition.
As we floated high above the cattle grazing grounds and away from the city, the sun started rising from the back of the hills. I have witnessed many sunrises and sunsets from the Himalayas as well as at the backdrop of seas. I have seen the horizon light up in spellbinding colours before the sun actually appeared or disappeared but looking at a sunrise from a level almost equal to the sun itself is something unimaginably spectacular.
In life, some moments do leave us speechless and at a loss of words. It’s in one such numerous moment that we realise that life is so much more dynamic than what we know of it. These little moments are the miracles we must cherish and celebrate for the rest of our lives. I was definitely witnessing one such miracle.
I wish I could stop time then and there. I wish I could stop all those phenomena that cause time to flee. But they say all good things come to an end and so did my Hot Air Balloon ride. I was overwhelmed, mesmerised and at an absolute loss of words after this experience. I went back with a lot of memories and moments to treasure for life. I want to thank Skywaltz and Tripoto with all my heart for having given me this opportunity to fly so high. Thank you.
Have you had a similar experience? Have you experienced a hot air balloon ride? If yes, then how was your first experience? Also, which place was it and what were the things running on your mind during the flight? Tell me about it in the comments I would love to know about it. Until then keep flying higher each day of your lives and keep travelling! Ciao.