Above the Clouds in the Catalan Pyrénées

Repeating an experience, especially in exactly the same place, may seem an unnecessary indulgence. When the experience is a hot air balloon flight in the La Garrotxa region of the Catalan Pyrénées however, it is anything but a waste of time.

Hot air balloon being inflated in the La Garrotxa region of the Catalan Pyrenees on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-2 hotair_balloon

Inflating the sky chariot

Every experience is different, even a repeated one, in infinite different ways, small details, which if observant enough enable travellers to discover the uniqueness of each experience.

Hot air balloon being inflated in the La Garrotxa region of the Catalan Pyrenees on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-13 ballooning_catalan

Firing up the balloon

A welcome change was the later start, probably due to short winter days, meaning catching dawn did not need waking before the cockerels. However, uncertain weather conditions, delayed the flight still further and we eventually took off around mid-morning. Once they decided to go however, they quickly inflated the giant, nylon ‘garlic bulb’, and were ready to float on the wind, a blast of hot flame, and we had lift off.

Fully inflated hot air balloon, La Garrotxa region of the Catalan Pyrenees on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography

A hot air jellyfish?

Hot air balloon being inflated in the La Garrotxa region of the Catalan Pyrenees on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300 ballooning_spain

Beginning to rise

The later start meant missing out on the ever-changing hues of a Catalonian dawn, but the distant mountains of the Pyrénées, cloaked in their winter livery were spectacular. Floating high above a low-lying fluffy blanket of cloud in a clear blue sky, with occasional domes of long extinct volcanoes poking through white and grey candyfloss.

Fully inflated hot air balloon, La Garrotxa region of the Catalan Pyrenees, Spain n Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-62 hot-air_balloon

Ready for take off

Flying high in La Garrotxa, volcanic region of the Catalan Pyrenees, Spain on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-16 la_garrotxa

The volcanic landscape of La Garrotxa

I’m certain our group literally had to catch our breath on several occasions, but then shadow of the balloon was reflected on the clouds. It was an especially impressive sight, a several hundred foot high mirror image of our floating chariot projected onto a huge cloud.

There was only one balloon flying this time, which was slightly unfortunate, as the best images from the last flight included our sister craft flying over a predawn volcanic landscape.

Shadow of our hot air balloon projected onto the clouds over La Garrotxa in the Catalan Pyrenees, Spain on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-25 balloon_shadow

Eerie projection

The group was also quite different, equally photogenic, but less stunned silence, and more animated, they provided ample Kodak moments. It seemed just as sensible to aim the lens at their antics, and try to record their reactions as the stunning scenery. At one point or Spanish videographer Diego, called his parents on Skype, it was cool to have them join us on our flight, his Mum in particular seemed almost as excited as us.

Girls looking concerned on a hot air balloon flight in La Garrotxa, Catalonia, Spain on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-45

Dolly and Mariana with a cause for concern?

A breakfast of cava, and cake was one welcome similarity of the two flights, there is something special about toasting the morning above the clouds. The chink of champagne flutes, probably carries for miles and it was easy to imagine farmers, and shoppers hundreds of metres below out feet looking up, wondering where the sound originated from.

Toasting with cava in the sky on a hot air balloon in La Garrotxa, volcanic region of the Catalan Pyrenees, Spain on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-33 skyhigh_toast

Salud!

Skyping in the sky on a hot air balloon in La Garrotxa, volcanic region of the Catalan Pyrenees, Spain on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-50 la_garrotxa

Skypeing in the sky

This was another welcome feature of this flight, the way sound carries for great distances, we were still able to hear the sounds of the world far below. Dogs barking, vehicles being started as people headed to work, or school, the world continuing to turn oblivious to the excited group drifting on the winds high above them. It felt slightly voyeuristic, as if we were eavesdropping on their daily routine, concealed from their view by a cotton wool like shroud.

Toasting with cava in the sky on a hot air balloon in La Garrotxa, volcanic region of the Spanish Pyrenees on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-32 spanish_pyrenees

Cava in the clouds

All too soon the flight came to a bumpy end, on the last occasion our basket had seemed to ‘kiss’ the ground on landing, this time it basically rugby tackled it, almost crash landing, and bouncing half way across a handy empty field.

Looking down on the cities of La Garrotxa on a hot air balloon flight in the Spanish on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-46 la_garrotxa

Spying on the city

Happy in the clouds over La Garrotxa, Catalan Pyrenees, Spain on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-36

Dolly, with her head in the clouds

The nice guys at Vol de Coloms provided a typical Catalan lunch of crusty bread smothered in garlic and tomato, along with cured meats, sliced sausages and cheeses.

Another great experience, a wonderful new one, that I’m grateful to have been given a repeat performance.

Deflated hot air balloon in La Garrotxa, Catalan Pyrenees, Spain on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-59 la_garrotxa

Not feeling in the least bit deflated

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Comments 5

  1. Charli | Wanderlusters

    I imagined it to be so peaceful floating high above the clouds, but how wonderful that you can still hear the world beneath. Like people watching it would be fascinating to listen in to life passing by as you sail past. I’d definitely like to try a hot air balloon tour but I’m really not sure how I’d handle my fear of heights!

  2. Sally

    So nice photographs. really a memorable moment. travelers can enjoy their vacation in this place and take photographs to save their memorable time. Thanks to provide this nice content. I really experienced to study this article.

  3. Joanne

    Very nice reminds me of when i was about 8 years old, a local park were hosting an event and giving free rides to all the children that wanted one .It was only about a 15 or 20 min ride i realize now but as a child seemed much longer. it was exciting to see everyone below as they got smaller and smaller as they waved you off , it was such a memorable experience of course the view was nothing like the view you just showed us but it was still amazing again thanks for sharing it brings back great memories of my childhood.

  4. Joseff

    High above the clouds in the Catalan Pyrénées is just like what I’ve been dreaming of to experience in my life. I think that this is what I should do before I turn 50. This must be very fun and I can see in your photos the best time that you had. Wow! I hope to experience this soon. Thanks for sharing!

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