As a flight attendant, I’m not afraid of flying, but when I came across the idea of flying over the pyramids ofTeotihuacán in a hot air balloon in Mexico City, I felt quite queasy. Ballooning in Mexico is different from my day job after all. The pyramids of Teotihuacán are not the most famous pyramids in Mexico, but they can be reached in about an hour’s drive from the center of Mexico City. A good opportunity, then, if you are just in town.
Ballooning: The first time
From Mexico City there are plenty of options to get to Teotihuacán. We opted for a balloon ride at sunrise followed by a tour to the pyramids. For the first time ballooning, and then also in Mexico. I heard about hot air balloons landing in a cactus field and all kinds of scary stories. Our balloon pilot instructed us to bend the legs during landing, in order to be able to buffer the landing if necessary – how bumpy would this be? I had already signed a waiver that I would not sue the balloon company even in the event of potential loss of life and limb – so I had to go through with it.
With a hot air balloon over the pyramids of Teotihuacán
The queasy feeling quickly faded. I was far too distracted by the view. From the soft light of the rising sun. From the vastness of the landscape. From the other balloons that floated like pearls on a string around us over Teotihuacán. And from the breathtaking silence. Except when our pilot was firing to keep the balloon flying. Fascinating for someone like me who automatically associates flying with loud, sometimes annoying engine noise. Floating silently through the air.
The Aztecs in Mexico: Were they also in Teotihuacán?
It’s crazy, what mankind has already brought forth in terms of peoples. In Mexico City, all the souvenir stores are full of Aztec stuff. Aztec jewelry, Aztec handicrafts, Aztec art, Aztec calendars – all in the spirit of the Aztecs, the people who ruled and lived here until almost 600 years ago. Until the Spanish came. And then, pretty quickly, that was the end of the Aztec people.
Pyramid of the Sun & Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacán
However, as impressive and ancient as the culture of the Aztecs seems, they were not the first to settle around Mexico City, for by this time the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, and a few other remnants of an even much older culture already existed in Teotihuacán. The Aztecs gave the place only its name, Teotihuacán – and that translates as: Where you become a god.
The enigma of Teotihuacán
The thing with becoming a god didn’t really work out – but somehow Teotihuacán definitely is a spiritual place. Just by the fact that people put huge pyramids in this highland centuries ago. Just like that, with no other functional purpose such as housing tombs or treasures. This is what makes Teotihuacán special. Because from the inside, both the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon are made entirely of clay! And both are really more huge than they may look in pictures! Or from above.
Spiritual experience on the Pyramid of the Sun
What looked spectacular from above was even more impressive from the ground. After the ride there was still time for a tour on foot. If you are very interested, you can book a guide at the entrance of the Teotihuacán pyramids, who will explain a bit. But looking and exploring for yourself is also possible. Be sure to climb up the sun pyramid, it’s steeper than you might think, but it’s an absolute highlight! At the Pyramid of the Sun, stairs are so steep that you might want to climb up on all fours! How that elderly couple in their 80s, who I met on the way up, managed that climb will forever remain a mystery to me. (And they reminded me to start exercising more after all!)
At the top of the sun pyramid you can then enjoy the view. Or recharge your batteries. Spirituals like to recharge their batteries here. The top of the sun pyramid in particular is considered an energetic place. So high up. In glaring sunlight. Even though I’m really not averse to spirituality – I didn’t notice any energy. But it may also be because I first had to recover from running upstairs for half an hour!
The Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacán
You can also climb up the moon pyramid, the counterpart to the sun pyramid. Provided you’re not a cardiovascular patient. Another tip: Come early! Because with hot temperatures, climbing pyramids in the midday sun is really no fun.
Ballooning in Teotihuacan: Spectacular landing in the cactus field
Last but not least, we actually ended up in the nearby cactus field! So there was adventure on top. The crew picking us up was fit though, the balloon was wrapped up quickly and loaded onto a trailer along with the balloon basket, while we have already been seated safely in the van that drove us back to the airfield.
At the end of the trip, by the way, there’s a balloon baptism (is that what it’s called?) with a glass of champagne and a balloonist’s certificate. Oh yes, of course you have to get up early – otherwise you won’t see the magical sunrise over the pyramids of Teotihuacán. But: It’s worth it!
More great locations for ballooning in the rest of the world
Actually, I always thought I would experience my first balloon flight either in Cappadocia in Turkey or in Bagan in Myanmar – two destinations that are always high on my travel wish list. There are just so many great places to take a balloon ride:
Ballooning in Mallorca
Bagan, Myanmar: Das Tempelmeer zu meinen Füßen
Kappadokien, Türkei: Mein Abenteuer: mit dem Heißluftballon über Kappadokien fahren
Kappadokien: Ballonballett im Morgengrauen
Namibia: Auf und Ballon
Ägypten: Im Ballon über Luxor