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Balloon Nepal to start commercial flights

- KRISHANA PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Nov 17, 2018-

Pokhara-based Balloon Nepal is readying to start commercial hot air balloon flights on November 17. “Hot air ballooning is a big attraction among foreign and domestic thrill seekers,” said company founder Prabin Maharjan. “We aim to attract more tourists to the country by offering the adventure sport.”

The desire to start something new prompted Prabin Maharjan, Sabin Maharjan, Benupa Karki, Anju Khadka and Bikram Vade to establish a ballooning company in Nepal. They invested Rs15 million and started preparations to offer commercial ballooning adventures two years ago. Vade is the chairman of Balloon Nepal.

According to Maharjan, Balloon Nepal has a permit to operate five hot air balloons, but it will be flying two balloons initially. The company has received the go-ahead from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, he said.

Balloon Nepal will be offering two flights daily, one early in the morning and another in the afternoon. Passengers on the early morning flight will be able to observe the sunrise. The balloon carries eight persons and the flight lasts an hour. The afternoon flight will be a tethered balloon ride. The balloon will float 500 metres above Pokhara and provide stunning views of the lake city and the Himalayan range, said Maharjan. 

All necessary preparations and safety features have been completed, said Maharjan. The balloon will be operated by trained balloon pilots from India while ground handling will be done by trained local technicians. The company employs 25 persons.

The charge for a ride on the balloon is Rs11,000 per person for Nepalis and $160 per person for foreigners. The tethered balloon ride costs Rs6,000 and $90 per person for Nepalis and foreigners respectively. The company is offering a 15 percent opening discount. The balloons will be launched from Dhampus and Lauruk, and land on the banks of the Mardi River.

The hot air balloons have been imported directly from the manufacturer Ultramagic Balloons, Spain. Each balloon costs Rs6 million, said Maharjan.

Balloon rides will be available nine months of the year; the service will shut down for three months during the monsoon. Balloon Nepal plans to launch skydiving, bungee jumping and other adventure sports related to hot air balloon in the future.  

Published: 17-11-2018 09:00

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