Listen to an audio version of this blog post! Just press the play button below.
Not every African safari takes place in a 4 x 4 Jeep. You can find yourself on a walking safari, a biking safari, a sailing safari, or even a horseback riding safari. But probably one of the most scenic and dramatic safaris you can sign up for is an early morning hot air balloon safari.
Specifically, a hot air balloon safari that rises over the dawning light upon the great Masai Mara Reserve.
Imagine the vistas increasing by the moment as you lift over the park’s rolling savannahs and forests. From your gondola, you look below to see long trains of wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles, all part of the Great Migration – a magnificent procession leading off to the horizon.
The currents gently transport you over the brightening landscapes as you gain altitude, taking in the grandeur of the park in all directions. The short blasts from the balloon’s engine above you, are the only sounds, perhaps punctuated by the calls of the park’s birdlife.
Here’s how you can join in this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
It’s An Early Rise
On this hot air balloon safari we will rise with the sun, so that means we need to launch at dawn. At about five am, our partners with the balloon touring company will pick you up from your lodge or tented camp for the drive to the launch site.
Dress warmly in layers; the day will start off cool but you’ll soon remove your jackets, hats, and gloves as the sun shines upon your safari.
At the launch site in the Masai Mara, the ground crew will be firing gas jets of hot air to inflate your massive balloon. Fresh-brewed coffee will be served and you’ll meet your pilot, who will share thoughts about safety and what to expect on your journey.
To Infinity and Beyond
As the sun begins to rise… so will you. The pilot fires a blast from the gas jets, heating the air in the balloon and suddenly you leave the ground, floating skyward. You soon leave the trees below and enjoy the early light playing upon the park’s fields and reflected in its rivers.
You’ll spot the wildlife below, emerging into the new day. Your pilot is also your guide, pointing out features in the landscape and perhaps a pride of lions or a family of elephants.
From this new vantage point, you’ll make discoveries not possible from the ground, as you sail over huge nests, cradled in the tree branches. You’ll spot large eggs revealed in these delicate perches.
Up here, you’ll move with the whims of the wind, creating your safari route over the park. Capture these moments with your camera and your memory – you’ll recall them for years to come.
Although you’re alone in the currents, as you sail over the park, the ground crew has been following your journey. When you lightly touchdown, they’ll soon be there to assist and bring you back to the launch zone.
Everything is special about this day. Another crew has been busy preparing a colorful safari breakfast for your return. Seated at long tables at a scenic spot, you and your fellow flyers can compare notes of your adventure as waiters outfitted in traditional Kenyan dress serve fresh juice, eggs, fruit, breads, scones, and plenty of champagne.
Take advantage of all East Africa has to offer and we’ll make sure you have a magnificent and safe adventure!