Original Balloon Safaris
Internationally hailed as Southern Africa’s best value, best quality tour operator to be appraised as the winner of the South African Tourism “Welcome Awards 2006”
If you’re going to do it – do it in unassailable style. Its sunrise, the silence of flight is punctuated only by the occasional blast of the powerful burners and the faint call of a bird or animal far beneath. The thrill is indescribable.
You’re sipping fine champagne while hovering gently above the tree tops of the beautiful Magalies River Valley, or drifting majestically high above the Magaliesberg range in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site, just 45 km north of Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, a region boasting some of the best ballooning weather in the world. The exceptional peace of this unique and almost supernatural view of the world will forever remain as a truly cherished memory.
After landing, savour a delectable and generous champagne breakfast at our well established, traditionally exquisite and beautifully appointed Clubhouse, Pavilion and Restaurant, where you’ll be filled with the warmest of memories.
Professional pilots, attentive crew, immaculately maintained equipment, 5 aviation safety awards, make this longest established licensed Balloon Airline in southern Africa the choice of the well informed discerning individual traveller or corporate group.
Vital Information: When making the booking we will need to know: FULL NAME (and weight) of each passenger The PASSENGER’S TELEPHONE NUMBER or HOTEL + ROOM No. (in the event of us cancelling due to bad weather or safety reasons) If a GROUP BOOKING, the GROUP LEADER’s NAME, and Flight Allocation List
- Duration: The flight will last about one hour and the total duration of the tour from check-in to departure for you next destination is about 3 to 5 hours
- Max # of participants: MINIMUM NUMBERS: 2 passengers (can be from two different individual bookings). MAXIMUM NUMBERS: 120+ (2 to 18 passengers per balloon).
- What should I wear? Clothing: Should be warm enough for the chilly early morning but it should be “peelable” because the sun, excitement and probably the champagne will soon warm you. “Country” shoes (no high heels or open sandals) are recommended, and if you are tall or a little thin on top wear a hat.
- No. participants: MINIMUM NUMBERS: 2 passengers (can be from two different individual bookings). MAXIMUM NUMBERS: 120+ (2 to 18 passengers per balloon).
- Spectators: Our new base also sports approved ground facilities for the disabled.
- Availability: Balloons go up every morning including weekends, weather permitting.
- Other Info: Rates for Team building: Quoted on
- Value for Money: Fair Deal
- Disabled Friendly: No
- Family Friendly: Yes
- Team Building Facilities: Yes
Click to See Additional Info on this Adventure
Peace of Mind
Safest Aviation Sport in the World
Did you know…?
Hot Air Ballooning is the safest aviation sport in the world?
If you are paying good money, there are certain criteria that you should know about, but may not be aware of regarding hot air balloon safety and legality.
No Pilot, even if he or she has a valid pilots licence, is allowed to fly for reward, unless it is under the auspices and control of a Company that is licensed as an Air Service and has a valid Operating Certificate issued by CCA (Commissioner for Civil Aviation).
The Operating Certificate certifies that the Air Service has been inspected and shows:
· that adequate Passenger Legal Liability and Third Party Insurance is in place;
· the registration letters of the particular hot air balloons the Air Service is allowed to use for hire and reward;
· that the hot air balloons are all Certified as being maintained and signed off by a currently licensed AMO (Aircraft Maintenance Organisation);
· That the hot air balloons are type-certified and have been manufactured by a company licensed to do this.
Each aircraft (hot air balloon) also carries documentation including:
· A Flight Folio book in which the aircraft hours are recorded after every flight, and shows when the Mandatory Inspection is due in both hours and date;
· A Certificate of Airworthiness, Certificate of Ownership, Certificate of Safety for Flight.
Each Pilot must carry a valid Pilot’s License and all Pilots are supposed to be aware of these regulations.
Any reputable Licensed Air Service MUST is able to produce these documents (or certified copies) on demand. If they cannot, then you can decline to fly and demand a full refund on any pre-payments as the flight could be classified as illegal, thereby invalidating insurances and possibly prejudicing your claims against the operator.
Use only companies who operate legally. They might be more expensive because they pay more for acceptably manufactured hot air balloons, pay insurance premiums, pay licensed Aircraft Maintenance Organisations, keep proper records and operate within the parameters of an approved Operations Manual.
Many people may try to side step the regulations – but in the event of an accident, their excuses may not hold water (or air) in a court of law.
We also recommend that not only for hot air ballooning, but any tourism product or service that you buy; you use a SATSA (South African Tourism Services Association) Member. This organisation is internationally recognised as the foremost tourism association in the region whose membership is confined to Companies that operate within a Code of Conduct embodying high standards of business, legal and financial ethics, and is affiliated to, or recognised by many other organisations worldwide.
Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris has been operating as a legally licensed balloon Air Transport Service since 1981. It is a family business run by Bill Harrop, his wife Mary, and daughter Sarah working in partnership with over 60 full time, part time, contract and casual staff.
Only qualified and experienced professional pilots are employed, and over five-thousand very happy passengers a year are testimony to our professional attitude in entertaining you to one of the most memorably enjoyable experiences of your life.
We run a fleet of six large hot air balloons which can carry between two and eighteen passengers each. So whether it is a romantic balloon flight for 2, or a party for 18 adventurers in one of the biggest balloons in the world, or a corporate adventure for 120+, Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris is the preferred choice for safe, reliable, quality ballooning.
Bill will also admit to experience as an ocean yachtsman, singer, hotelier, portrait photographer, advertising executive, and a balloon pilot examiner. He has served on committees of the Southern African Tourism and
Safari Association, The Magalies Meander, the Balloon and Airship Federation of South Africa, and two years as the National President of SKAL International (a worldwide body of travel and tourism management professionals).
He firmly believes that attention to service excellence and a commitment to care for ones community will build a better nation, especially through education, and was a recognised “Platinum Benefactor” of the Tourism Education Trust.
Accredited members of the Southern African Tourism Services Association since 1981. (Read about SATSA)
BEE Compliant – 100% PRL
TOMSA levy contributor
Founder Member of the Magalies Meander and member of the Crocodile Ramble and other tourism industry associations.
Clubhouse, Pavilion & Restaurant
Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safari’s…do it in unassailable style
Scenic flights depart at sunrise from Harrop’s traditionally exquisite and beautifully appointed Clubhouse Pavilion and Restaurant in the Magalies River Valley in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site bordering Gauteng and North West Province.
Internationally hailed as South Africa’s best value, best quality balloon and tour operator and winner of the South African Tourism, “Welcome Awards 2006.”
More space, more individual attention, more capacity, and more exclusive service.
Some may say Bill Harrop is full of hot air but he also puts his money where his mouth is.
May 2008 marked the opening of a R2.8 Million Clubhouse, Pavilion and a fully licensed Restaurant at Bill Harrop’s country base in the Magalies River Valley in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site near Skeerpoort, and his confidence in the South African tourism industry is further expressed in the investment of another R1.6 Million putting another “Jumbo” 18 passenger balloon into service early December. This New Addition has now increased Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safari’s Fleet to a maximum of 60 passengers in one flight, or 120+ on a large corporate “double-hop”.
The established, traditionally exquisite Clubhouse ensures that whether it is a romantic celebration for 2 or a large corporate event it can be experienced in unassailable style.
Magalies River Valley Scenic Balloon Safari
Balloon Safaris and Balloon Rides with Bill Harrop. Selected as the preferred hot air balloon operator in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site 2010-2011 promotions.
Balloons go up every morning including weekends, weather permitting.
Flight Departure Point:
Bill Harrop’s Balloon Safaris Skeerpoort Country Base in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site on the border of Gauteng and North West Province, near Hartebeesport Dam, 45 kilometres north-west of Johannesburg’s Northern suburbs.
Minibus Transfers from various hotels can be arranged at an extra cost
Just prior to sun-rise dependant on time of the year (see schedule below). Note that hotel transfers depart earlier to allow for travelling time.
· Hot Coffee, Tea, Biscuits and Muffins.
· Served as guests check in at our traditionally exquisite, well appointed Clubhouse Pavilion at sunrise. Flight
· Numbers are assigned and tickets are validated.
· Professional Crew Prepare the Balloons for Flight
· Guests watch from the comfort of the Pavilion and are called to board when the balloons are ready. The Captains give a safety briefing prior to take off.
About one hour (dependant on conditions).
Flight Landing Place:
Always in the shadow of the basket (wherever that may be)
South African champagne:
Served in-flight or on landing while the crew pack up the balloon.
Mini-bus Transfer back to our Clubhouse Pavilion and Restaurant for… Champagne Breakfast, at Harrop’s fully licensed beautifully appointed Clubhouse Pavilion and Restaurant. Freshly cooked wide choice and beautifully presented.
“Citations for Bravery”, Presented with due ceremony. Depart for your next destination with a basket full of really special memories.
Magalies Hot Air Balloon Tour Rates from R1790 to R2000
Rates during 2017 and 2018 will vary from R1790 to R2570 per person (including Vat.) depending on:
· the Package,
· the season and
· the number of people booking
Special Rates may be available on request for standbys, date specific special prices, and seasonal promotions (And we do have a limited number of private exclusive packages starting at R4155 per person).
Return Transfers can be arranged from your hotel to our balloon base.
Game Viewing at Entabeni Safari Conservancy
World Heritage “Waterberg Biosphere” Limpopo Province
The 22000 ha Entabeni Safari Conservancy, situated in the renowned, malaria-free Waterberg area of Limpopo Province, boasts spectacular scenery with mountains, waterfalls and terrain which varies from bushveld to unspoilt ravines. All of this only 3 hours drive from Johannesburg.
The 5 star Hanglip Mountain Luxury Lodge or the 4 star Wildside Tented Camp are both on the lower escarpment and most convenient to the balloon safari takeoff area. Other 4 and 5 star lodges are also available on the upper escarpment.
Entabeni Balloon Safari
The packages include:
· 3 meals
· a game drive
· A balloon safari game spotting flight.
Other activities available are scenic helicopter flights, horseback safaris, rejuvenation at the wellness centre, wildlife centre, cultural village, the extreme golfing experience and game viewing activities by day and night, far in excess of the ubiquitous sightings of “just the Big 5”.
Game viewing at Mabula Private Game Reserve
Bela Bela area (Warmbaths) Northern Province
Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris operate game viewing flights giving guests a magnificent aerial view of Mabula Game Lodge and the unique 12000 ha, game reserve, situated in the Northern Province, a mere 2½ hours drive from Johannesburg.
Legendary African wildlife is a regular occurrence at Mabula Game Lodge, where the big five roam. Enjoy the matchless hospitality and comfort of this newly refurbished, truly world-class game lodge, which offers a bouquet of activities including guided bush walks, reptile centre, horse trails, rhino tracking, game drives in open Land Rovers and a health and beauty centre.
After your balloon safari enjoy game-viewing drives in open Land Rovers, bush walks, or ride horse-back along the trails to observe the animals. During the heat of the day, relax at one of Mabula’s two sparkling swimming pools.
In the evening take a thrilling night game drive before a delightful boma dinner. Accommodation is in comfortable thatched chalets, with en-suite bathrooms and private patios.
Corporate Team Building
“A teambuilding experience with a difference!”
“In a balloon you are the prisoner of the wind, and you can go only in the direction of the wind. In life people think they are prisoners of circumstance; but in the balloon, as in life, you can change altitude. When you change altitude, you change direction. You are not a prisoner any more”. (Bertrand Piccard).
“Ballooning can be described as 3 dimensional sailing”. (Bill Harrop)
Combining a typical Balloon Safari with the Ballooning Challenge is a great adventure that provides a new and exciting medium for teambuilding. On a teambuilding balloon safari, participants are placed in a unique situation, enabling them to challenge themselves and develop co-operative and interdependent relationships with their peers and business associates.
This experience provides insight into how teams work together and how they can become more effective. Not only will the group teambuilding balloon safari be a most enjoyable experience but the participants will fondly remember their companions and the message your company was projecting for many years to come. They will “dine out” on their ballooning story
The Programme / Activities
Our fleet of balloons which can be used for team building consists of the following:
· 3 balloons that each take 16 passengers (insured for 18 but weights often determine how many passengers per balloon)
· 1 balloon that takes 8 passengers
· You should ideally utilize two or more balloons.
There are two tasks that are used in competitions that work well with a corporate group:
Judge declared goal:
The group can request that the pilot changes height – bearing in mind the wind changes direction at different heights, by following their instructions the pilot can hopefully get the balloon to the pre arranged target. Once the balloon is close to the target a marker can be thrown out and the marker that lands closest to the target is the winning team. Alternatively each participant can have a marker and the person who throws the marker closest to the target is the winner. This can be a lot of fun and the pilots can get very close to the target.
Hare and Hounds:
This is when the first balloon takes off about 10 – 15 minutes prior to the other balloons taking off. The “hounds” have to chase the “hare” to land or throw out a marker as close as possible to the “crown” / target of the landed balloon. This task is excellent for photographs and it’s really interesting to see the different flight paths the balloons take to get to the same goal.
On landing the participants can assist with packing the balloon and the first team back at breakfast can be declared the winning team.
If your team would like to relax and enjoy the facilities for a while longer we can open up the cash bar and you don’t have to rush off – the morning is yours – enjoy it.
Magalies River Valley, 2146 Magaliesburg, South Africa
No directions available
S 25° 48' 52.233'' E 27° 44' 18.542''