Hot air ballooning

Costa Rica hot air ballooning

Ready to fly! It's a very exciting moment when little by little the balloon starts taking off the ground.

Ready to fly! It’s a very exciting moment when little by little the balloon starts taking off the ground.

Costa Rica provides unquestionably the most fascinating ballooning in the world — low and slow drifting, over rain forests or mountain villages, caressing the tops of giants trees, dipping into white water rivers, and chasing monkeys in the tree-tops. With the right climactic conditions, we sometimes find ourselves ascending to watch awesome Arenal volcano.

Serendipity selected by FORBES Magazine, Travel & Leisure online magazine, and MS-NBC as top 10 ballooning in the world.

Serendipity selected by FORBES Magazine, Travel & Leisure online magazine, and MS-NBC as top 10 ballooning in the world.

The distinctly different areas we’ve chosen to fly have special beauty, and each rewards us in very special ways.

Ballooning in San Carlos

We take off in the balloon approximately 20 miles east of Arenal Volcano. Sometimes we are blessed with breaks in the clouds so we can ascend above and sit atop a foamy sea of white, where our only company is the majestic (and often puffing) Arenal volcano. We don’t fly close (there’s real danger in approaching the volcano — we maintain at least 15 miles from the base) but sometimes we have a view that can only be seen from above the clouds.

Our real goal, however, is to fly low over nearby rivers, fields, and forests, to play with the clouds, to frolic with the birds, and to laugh with the animals. The forests of this area are filled with monkeys and iguanas, and sometimes we can get a full chorus calling up to us from the trees.

Flying in a balloon allows you to view the earth like you rarely do: high enough to see the crop patterns below, but low enough to watch and listen to the birds and monkeys chattering in the tops of the trees.

Flying in a balloon allows you to view the earth like you rarely do: high enough to see the crop patterns below, but low enough to watch and listen to the birds and monkeys chattering in the tops of the trees.

Balloons take about 30-45 minutes to inflate, a fascinating process. You are in the air from about 45 minutes to over two hours. The average flight is about 1 hour 15 minutes. Some of the best fun is trying to find a place to land — no trees, no rivers to cross, and a place where the 4×4 chase vehicle can reach. The whole process, from inflation to pack-up, takes 3 to 5 hours. (By the way, on the biggest canopy tours you are airborne for less than 5 minutes — the rest of the time you are waiting your turn on platforms between zip lines).

The joy of flying in the balloon is to experience the wonder of flight, open and free and in harmony with nature.

Well trained pilots — well maintained balloons

Serendipity’s hot air balloons are expertly maintained by inspectors trained by the Ann Arbor, Michigan manufacturer of the balloons. Inspection and repairs are made in accordance with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and our pilots hold international (ICAO) pilot licenses for balloons, valid for balloon flight throughout the world.

Our pilot is putting hot air on the balloon's envelop. Slowly the air will inflate the balloon and take us on a very amazing trip.

Our pilot is putting hot air on the balloon’s envelop. Slowly the air will inflate the balloon and take us on a very amazing trip.

We have chosen to keep ballooning intimate, the way it should be for everyone who wants to fly — a pilot and at most 5 people in a traditional open wicker basket, with everyone joining in to help launch and pack up. Serendipity, by the way, has the only balloons in Costa Rica.

Prices

BALLOON CHARTER We offer an entire balloon for your self-formed group. Each balloon can carry the pilot plus up to 800 pounds of people and gear (maximum of 5 passengers, regardless of size), so you decide who will go with you. We will add people to the balloon flight (from our own staff, or friends) when necessary to assure the minimum controllable weight is met. $1200 for charter flight

BALLOON RIDE Per passenger $385, minimum of two passengers.

Hot air ballooningChildren under 5 years, or under 4 feet of height, or any person who cannot climb over the edge of the basket (about 3 feet high) using only their own strength, or who lack arm strength to “hold on” during landings, should not participate in the flight, but are welcome to go in the chase vehicle, which is a big treat as well. To help children during landings, we add a Serendipity staff for each child under the age of 10. The staff person’s weight is included in the total above.

ARENAL AREA Serendipity will pick up guests from Hotel Tilajari, near Meulle, about 30 minutes east of the town of Fortuna. Passengers need to meet Serendipity at the entrance of the hotel Tilajari around 5 AM (about 10-15 minutes before sunrise) as listed in the written confirmation.

Serendipity's balloons often fly over the forest.

Serendipity’s balloons often fly over the forest.

Serendipity will arrange a transfer from the hotels around the base of Arenal Volcano and Tabacón Hot Springs as well as Fortuna area hotels to our launch site for $120 for round trip, for 1 to 5 passengers.

Driving directions to Tilajari from Fortuna (about 27 minutes)

Drive 5 miles towards Tanque/San Jose. Approaching Tanque, turn left (unreliably marked, but it is the only paved road just before town – if you reach the round bullring on right, you have gone about 200 yards too far), go 1 mile north, then right (east) after the bridge, onto paved road. Tilajari is 6 miles or 9 minutes down this road, on the left. If you reach the blinking light at intersection of Meulle, you’ve gone about 200 yards too far. Night telephone at Tilajari is 2462-1212, so if you are delayed or get lost you can call your pilot, who is waiting at the entry gate of the hotel.

Clothing

We highly recommend long pants legs (landing in high grass) and strong shoes that can get wet, a hat to block sun, sun glasses. You will likely get wet during the voyage, so wear clothes that get wet and dry quickly. It is not cold at any time, even at altitude, so no jacket is required.

For examples of how hot air ballooning can be incorporated into your active Costa Rican vacation, have a look at our sample itineraries of private Costa Rica vacations.

The first step to enjoying a Serendipity adventure is to contact us.