Flying high in Africa! Amazing scenery, amazing experience! Getting a unique perspective of the mesmerizing Serengeti National Park.
It was 4:30 in the morning, dark and cold. We dressed warm, and then left camp with the balloon safari driver. After an hour-long drive to the launching site, we witnessed the inflation of the balloons – there were three of them.
We climbed into the high-walled, 12 passenger, 4 compartments basket, learned about safety, practiced the safe landing position (you need to be down in the basket holding to the ropes inside it). We were then ready to go.
We were the third to take off just before the sun was rising. As we rose, the Serengeti expanded below us in every direction.
We didn’t see too many animals, but managed to spot a giraffe, some topi, impala, gazelles, baboons, a few ostriches, and even a leopard that was running away from us. It was hard for me to photograph them with my phone camera, and even Steve had some challenges with his good camera.
We were floating over the Mara river and the grassland mostly at treetop height, so we could hear the river and see the wildlife. There were hippos in the water and some birds on an island.
The scenery of the Serengeti was magnificent. The shadow of our balloon showed up amazingly well over the surrounding endless savannah.
After the ride was over, we were driven to a site by the river for a special African breakfast. To celebrate the safe landing, our captain opened a bottle of champagne – a tradition since the early days of flying. Champagne breakfast on the banks of the Mara river in the company of fellow safari goers – not bad if you think about it.
We were able to review a video of the flight and also got a certificate testifying that we indeed saw the Serengeti from a balloon in Tanzania.
After breakfast, our guide, Seph, met us there, and we continued our safari on land on this 16th day of our Africa trip.
A hot air balloon ride can be ridiculously expensive in East Africa ($450 per person in winter), but we were lucky to get it as a complementary extra, because we booked the entire trip with our travel agency (Yampu) a year in advance.
Our memories of this special safari will last a lifetime.