The lesser known alternative to hot air ballooning over Bagan is to ballon over Lake Inle, a different but as good experience (here’s a comparison).
The 5am cold start was a little tough but worth it alone for the half hour boat ride across Lake Inle in the dark. Not really possible to photograph but it was quite magical gliding along under a star filled sky reflected in the dark waters, passing fishermen using lights to attract fish.
We took off from a field close to one of the villages built basically on the lake. The solid land is clear from the air as where trees grow. After some inflation we were ready to go.
We started by slowly floating just above the village and their neighbouring floating gardens, which was probably the highlight of the flight. We were close enough to say hello (Mingalabar!) to the people below in their houses who came out to wave. It was like an expensive and less controllable version of a drone flight, only you’re there looking down, rather than seeing it from a screen.
The floating gardens catching the morning light were beautiful.
We then ascended up to over 6,000ft above the lake to catch the wind to move us across the lake and toward Nyuangshwe, from where we took a boat from earlier. From this altitude we could really appreciate the extent of the floating gardens, hugely productive for crop growing.
The sun then started to appear over the mountains, flooding the lake with light, quite magical.
The many motorboats that cross the lake looked quite surreal from above.
Nyuangshwe became increasingly clear as we got closer and descended.
After an hour and twenty minutes we landed in Nyuangshwe after a memorable experience, a great way to enjoy the beauty of Lake Inle.