Ballooning in Marrakech: prices, information & our tips
If you’re planning a visit to Marrakech in the near future, in addition to visiting the city’s historical and cultural sites, you’ll certainly be planning to make other discoveries. Among all the activities on offer in and around Marrakech, there’s one that should grab your attention: a hot-air balloon flight over the Marrakech region.
I was lucky enough to be able to enjoy this very special experience during my last stay in Morocco, and in this little guide, I’m going to share it with you. I’m going to tell you all about hot-air ballooning in Marrakech, and show you everything you can expect from this activity, which is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip to Morocco.
Discover the Marrakech region from the air
The first thing you need to know about this activity is that it won’t be taking place in Marrakech itself, but a little way out of town. You’ll take off a few kilometers north of the palm grove, in a desert area close to a typical village. In the morning, you’ll be picked up by the service provider at a pre-selected time and place, depending on where you’re staying in Marrakech, and the drive to the take-off site will take around 30 to 40 minutes.
Hot-air balloon flights take place at the beginning of the day, so you can enjoy the sunrise over the Moroccan desert. You’ll spend about an hour in the basket, flying over the region.
A hot-air balloon flight is something you should experience at least once, wherever you are. But witnessing the sunrise over this magnificent desert landscape, with the Atlas Mountains in the distance, really adds to the experience! This morning spent flying over the region will undoubtedly remain one of your fondest memories of Morocco.
How does a hot-air balloon flight in Marrakech work?
First step: get up early
On the day of your balloon flight, forget about sleeping in! As is often the case, flights in Marrakech are organized in the morning, not only because the weather conditions are optimal, but also because sunrise is one of the most beautiful times of the year.
Especially if you’re traveling during the summer, the sun rises at around 6:30 a.m. and you’ll need to be on site and ready to board a few minutes before then, so you’ll need to leave in the middle of the night before 5 a.m. Most of the time, you’ll be picked up directly at your hotel or riad. The cost of the journey is included in the price of the flight.
Preparing for the flight
Once on site, you’ll witness the preparations, including balloon inflation. This stage takes around 30 minutes, from the moment the balloon is folded on the ground to the moment it is sufficiently inflated with hot air for the balloon to take off. You’ll also be given a brief introduction to the various safety instructions.
About 5 minutes before sunrise, it’s time for take-off. You’ll leave terra firma aboard the gondola at just the right altitude to enjoy the show that follows, and watch the sun rise behind the Atlas Mountains.
A flight over the Marrakech region
For around an hour, you’ll be able to admire the region’s landscapes as you move along at between 15 and 25 km/h. First you’ll discover the nearby village and the surrounding desert, then as you gain altitude, you’ll be able to see a large part of the region, with Marrakech in the distance.
As you fly over the desert, you’ll change altitude regularly (from around 1000 m to 2000 m), passing over a variety of contrasting sites, with mountainous landscapes, arid zones and cultivated plots. A truly tranquil moment, where you might even feel as if you’re alone in the world.
Colors alter as the sun ascends higher in the sky.. Other hot-air balloons are likely to be flying by your side, above or below you, and the bright colors of their balloons can make the panoramas even more beautiful.
Landing and typical breakfast
Then it’s time for the landing. The itinerary is much the same, but the route and distance covered are not always strictly the same, since hot-air balloons always fly with the wind.
The landing is very gentle, and after setting foot on the ground, you’ll head back to the village close to the take-off site, to enjoy breakfast in a Berber tent, including mint tea, fruit juices, yoghurts, Moroccan crepes and homemade bread.
After this tasting, you can opt to take a camel ride through the desert, and then you’ll be taken back to your departure point.
Prices for a hot-air balloon flight in Marrakech
Hot-air balloon flights over the Marrakech area are offered by a number of companies, and the offerings are remarkably similar in terms of both scope and cost.. The Ciel d’Afrique agency organizes the excursion I chose, and booking this activity online has nothing but advantages.
One can make reservations up to two months in advance.
For adults and children aged 11 and over, this activity costs €180 per person.
For children aged 4 to 10, this activity costs €92 per person.
You should think about booking your hot-air balloon flight in Marrakech.
I recommend that you book your hot-air balloon flight in Marrakech online, because that’s how you’ll get the best prices. Spaces are limited, and booking online early enough will also make it easier for you to choose the date. In just a few clicks, you can choose the date and number of participants, and pay in euros to avoid additional bank charges. What’s more, in the event of unforeseen circumstances, you can cancel up to the day before and obtain a full refund.
Likewise, should the weather conditions make it impossible to carry out the activity, reimbursement will be easy to obtain.
Preparing for your hot-air balloon flight
To make the most of this activity, a few precautions are in order. First of all, it’s important to remember that in the desert, especially at altitude and at sunrise, it’s often quite cool. So make sure you’re well covered. Once the sun rises, it’s very hot, so it’s also a good idea to bring a cap.
On board a hot-air balloon, the best seats are at the corners of the basket, simply because that’s where you’ll enjoy the widest panorama.
It’s also where you’ll be best placed to take photos.
And if you want to immortalize your flight, here are a few tips for taking hot-air balloon photos:
Make sure your camera is ISO-capable. Flights take place in the morning, when the light is not yet optimal, and an FX (full-frame) camera will be a plus.
As the balloon is in motion, you’ll also need to adapt your exposure time. During the flight, you can at least halve it.
The landscape is not the only subject, and the balloon is also part of the scenery. Don’t hesitate to photograph it even during inflation.
If possible, take your shots in RAW format, so that you can try to correct them later if necessary.
Of course, make sure you have your camera or smartphone firmly in hand. Even if they are rare, jolts can occur on board, and using a hand strap or sling can come in handy.
If you suffer from vertigo, you have nothing to worry about! As the balloon is not connected to the ground, no inner-ear disturbance is caused, and you won’t experience any imbalance or seasickness.
You should also bear in mind that a desert balloon flight can always be cancelled, due to weather conditions in particular. In fact, if you’d like to know the best time to go to Marrakech, don’t hesitate to consult my article on the subject.
In the event of cancellation, you will usually be offered to reschedule your flight, sometimes as early as the next day. That’s why I really recommend that you plan this experience early enough in your stay, and even as early as the second day.
In any case, I really recommend that you don’t wait until the last day to make sure you can make the flight. If your flight is cancelled and you can’t reschedule it for a later date, you can of course get a full refund, but it would be a real shame to miss out on this activity.