A Serengeti hot air balloon ride is an adventure that can easily be included in safari itineraries that include at least two nights in central Serengeti or Western Corridor Camps (Grumeti River Camp, Kirawira Camp, Mbalageti Camp, etc). The feeling is indescribable, crispness of the African air, chill in the wind that hits your face as your Mara hot air balloon gradually rises, smoothness in the exhale of your breath, and the excitement to see and learn more. One’s physical presence can be felt on the plains of the Serengeti when reading this.
You trip begins when you get your wake up call at your safari lodge in central Serengeti in the early hours of the morning, as you yawn away, and thoughts about your wildlife viewing from an elevated position begins to stir your mind. The fresh Tanzanian traditional hot tea and coffee quickly awaken you, in fact preparing you for a “mission”.
By 6.00 a.m. you are almost arriving at the hot air balloon site in the Serengeti. As you approach the site, the balloon seems bigger than you expected, the experience is one that has never been visited, and you are about to have a trip of a lifetime.
Liftoff! Up and away we go! At 6.15 a.m., the hot air balloon safari starts. The captain asks you to relax and experience the wonders under the African sky. As you finally start to get a grip on the elevation, an inner smile that resonates on one’s face does not need an explanation. The wildebeest moving in large numbers across the Serengeti plains, the beauty of the landscape when the rising sun’s bright orange colors are displayed, the elephants at the water pool, and the gazelles and zebras scampering away, just if it was their first time to witness an alien object in the sky.
By 7.15 a.m., one is very content with balloon safari, and it is almost touch down time. There is a celebration, and for those who prefer a toast, champagne is served, as hot breakfast in the bush is being prepared. You ask yourself, is this true? I am really doing this trip of a lifetime in Tanzania? In the Serengeti? As the sweetness and aroma of the African coffee or tea surrounds you, with fresh eggs being served as you like it, you hope for another ride, and wish that such luxury never ended. By the time you finish your Serengeti bush breakfast, you have made up your decision to immigrate to Tanzania because such life is only found here. You begin to question yourself, and you feel an urgency to seek, live and enjoy this pristine beauty, a once in a lifetime “thing”.
By 9.00 a.m., you have been declared a champion, a mighty certificate of completion handed out to you which you hope to display in your home country, to family, friends, coworkers. Clapping and participation by everyone present makes you proud to have achieved a trip as wonderful as this. By then, you hear a blaring sound of music or even an annoying buzz, you turn around and switch of the alarm clock. Your eyes wide open, you know that you have to get back to Tanzania, to Serengeti, again otherwise the recurring dreams will drive you mad Launching at dawn, rising as the sun rises, you gently float over the plains of the magnificent Serengeti.
Your Balloon Safari adventure starts early morning when you depart your lodge or camp. It is still dark and you may be fortunate to see nocturnal animals on the way to the launch site.
When you arrive, you will meet your pilot and witness your balloon being inflated and prepared for launch. After a thorough safety briefing and demonstration of boarding and landing position you board your balloon and lift off! Rising as the sun rises your balloon floats in whatever direction the winds of the day are heading over this wonderful area.
It is an adventure – even for us. Whereas we know where we have started, we genuinely do not know where we will land as we float in the direction of and speed of the wind.
Your pilot will use varying altitudes and layers of air to navigate the balloon over this amazing area. Each day is different, some of the flight may be low, offering a different perspective and at other times your balloon may climb to 1000’ or more.
Nobody can predict, no two flights are ever the same and your balloon safari will be unique. While impossible to guarantee particular animals, you are likely to see various species from above. Your pilot knows the area well and is also a committed conservationist and will point out animals, birds and features of interest.
Out of Africa Breakfast
We aim to fly for about an hour, depending on conditions. After landing, you celebrate in the traditional way with a champagne toast (well, an excellent sparkling wine) before heading off to a special ‘Out of Africa’ breakfast. Breakfast is prepared in the bush and served under a convenient acacia tree. Linen, bone china, Sheffield cutlery and freshly prepared fare in the company of your fellow passengers makes a memorable finale to your adventure.
At 5:00am Serengeti Balloon Safaris will collect you from your central Serengeti lodging, or from an organized collection point for those in western Serengeti, and transfer you by Land Rover to the launch site near Masai Kopjes. Here you will meet your pilot, receive a briefing and watch the inflation of your balloon.
You take off at dawn, rising as the sun rises and float in whichever direction the winds of the morning take us. Your pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon and will sometimes fly lower-down, at treetop height and sometimes lower, offering a unique perspective over the majestic Serengeti and many great photo opportunities of the wildlife below.At other times he will ascend to 300 meters (1000 feet) or more so you can take in the wonderful panorama of the Serengeti and get an appreciation for its profound size.
Duration of flight is roughly one hour.
Hot air balloon ride breakfast
Once you are back on the ground, you will be escorted to a table that has been laid out to the highest of standards. The table is laid with bone china and silver cutlery. Fresh tropical fruits, warm freshly baked bread and English traditional breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes are served by stewards in customary Swahili dress.
You will also be given a glass of sparkling wine to help celebrate this amazing adventure. For those who do not wish to drink, there are alternative non-alcoholic drinks available. At around 9:30am,you will be driven back to central Serengeti lodges or to the organized drop off point in westerns Serengeti to continue your safari adventure!