III Portugal Hot Air Balloon Transcrossing - March 1999

By Joop de Wilde

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From 20th - 27th of March 25 balloons were drifting from Braganza in the north of Portugal to the Algarve in the south. Teams from Belgium, England, Germany, Kenya, Portugal, Scotland, Slovakia, Switzerland, USA were present at the third Portugal Hot Air Balloon Transcrossing. The event was organised in close cooperation between the Portugese Ballooning Club and the Realisar company

-------Benoit Simeon flying over the castle of Braganza -------

At the end of the opening ceromony Belgium pilot Benoit Simeon flew with his cloud hopper over the castle of Braganza in the far north of Portugal. Even making a landing in the court yard of the castle


When the sun rises and the frost slowly disappears the balloons travel with a speed of 4 knots over Braganza. The view gets better outside the city. The terrain goes from undulating to hilly. It varies from little patches of grass to rough terrain and crops.


The valley near Lamego seems to be perfect for ballooning. But itīs very difficult to estimate wind speeds higher on the mountain. The landing place is far from ideal. Just below the top in rough terrain is it realy difficiult to retreive the balloon


With a 76 year old Portuguese farmer as a guide I had to drive kilometers out of my way, over wagon trails and donkey tracks, to get as close as 200 meters to the balloon.

John Hole with the Rover balloon ended up just below the crest of the mountain.


The Viseu valley is better oriented in the wind direction and is wider and flatter thus allowing for much easier travel than the preceding day.   Extensive vineyards alternate with crop fields, orchards and sections of rough terrain where it is easy to land.
In the Estrella park lies the highest mountain in Portugal. Over winding roads with hairpin curves you drive through one of the most beautiful areas in Portugal. The terrain around the mountain sinks away lower and lower and the road to the top has many surprises in store like the views of the valley

The top of the mountain is still covered in a thick layer of snow. There is a lot of skiing and dog-sledding going on. From 23 degrees in the valley we are now on a 2 kilometer high, windy crest in the snow under a stark blue sky.


Serpa appears to have just come out of a history book. It is located on the top of a hill and you can understand why it was built here when you look from the castle walls. In all directions there is a magnificent view over the surroundings and thus it was an ideal location for the rulers of this part of the country.And for ballooning!!!



The terrain gets flatter when you go further south in Portugal. Beautiful flower-covered slopes take the place of the mountains. A more ideal place for balloon travel is hard to find.


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