[TZ 21] Back home

We have arrived at home after two weeks. Overall it has been a very, very successful experience!

We’ve met new people, gathered with old friends, and most important we have flown in fantastic places!! It is for sure a trip to remember forever…

Now back to normal, fully energized and thinking on the next Ultramagic Experience!

[TZ 21] Night glow in Stonetown

This morning we’ve had free time to do some tourism around the island.

In the afternoon we’ve prepared the balloons for the shipment while some were getting ready for a night glow in Mnazi na Mmoja,  Stonetown.

Before night glow 2 balloons have flown over Chwaka Bay, including tanzanian pilot Abeid Soka who was not able to do it the day before because he was busy managing the permits.

We have inflated 6 balloons at 7.30pm for the city to enjoy the show. In the meantime there has been a local band playing a song for the event. The moment has been extraordinary!!

[TZ 21] Chwaka Bay

Amazing flight today crossing Chwaka Bay. Even though we’ve spent all day with preparations we could still enjoy a swim in the ocean.

7 balloons have taken off at the beach and have crossed the bay in a 30 minutes flight. Some have landed in the beach on the other side and some have gone a bit further inland. The retrieve has been smooth with no complications. The views of the balloons over the blue, shallow waters were spectacular.



[TZ 21] Intense flight in Zanzibar

What an exciting day!! The flight preparations went on all day: refueling, getting the balloons ready, and confirming the permit with the authorities.

Finally at 17.45 we’ve had the go to fly from Kidimni. The take off has been a bit stressful but all balloons have been able to fly. A very intense, 15 minutes flight, heading west over the palm trees.

The retrieve has taken more time than expected and we have finished at midnight. Nevertheless it has been a very good experience, using oxcarts as our retrieve vehicles and enjoying the sunset in the beautiful landing area.

[TZ 21] Crossing Ngorongoro

The 2nd flight in Ngorongoro has been very different. We have taken off at 6am from the east side of the crater and have landed in the west rim. The way down to the crater flying over the bushes has amazed everybody.

The light was spectacular, the sky was clear and there was a thin layer of fog falling down to the crater. All 13 balloons could fly together and it was a perfect day for taking pictures.

The balloons have been loaded to the trucks to be sent to Zanzibar. Tomorrow we go to Manyara and relax for a couple of days before the next flight.

[TZ 21] Flying out of Ngorongoro crater

Today’s flight has been very, very special. It is the first time that balloons take off inside Ngorongoro crater! It is also special because everyone has had the chance to fly.

We have crossed the unique landscape of the crater and flown out to the west side. The clouds over the rim of the crater, as well as the animals we have seen there, is an image we will never forget

In the windy landing area we have found many masai villages, and there we have patiently waited for the retrieve. We have all enjoyed a lot the drive back to the campsite.

[TZ 21] Game drive

The day has started with a game drive in Ngorongoro crater. We have been lucky to see many animals in all different landscapes this very special national park has to offer.

After many efforts and with the cooperation of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area director and also the help of tanzanian pilot Abeid Soka, we have been able to carry the balloons down to the take-off site.

The balloons are ready for what is to be the first flight ever out of Ngorongoro crater!

[TZ 21] Marangu to Ngorongoro

We have arrived to Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The views of the crater are spectacular and we are all very excited to fly here.

The camping location had to be changed last minute and so the campsite is not completely set up. Nevertheless the tents are there and we have had a nice dinner.

[TZ 21] Free day

The plan for today was up to each group. Relax, walk around the area, go to the market…

In the meantime the tanks were refueled in Arusha, ready for the upcoming flights in Ngorongoro.

[TZ 21] Kilimanjaro flight

The day has started at 3am. We got at 4.45 to the launch site and the sky was cloudy. We have prepared the balloons before sunrise and has started to rain during the inflation.

We start to take off as soon as possible, knowing the sky is clear above the clouds. The first image of the Kilimanjaro is breathtaking.

Some pilots have been able to cross the main crater, and all balloons have approached both the Mawenzi and Kibo peaks.

The views were beautiful, the weather marvelous and warmer than expected, and everyone has enjoyed a safe flight and landing.

The retrieve has taken some time because of logistics but the atmosphere was relaxed and there were no hurries at all. It has been very emotional when we have all gathered at the meeting point.

We have finished at dinner time and we have celebrated with good catalan cava. We are all very excited for today’s success.


[TZ 21] Kili flight preparations

The second container has arrived and we have spent the day with the final preparations. We have refueled the tanks and set up the oxygen equipment, all in good company and under a bright sun.

Now is everything ready for the big day, and if there are no surprises on weather conditions the flight will take place tomorrow!!

[TZ 21] Marangu

The group has arrived in Marangu, near the take-off area for the Kilimanjaro flight. After a nice meal we have moved to the take-off site to start preparing the balloons. The gas and the oxygen are on site, and one container has arrived.

The second container is still on its way, and since the weather forecast is favorable for Monday it has been decided to finish the preparations tomorrow morning. Now is time to rest and get ready for the Kilimanjaro flight on Monday!

[TZ 21] Arrival to Arusha

We have landed in Nairobi early in the morning and have been picked up by Savanna Expeditions. After having a nice breakfast we have crossed the border to Tanzania and we have finally arrived to Two Mountains Lodge in Arusha by lunchtime.

In the afternoon we have had the first briefing: there are several possible take-off fields for the Kilimanjaro flight and the balloons are expected to arrive in Arusha tomorrow.

We are all very excited to have arrived to Tanzania, for this was the first challenge. Also very happy to meet each other in such a lovely country!

[TZ 21] Final preparations

Already in Marangu with the final preparations and excited to meet the group on Friday. Looking for take-off fields for the Kilimanjaro flight, finalising the arrangements to fly in Ngorongoro area, and still some work to do like preparing the balloons.

Many thanks to Peter Chaga from Savanna Expeditions and all his team, to our good friend Jimmy Mkwawa, and also to the Authorities for their cooperation in what we are sure will be a successful event.

[TZ 21] Prologue

The starting date of the Tanzania Ultramagic Balloon Experience 2021 is getting close and all teams are very excited to participate!

The balloons were shipped end of September and are on their way to Tanzania, and the permits have been successfully managed with the Authorities with the great help of Jimmy Mkwawa.

We are sure it will be an incredible experience in this wonderful country that brings us so many memories.

[ARG 19] Buenos Aires

We are staying the last two days in the capital. Some are going to get a guided visit to Teatro Colón, others prefer to walk in the streets of Sant Telmo and La Boca neighbourhoods. Some more will just stay at the hotel to work and wait for the final dinner tonight at La Estancia. Sasha and Angel already left to their respective homes. Last hours in this beloved country. We will come back!

Buenos Aires Obelisc (Rokas Kostakevicius shoot)
The moon in Buenos Aires (Chris Meyer shoot)
Last Buenos Aires shoot from Sasha Haim.

[ARG 19] Last flight

We had some breakfast at 9 am and at 10:15 we were going to The Vines, a great resort inside the Valle del Huco.

Valle del Huco

We prepared all the balloons of the first truck and at 2 pm we enjoyed a great meal, we tasted the Mendoza wine and after that we started to prepare the balloons of the second truck. It was a bit windy but meteo showed a decreasing of it during the afternoon.

At 4pm first balloons started to inflate. It was a quite calm. Finally we did it, all the balloons in the expedition could fly. 15 balloons invaded El Valle del Huco.

All balloons tried to land as close as possible, again to facilitate the retrieve, and at 7 pm all of them where already in the truck. It was missing only one balloon team that decided to do a longer and further flight, they arrived at 23:30 at the restaurant.

Trucks will go to Buenos Aires tomorrow morning. We are all very tired, it has been a very intense trip, but really worth it. We did amazing flights… memorable for all of us.

[ARG 19] Eclipse flight

We did it! 5 balloons could take off to enjoy the Eclipse in the air. We really wanted all the balloons to fly today but finally it was not possible.

Surface wind started to be strong and turbulent so many of the ballons that were already half inflated had to cancel. This situation was disapointing for many of good friends eventhough the fabulous full Eclipse was terrific from the ground as well.

Eclipse balloon has been the first to take off as their rope couldn’t stand the strong turbulences. Aconcagua balloon burnt some low panels of the envelope while inflating and it dragged the basket through 100 meters before he could get up. The other three balloons didn’t had weird complications in their take off.

Once the balloons took off they could stay near to the airport to be as close as possible to the other members of the expedition and of course to facilitate the retrieve as well. 3 of them managed to land in the same field.

The light was really special, many of us where deeply moved by the wonder of the Earth. It has been an unique event. We are so fortunate to have been here.

The launch field was in Aeropuerto Internacional Valle del Conlara, San Luis province, 4 hours from Mendoza. We woke up at 3:30 am, had breakfast at 4:00 am and ready to go at 4:30 am. The bus had a puncture on the road and we had to wait 2 hours to be that fixed. At 1 pm the pick up drivers where almost all at the lunch point, and the bus arrived 40 minuts later. The pick ups went to the launch field at 2:15 pm to start to prepare all the balloons. We prepared almost all the balloons very fast, it’s our fourth flight and we are getting used to download all the equipment from the trucks.

We had a briefing at 4 pm where Josep exposed his plan for the afternoon and he asked for other proposals in order to prepare the eclipse flight the best way. We finally decided that his proposal was ok. At 5pm we should have started to inflate to be ready to go at 5:30. Full Eclipse has been at 5.45 pm.

We arrived at the hotel at 3 am. We are now back to Mendoza because tomorrow morning we want to fly over the Valle del Huco vineyards. Good night!

[ARG 19] First day off

Today has been a very quiet day. All the members of the expedition had a free day. We all needed it so much.

Josep had to go to talk with the ‘the wines’ manager along with Juani Bravin, our friend in Mendoza, while Roby took care of flight permissions and gas refueling.

We met for lunch some other old friends in Mendoza, the ones that joined Josep, Jaume i Joan’s (ultramagic partners) first expedition in Argentina. Many memories where reminded.

Tomorrow we will have breakfast at 4:00 am. We need to go to sleep because it will be another big day, the eclipse.

Amazing views near the vines cellar

[ARG 19] Aconcagua flight

The Aconcagua flight has come. We are all nervous. We want to fly but we are aware that it’s a special flight due to strong rotors and turbulences that we can encounter while crossing the range. Andes mountains are very unique and towering.

After crossing the Andes

It took some time to prepare the balloons. We needed oxygen and some of the gas bottles pressurized by nytrogen. The planned take off site was to take off inside the Parque Nacional Aconcagua but finnally we moved to a very special place, close to the road and in the middle of the valley more sheltered.

Awesome valley near Aconcagua
Ready to go to the launch field
Looking for the new take off site

Finally 6 balloons flew. Josep was the first, he wanted to share this experience with his daughters and his old friend Mario. Climbing at a rate of 4-6 m/s between 12000 feet and 15000 feet found some turbulence, but not too strong. The good thing has been that direction was along the valley while climbing, so not approaching the side mountains and other balloons could climb slower. Some of the other teams experienced turbulences while descending but the metereology was quite perfect, we were so lucky.

The Aconcagua (6962 meters)

It has been a great sunny day with almost none surface wind and with great speed at 7200 meters (the fastest speed arrived up to 185 km/h). We were really prepared to suffer from cold at high altitude, nevertheless we were comfortable during the flight.

Speed: 165 km/h
Urs and Stefan using oxygen at 7200 meters

The rescue was not easy due to the large distance flight. Most of the balloons landed passing Mendoza and the rescue team could get to them approx. at 6 pm.

We are celebrating the great flight at Antares, a craft bewery. We are very happy, excited that we could enjoy the greatness of the Andes from our balloons.


[ARG 19] Penitentes

We could cross to Penitentes. After three hours waiting they opened the gate at 1 pm. That was the main part of the day, the great news that the snow storm was decreasing and the road was not dangerous anymore. We also had some good news from the truck drivers, they were expecting to arrive tonight. They have been driving for the last 2 days, it’s a long way from Calafate to Mendoza, almost 3000 km.

In Uspallata
Still waiting for the gate to be opened

On the expedition program it was scheduled a trekking but it was snowy and foggy. After visiting Puente del Inca we returned to the hostel to relax and start the preparation for tomorrow’s flight. We where distributed to different apartments. It has been a huge work to allocate all the members as there wasn’t enough staff, we have been told that they didn’t came due to the rough weather.

Penitentes sunset

We did a short and intense briefing at dinner’s place. Josep was really focused on the flight plan and stablishing the minimum preparation and equipment required to successfully do the flight. Stefan Zeberli has talked about Andes dangers and some wise advises for the flight. We will probably have to fly over 7000 meters, an unexpected altitude. It seems that 8 teams are interested to fly. Now is time to rest, tomorrow a very challenging flight awaits us.

First part of the briefing
Angel explaining how to use a flare

[ARG 19] Mendoza

Today has been a long day. After a nice and relaxing night at Kosten Aike Hotel we went to the airport at 7 am to catch the first flight of the day (Calafate-Buenos Aires). There’s no direct flight from Calafate to Mendoza, so we did Calafate-Bs As and Bs As- Mendoza the same day.

Before landing in Mendoza

When we arrived to Bs As we had 4 hours to spend to the capital so most of the pilots decided to enjoy a delicious asado. During Calafate days we enjoyed nice vegetarian food but most of us where eager to eat a piece of Argentinian meat. First try was Don Julio but they where full. At the end we split in different groups and we found really special restaurants to enjoy the meal.

Amazing costillar

At 6 pm we all met at Aeroparque again to fly to Mendoza. Once arrived to Mendoza we quickly organized all the luggage to fit in a big bus and 5 pick ups, 3 of them kindly sponsored by Territorio Yacopini.

On our way to Penitentes we found the road closed, we couldn’t arrive there due to the iced road. The town closest to the gate was Uspallata so we had to reorganize the dinner and the hotel booking for 70 people. It was already 9 pm so we where worried about the situation. Roby, our Argentinian dealer, and a great help to carry out the whole expedition, could nicely take care of the situation. Valle Andino hotel has hosted us for tonight and we nicely tasted a nice ‘parrillada’ in a nearby restaurant.

Enjoying the ‘parrillada’

[ARG 19] Travelling day

This morning we split in three different groups. Finally we could enjoy the Fitz Roy mountain really clear during sunrise and after 11 am. During the flight we didn’t had that chance.

Fitz Roy during sunrise

The first group decided to do the longest trekking (9 hours) starting at 5:30 am and reaching the Fitz Roy base.

Fitz Roy base

The second one started at 8 am and the goal was Laguna Torre, a beatiful lake at the foot of the same mountain.

Sunrise during the trekking
Fitz Roy viewer during the trekking
Laguna Torre

The last group started at 10 am and did Laguna Capri, a 3 hours suitable trekking, with Fitz Roy just behind it.

Near Laguna Capri

After the trekking we met at Rancho Grande and we went directly to Calafate. We could take more Fitz Roy nice pictures from the road.

On our way back to Calafate

We returned the pick ups to the rental car enteprise, enjoyed of a great meal at the hotel and we moved to Shackelton bar to listen to some lovely live tango music.

[ARG 19] Chalten flight

Today has been a great day for all of us. We started at 6:30 a.m. taking the balloons from Rancho Grande to the launch field. We needed the pick-ups to get in because there was a really muddy way to get into the chosen field. The pick-ups needed to make up to 4 rides to take all the material to the launch field.

At 9.00 a.m. all the balloons were ready to blow up. The mountains were covered and the direction of the wind was not clear. The weather forecasts weren’t very helpful as each one showed different results.

Wednesday 12 UTM :cloudy/rainy, cloudy, cloudy, sunny, sunny, snowy, cloudy/rainy, snowy, rainy !!!

Finally, around 10.30 a.m. the sky started to clear up. 12 balloons decided to take off.

It was an amazing flight. We had a superb view of the valley thanks to the slow surface winds.

We knew that if we decided to go higher (3000 meters), we could approach to the only road in order to facilitate the retrieve. During the flight, many of the pilots decided to go higher to find faster winds, around 70 km/h. The flight was really exciting, we were able to see two glaciers, a spectacular lake and different valleys. 

We had to fly above the clouds to be able to land in the only road of the area.

Pilots and rescue team did a great job, at 6.00 pm all the balloons were loaded in the truck, even the ones that remained further from the road.Tomorrow morning both trucks have to go as fast as possible to Penitentes. There has been strong snowfalls and we are not sure that they can reach the city in three days.

Now we are celebrating the success of the flight and deciding which trekking we will do tomorrow.

[ARG 19] Perito Moreno trekking

The second day of the expedition has been highly marked by the intense visit to the Glaciar Perito Moreno. On our way to the park, we saw another spectacular sunrise from the car.

Sunrise on the road to Perito Moreno Glacier

At 10.30 a.m. we arrived to Puerto Sombras, the launch field of yesterday’s flight. The boats depart from that port to cross the lake. We were lucky to be part of the very special trekking over the glacier.

Crossing the lake

We have been equipped with crampons, a new experience for the most people of the group.

Before the trekking

We learned many things about Perito Moreno origin and behavior. Everyone was excited about being on this huge glacier.

Perito Moreno trekking
Walking over the glacier

Some guides were waiting for us with a nice glass of whiskey and a bombon (a chocolat sweet) for everyone.

Perito Moreno beach

Once the boat returned us to Puerto Sombras, we loaded the 6 pick-ups with the equipment that stayed on the field during the night. We were lucky enough to fit all the material in the pick-ups as we weren’t allowed to move again the truck inside the park.

Next, we have gone to the footbridge, there we have eaten something for lunch and enjoyed the magnificent views of the glacier from another point of view. Then, we met with the rescue team, they had gone for one of the balloons that we did not took out the day before. They dismantled and assembled the fence in order to access the field to get back the balloon.

Around 3.00 p.m., one of the trucks was on its way to el Chaltén, to make sure that it would make it to the flight programmed for the next day. At 9.00 p.m. we have arrived to el Chaltén and we went to see two possible taking off points.

We are very lucky, the weather is great, and it has not snowed yet, so the access to the field is pretty easy. Tomorrow morning, we will choose which one of the taking off places is the best one. It is 11.00 p.m. and one team are finishing adjusting the burner to the guesthouse’s kitchen, it is going to be a long night.

[ARG 19] Perito Moreno flight

Yesterday night all the teams joined in Kosten Aike Hotel, Calafate. Josep Ma did a general breafing at 10 pm sharing the difficulties of the few roads and coverage to do the rescue, to advise the drivers in taking care of the iced roads, and planned the perfect flight for the next day. Meteo was not promising and very changing inside the Park, but today was the best chance to try to fly near the glaciar Perito Moreno.

We arrived at the park entrance at 9:00, it was forbbiden to get in earlier as the Park is closed. We could enjoy a spectacular sunrise from there. It seemed it was the perfect day to fly close to the Perito Moreno, but once we got to the launch field it became more and more windy. We shared our thoughts in a first breafing at 11 am, where we decided that it was no safe enough to take off, we should wait.

There were strong turbulences. At last, around 12 pm top pilots decided that it was the perfect spot to take off. The first 5 balloons could take off from Perito Moreno Glaciar. During the inflation of other 3 balloons the snow, wind and the deep clouds invaded the Glaciar. We had to cancel the flight for the other balloons.

We had some difficulties in the rescue team to reach the balloons. It was a great help the use of Yellow Brick and flightpacktracker, an app that keeps the track of the flight and allows you to navigate to the landing area. Amazing pictures were taken during the flight.


28 March  Barcelona Accra

Arrived in Accra all the Ultramagic team after waiting one day in Barcelona because cancelation of the KLM flight to Amsterdam.

20 people working in Ultramagic with companions want to beb resent for the inauguration and we are all very proud of that.

All were relocated in different planes, but we joined all late night. We go sleep quickly in hotel nearby the airport to wake up early to drive to Amoma for the inauguration of the school.

29 March  Accra – Amoma School Inauguration – Techiman

Breakfast at 5 a.m. and planned to go 5:30 with some delay, we sit in a comfortable bus to finish our sleep and or watching curious at the window to not miss anything interesting so different from our latitudes.



After 10 hours in the bus, we arrive at the village of Amoma for the inauguration of the school. Our incredible surprise is the welcome we have.

All the village and many vip persons from the region are present to know about this project and why the school was built with the participation of many pilots around the world that flew the balloon Friendship.

Young children dancing, speeches, presents to us, inflation of the Friendship balloon  for a tethering and great inauguration.





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A plate was discovered placed in the wall of the main entrance to explain about the idea of Andrew Holly with the Friendship Balloon, about Ultramagic and it’s African origins and about why the school in Ghana.


Above all a very nice and surprising afternoon with the inauguration that made everybody happy thinking that the school will be very useful for developement in the area.

30 March Techiman – Mole National Park


After sleeping in Techiman, we start our trip to Mole National Park. This is the most important Park i Ghana where you can see elefants among other wildlife. So even it is far away for the short time trip we think it is worth.

On the way, we stop to see a monkey sanctuary where we walk around for a while sorrounded of big impressive red mahogany trees . Joan can follow the walk sitting in a motorcycle so all can enjoy the viewing of the monkeys very close.


Just before arriving the park we visit an ancient mosque in Larabanga. The mosque they tell is almost 600 years old. Very interesting.


Once arrived at the National Park, distribution of rooms and plan for night game drive. We all want to profit the short stay and it is worth because you never know what can be seen. Also we explain shortly that we plan to do a morning Flight with two balloons: the Friendship and the Tramuntana.

31 March Mole National Park

As we want to profit the maximum, the plan is early morning Flight, breakfast, jeep safari afterwards, lunch, walking safari, dinner and night safari with jeep. We have been lucky enough to accomplish all.



Early get up and meet to prepare the balloons. At 5 a.m. we finally decide to take off from the main road close to the rangers office and the motel, so they know about us and they do not think we are hiding anything. With the balloons already inflated, it seems there was some misunderstanding the previous day, but is too late to stop and we take off.





We can see an elephant in the pool far away, and a few animals during the flight, but we are so excited and happy with the landscape and the flight  itself, that it does not matter much. We fly for 1 hour and 10 minutes and we see we can arrive to a “road” near a village already outside the Park. The winds are fair and we alos clloimb to 1500 m to check directions. As we do not have much gas ( Friendship with 39 Kg and Tramuntana with 73 Kg), the plan continue to make an easy flight and join the rest of the group for the safaris. Josep M flies finally the Friendship together wih Pablo so we can hve good pictures, and the Tramuntana is flown by Carles, Neus, Philippe and Yao. We land both balloons very close so the retrieve is not complicated because not  many roads and we can point well the landing spot in the road.





Morning safari very interesting because we can have close view of a nice group of elephants as we are allowed to go out of the car and watch their impressive presence. Warthogs, different kind of impalas, etc complete the morning safari.




The walking safari has been very interesting. It is still hot at the start because it is 15:30 hours, but soon the armed guide follows the track of an elephant and we all follow behind. When we see this great animals in the bush and we can follow them close and seeing how they are moving, drinking, dusting, eating, etc. it’s an unforgettable experience. Overall is for many of the group being the first time they see this animals free. It is a wonderful experience for all of us and we come back happy at the hotel to rest. Just arriving an African storm arrives, so we can be happy to be back on time.






Dinner and night safari. We sk if they have cancelled because of the rain, and they tell us program follows as planned. So we go for it. We can see some small animals, owls, genet, and maybe the most  interesting a puff adder snake just besides the road. First half hidden ( I don’t know how they can see it), but being near  the road, we can take a  picture very close because moving very slow.





Back to the hotel, but still soon, we make open again the bar to  ave our last beer in the park to comment all the day personal experiences we have felt.


1 April Mole – Accra

We have a long trip back, so we decide to get up early, have breakfast, and start travelling so we can have some stop in the way.

Near Techiman, just close to the road there is a waterfall that we profit to visit and have a bath.


Twelve hours in a comfortable bus, with a couple stops, one of them for dinner make the trip reasonably good as this main road is quite in very fair condition.

2 April Accra – plane to Barcelona

The plan is to do a tethered flight in Accra. Unfortunately is sufficiently windy and without having a good area to inflate the Friendship balloon, after looking several places, we decide to cancel the flight.


We visit all Jamestown that is the fishing market village in Accra where we can see the difficult conditions is working a lot of people.


After a visit to Mokole Market, the main market in Accra, relatively calm but still very interesting, because is holiday, we go to an area to buy some souvenirs to take home for our families.



Having lunch including birthday cake for Constança and resting for a while in the swimming pool to wait for the return plane to Barcelona after a compressed week unforgettable for all of us.

Coming to the Inauguration of the school in Amoma many people working in Ultramagic and relatives or friends, has made this trip very special for all of us.



With this trip the project of the Friendship Balloon is finished, but the balloon still will be flying in the meantime is airworthy, so more pilots can fly this special balloon.

MADAGASCAR Ultramagic Balloon Experience

madagascar 2016 ok 2



 7th May Flight in Antsirabe and back home

No coffee at 4:30 when we get up, so we go directly to the launch field to check if all equipment arrived. Unfortunately the truck is not there  and for the information we receive, it will not arrive early.

So we have to manage to fly as much Balloons as possible for the equipment we have.



At the end can fly 6 balloons with not much gas, but enough to make a wonderful Flight again. We have to use  the pingouins so more Balloons can fly and pilots know they are special Balloons that they have to take care even more. The landscape is very diferent and all pilots appreciate very much the Flight .









We go back to hotel relatively soon to have a full breakfast and we do the picture of all group now that we have some time left.

We go with the buses to Tana like sardines in a can, but we are all happy at least most could fly.



A short stop on the way to have a taste of the excellent “foie gras” is made in the area and when arriving Tana,  all the group stays for a couple hours in the center .

Later we go at the hotel near the airport to have a farewell dinner and we accompany all the teams to the airport to go back home.

We believe it has been a wondefful experience with both groups and we feel satisfied everybody has acted as part of the group to help in what was possible for him or her. This gives us energy to think in another Ultramagic Experience in the future, but this will be another story.

 6th May Travel to Antsirabe

We have breakfast at 8 a.m. and we know the missing team will arrive around 10, so we wait for them in the main road, to  avoid them the 20 minutes of bad road to hotel. So all team is joined again and some stories with the porters, trucks, pick  ups, etc. Come out. We make 50 km and one minibus is broken and we have to wait for ovver one hour the replacement. Then we realize how lucky we have been with so  much vehicles and very few stories.











We see again the Balloon designed in the hills surprisingly.

A nice lunch at half way make the trip to Antsirabe easier and then we can take some pick ups so we can all go more comfortable in all vehicles.



Waiting to make the convoy for the unsafe area for more than two hours and different problems with cars made us arrive at 1:30 a.m. at the hotel. So the vehicle’s story has changed a little bit.

We will see then how many Balloons arrive at the take off site and we will share them in the best way. Friendship  Balloon still not arrived in Bekopaka.


5th May Return to Morondava

After having  a good rest, we start organizing the come back to Morondava. The Kon-tiki team starts to move with the rest of equipment from the  landing point to reach the aerodrome where can arrive the truck to load it. By 12 a.m. we know all is there, except a Basket and some cylinders that are in te Tsingy parking  as was planned before.

The pick ups loaded with all equipment there in Bekopaka with all teams moves back to Morondava.



Exceptional  good lunch before the big ferry and arrival at the evening  in Morondava . All equipment except Friendship Balloon is coming, but unfortunately the ferry in the night stops and team Kon-tiki have to sleep in the village.





Comfortable evening in the hotel with cold Beer and relax as we plan not to fly the next morning. Then we know all the equipent of the 7 teams together is arrived to Bekopaka but the Friendship Balloon not yet.



4t May Flight over Tsingy and retrieve

We drop a balloon at 5:15 and the winds at low altitude are not much as predicted, but we trust that in altitude will be from N-NW so we decide to take off as we thi nk it is safe.

Low we go NW but as soon as we start to climb, we find a layer going NE so it is perfect to enter the Tsingy. It is so vaste that we can fly there easily. When we are deep in, we descend to be close to the ground needles and we have one of the most amazing flights ever. This is the sherry in the cake and we have done it. This are some of the pictures that make a little justice to what could be seen. We ill never forget.
















We continue flying low direction NW to go out of Tsingy with the idea when we are west enough to climb and go SE. Then we see  village in the “track” of the map where we are pointing and as we are all balloons nearb we decide to land near there. We hhave thought that if we are all together, the retriieve, even difficult, can be easier than if we are spread climbing and going south East because at the East of Bekopaka also is not easy landing.

After landing there and the villagers start to come and help, we take all the equipment to a good shadow so we join all the teams there except two. One comtinued far away north and the other is in the previous village very near, so we meet later.



Once known th situation they tell us the road is not anymore ther and even cannot arrive the zebu chariots. So we start negotiation with them to carry all the material. The village is not big enough to have people to take all equipment, but we start to move until another village that there are chariots. 6 or 4 people for the envelopes, one for the each cylinder and 4 people for the baskets. They are  very strong and go faster than us even with bad tracks.





We arrive at 4 p.m. to that village, but no chariots. Start negotiation again as it is getting dark soon and we are in straight line to the take off site at 5.5 km . We all  dream witth a cold beer in the hotel and this speed us to the Tsingy park site where we took  off in the morning and we have the  pick ups. I don’t know how they do to carry a basket in the night with just one lamp in front and the porters behind seeing nothing, but they do even the track is really not flat at all.



Miquel, Carles and Joan have stayed in the first village to be sure all is taken and they will sleep there because  there are not enough porters to do it today.

Anyway the day has been full of stories for everybody and we are all happy to be back safe even the retrieve is still being complicated.

3rd May Tsingy visit and sleep at take off site

As there is no flight, we can get up later. Around 9:30 we start for the Tsingy. To do the full visit walking there to have a look and to camp for next morning flight if possible.

After more  than two hours to arrive the parking site, we organize several groups and check the take off spot. It needs some villagers to cut a big space for the balloons, and theye tell me will be done when we come back of the visit.






It is one of the most interesting places visited and walking up and down is very amazing. No other place out of Madagascar has this impressive landscape.







After arrival, we check and prepare all the balloons staying to try. We are 8 teams staying there and the good surprise is that we have tents and a nice dinner prepared by a cook there.

We go sleep early because we want to be ready for next day.


2nd May Flight in Baobab Av. And travel to Bekopaka


Breakfast at 4 a.m. and departure at 4:30 with all  lugagge so we have not to return to hotel when we finish the Flight and then we can continue in the same road to go Tsingy.


Finally some balloons could take off  before sunrise. Wind direction to N-NE at a nice speed.








A  lot of Baobabs in the area that makes the Flight again unforgetable. We stay low because direction up is the same, but with more speed.



Landing of balloons is spread, and we pass over a very nice field near a lake and a road that after we blame we have not profit. Just a couple km away we have to land and the retrieve takes a couple hours more. It’s  a good advise for Tsingy.





After refuelling in Baobab Av. We start driving to  Bekopaka. An interesting route with a couple ferries that make the trip very varied and absent minded.





We arrive around 9 p.m., we have a  nice dinner and ready for next busy day.


1st May First flight in Avenue des Baobab

Target has been to take off before sunrise. We have coffee at 4 a.m. and departure at 4:15 to have enough time. Again has not been possible because we have had to distribute the equipments and we had just 4 fans. Tomorrow we will try again…

Anyway the flight wonderful. This landscape with the baobabs is incredibly special and we are all very happy to be here to fly. The forecast has not been precise, and we can fly in any direction, so the flight is relatively comfortable.






Youngest and oldest participants in the Madagascar Ultramagic Experience have been flying together enjoying both with their particular  sensibility.


Baobabs coming out of a light fog makes a so special place to fly that we are all astonished. Also the rice fileds, some lakes, palms and villages make the flight unforgettable for all.


All land in different locations, but all have a good retrieve. Drivers already have experience and they are smart to know the landing place  is not too complicated. So we are all for breakfast time and after we do refuelling for next morning flight , already much better organized the equipments and we will try again a take off before sunrise…


In the afternoon we have gone to Morondava to see the sunset having a drink in the beach, relaxed. We have taken nice pictures, even sunset was cloudy.

A nice dinner and ready again to get up early for tomorrow flight.


30th April Travel to Antsirabe

As we know the trip is long, we get up relatively early and we start travelling at 8 a.m.

We can see the beauty of landscape as most of travel is in day light and It changes often. No power lines make them more attractive for the beauty and also for pilots.

We stop for lunch  at half way, so it has been a pleasant trip even we arrive a little tired after more than 10 hours.




Arrival at hotel continues with the same bad road, but is compensated with a nice dinner and some beer before doing the briefing to prepare the flight of next morning.




29th April Group 2 arrival and travel to Antsirabe

All teams arrived safely even tired for the long trip. We have slept in the hotel and in this morning again examination to new pilots by Civil Aviation on Madagascar Air Law and Tropical Weather. They passed all the theorical test and have been given a certificate.

As we enjoyed the Lemur’s Park yesterday, we have gone again today because the travel to Antsirabe is reasonably  short and there is time.


A good lunch in the way , with arrival to hotel just after sunset, has permitted us a relaxed day.




28th April GROUP 1 BACK HOME

Today we could sleep well in Antsirabe as there is a “short” time to Tana. We profit arriving early to go visit the Lemur’s Park just 25 km from Tana. It’s a nice park that even not totally free, the lemurs go around and you can see them quite close. We think is a good option so we can take some close pictures.




We made a picture there of all the group. We enjoyed a lot being together and doing 5 wonderful flights in Madagascar. Everybody was very helpful and solving any problem by themselves and helping others. A 100 % satisfaction.




We have had dinner in same hotel that they arrived the first night and that the second group will be lodging tonight. Farewell in the airport and ready for the new challenges for the second group.

27th April Last Flight Group 1in Avenue des Baobabs

As we knew the area, we thought could be nice to take off just before sunrise… We got up very early, at 4 a.m. so we had enough time, but takes time to prepare all and was late when we left for the site.





Anyway, wind was nice to the North and we probably relaxed a little bit. Low fog after taking off and some speed to the North. Landscape of course again exceptional so we could fully enjoy it . When we were descending, the speed was about 12 knots near the fog, I was a little worried to not find a Baobab in the way.


Fortunately the fog was a little high and even you could see the ground, was difficult to see in front and the distance to ground.



After passing the fog layer, that it was high enough, we checked for a track and seeing other two balloons ready for landing we took same decision near a nice lake. All retrieves were more complicated than other days, and it made us the travel to Antsirave to arrive late including the caravan with soldiers to pass an area not too safe.



We arrived tired to Antsirabe, but still could have a nice dinner at the
hotel Vatolahy.

26th April Returning to Morondava

After doing a nice Flight yesterday, we plan to arrive early back to Morondava. We need to fill some gaz for next morning and we decided to make 3 groups so the return is scaled and not to have to wait too much in the Ferries and also in the mud areas.




Anyway starting to move between 6 a.m. and 7:30, we arrived the last group around 7 p.m., but again with a nice lunch on the way. We have prepared all the gaz for next morning Flight and now a good dinner and to be ready for the last Flight with the group 1.

25th April Wonderful flight in Bekopaka




We get up early in the morning and first thing is to check if the truck arrived. Fortunately the second truck was sent , arrived at 3 a.m. even it coul;d not take all the equipment because it was smaller.

Anyway helium was there and we could dropa  balloopnb and Stefan told us about the different layers, so it was possible to return to the launch field or nearby. This cheer up everybody to fly as it is a complicated area. So we took off from the football field and at  about 400 m we were heading to East to approach the Petit Tsingy.

The landscape was very nice and we could see the gorge of the river that was some km East.



The flight was challenging because very few roads, but 9 balloons managed to come back to the launch field after one hour flight. We were all satisfied of the flight as we had lots of numbers in the lottery that the truck could not arrive. Our truck is still stocked in the mud and hope it can be soon out of it, but as the truck cannot go around the muddy areas because it is too big, for the moment is there.








We could well relax and in the afternoon we went for a visit to the Little Tsingy. All we enjoyed as it is a very spectacular and unique landscape.

24th April “Relax” day in Tsingy

It had to be a relax day. We have had breakfast around 8 a.m. to be ready to go to Grand Tsingy at 9 a.m. to make the visit there and have a look to find good spots to Take off and landing.

After a couple of hours waiting to have the guides, we started to move with some difficulties because some drivers were putting troubles to come there. The road is really bad and at the first difficulty, and get stocked in the mud, some teams decided to go for a good rest and go back to hotel.



The rest we continued with a lot of stops because some 4×4 cars and drivers were not good enough and were getting stocked quite often. The last 2 km to the entrance of the park we went walking under a quite shining sun.

So we arrived too late to make the full circuit, but we had the possibility to have a look at this wonderful and incredible landscape . We learned a lot and was quite useful to know what is possible to do or not.




In the meantime the truck that did not arrived the day before, was stocked when coming with the gas, fans, some envelope and the helium. Vincent was taking care and wew were sure he find a solution for tomorrow we can fly.

So the decision was clear to Take off next day from Bekopaka to try to approach the “Samll Tsingy” if the wind conditions were helping and the truck arrives.




23rd April Flight in Morondava – Tsingy

Today we could arrive earlier at the take of site. The place is so nice that it was worth again. Also as it is in the way to Tsingy we decided to have early breakfast and take all the luggage with us.




We all took off at the same time and we could take very nice pictures. Thre idea was to return to take off site after the Flight as soon as possible, so some landed there having done a perfect elbow. All pilots leave there the cylinders and started travelling to Tsingy as soon as possible.























Jaume, Joan and myself flew together again in Africa and we were very happy we could do once more in this so beaiutiful landscape.




The way to Tsingy has been a small adventure with some cars stocked in the mud, so we arrived around 9 p.m.




Night  was short but it was worth to get up early again. Breakfast later than ordered and truck with fans and some balloons just arrived 6:30. So Take off was finnally at 7:15.










Wind layers were very good so several pilots were able to return to field and continue for a nice Flight over the baobabs till the road of the hotel. It was good also because arrival road to hotel needs some repair and everybody liked the idea.



The Baobab Avenue is one of the top symbols of Madagascar and it is very much reasonable when you arrive there.




Today we had the opportunity to fly Joan, Maricarmen and Monica from the factory, so it was a very special flight after 20 years working in Ultramagic.




Here some pictures of the flight, but everybody  has some anmazing one’s.




After breakfast and refueling we had time to relax and go the afternoon to  Morondava.







This morning after coffee at 4:30 a.m. we decided to follow the forecast and go the theTO site in the lake Andraikiba. Nice place with a big take off field and thinking we could take already there nice pictures.









Flight was much better than expected as we had winds up to 20 km per hour not too high and in the good direction. Wind was following approximately the main road, so we could do a wonderful flight without trouble in the retrieves, even we had some to talk to farmers to carry out of the field the balloon because near the road, does not mean that the car arrives to the field. Pictures I hope make justice to the flight as we were all very satisfied. Here are some of them, but for sure there are a lot that will make all think we were lucky to be there.






As the program was tight , we could just refuel 8 balloons, and then after a nice  breakfast and a picture of all the team, we left for Morondava.  10 hours with a nice landscape, but all happy that the Madagascar Ultramagic Experience started well. After so much months waiting for this, we are all happy.


We arrived quite late to Morondava, but we have had a nice dinner all together. Now sleep for a few hours and let-s try for the Baobab Avenue. The totem landscape of Madagascar.



20th April. ANTANANARIVO – ANTSIRABE : Preparing for the first flight

We are all excited that tomorrow we hope we can do the first flight in Madagascar. But before that, this morning all pilots had to pass an examination of Madagascar Air Law and Tropical Weather. All went well, even we were all tired because all pilots arrived from their homes the day before after a long trip. Including a delay to get the luggage due to some technical, we arrived at the hotel after 2 a.m. A welcome with the banners used for the Press  Conference in Tana were at the entrance of the hotel.


So we started our trip to Antsirabe. Landscape is nice and interesting from the start to get out of the capital. It takes a lot of time because of traffic and high extended population, but with the buses , we were comfortable. Stop for lunch half way and taste of “foie gras” and magre de canard helped us to continue the road.


All pilots looking at the landscape and searching for landing spots and tracks for the recovery while admiring the beauty af the area.


A technical stop to buy some peanuts and apples made it shorter the trip.


After arrival and having the rooms at hotel, we have gone to prepare the balloons. With a little bit confusion on the cylinders and equipments, after a couple hours we manage to have all loaded in 10 pick ups and a big truck.


Evening dinner at the hotel has been quiet and we have made a briefing with some information for tomorrow. Wind forecast is for a slow winds from the East early morning, but we will get up at 4 a.m. to see how accurate are the web pages we check.

We celabrated also the 30th anniversary of Neus with a delicious big cake.


PROLOGUE 16th April

Soon will be arriving one  group of balloon teams to participate in the MADAGASCAR Ultramagic Balloon Experience. We are sure will be an incredible experience in this wonderful country very unknown for most of us.

Now finishing with the preparation, thanks to Hans Rambelomanana and Vincent Dupuis, all is being orgainzed in detail also with the cooperation of the Authorities of Madagascar who are helping to what we are sure will be a succesful event.  Yesterday we had several meetings with the Authorities to coordinate the Balloon flights and all the trip.



Today we arrived Antsirabe to check the balloons, test the gaz and organize the equipment. We checked the general GPS that will be following all the trip with points every 3 hours since the 20th.




Tomorrow we will look for take off places in this wonderful area and check one of the GPS that will be active just during the flights with points every 5 minutes that will allow us make easier the retrieve and that will be possible to follow in the other map with a smaller area.

Landscape is incredible and I prefer just to put one picture (not the best) to not advance what will be a very challenging but at the same time enjoying experience.