Myanmar and Bhutan from the (hot) air

Ballooning, safari-style, to explore stunning temples and scenery

Ballooning over the temple complex in Bagan, Myanmar, with Eastern Safaris
Ballooning over the temple complex in Bagan, Myanmar, with Eastern Safaris

Brett Melzer and Khin Omar Win of Eastern Safaris (www.easternsafaris.com) have long held the keys to Bagan in Myanmar, with their balloon trips over the temple complex on many a first-time visitor’s to-do list (pictured). The company recently completed a test-run balloon safari from Pindaya in the Shan Mountains to the floating gardens of Inle Lake, landing beside the Irrawaddy River before finishing back among Bagan’s temples. In December and January, this reconnaissance trip will be translated into a five-night journey. The balloon charter, complete with boats, drivers and hotels, costs $8,000 per person for a minimum of six and maximum of eight travellers.

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No strangers to frontier logistics, Eastern Safaris is also offering ballooning in Bhutanfrom next spring. Set in the undeveloped Gangte Valley, a five-hour drive from Paro’s international airport, the company’s base is the new 12-suite Gangte Goenpa Lodge(from $650), which has taken three years to build. Opening this month, the wood-and-stone lodge has in-room fireplaces to counter the Himalayan nights, while the lounge opens to monastery views. To better this lofty perch, you’ll need to take to the air when the valley’s protected black-necked cranes are not in residence.

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