Hot Air Balloon over the Serengeti

An activity from my bucket list, this is something I said I would do whenever I made it to Africa.  But when it came to it, the price was a bit higher than I wanted to spend at $755 Canadian.  I did hem and haw about it and ultimately booked it.  I knew I could have booked it when I arrived but I also knew that there were a limited number of spaces so I sucked it up and booked it.

Up and At ‘Em
This ended up being one of the earliest days of my trip.  I had to be up at 5 am as I had a 5:30 pickup for my balloon.  There was no time for breakfast or a cup of tea before I had to go.  There were two of us from our trip who were going on this excursion but we had others to pick up on our way to the balloon area.   Two of the people we picked up were from Edmonton so it was kind of nice to have someone to chat with as the others in our van did not speak English.

Setting up the balloon

Balloon Site and Knowledge
Even though the days were hot, the mornings in the Serengeti are quite cool.  I had on my bunny hug/hoodie and I was still a tad chilled.  We watched them get the balloons setup on the ground and watched them inflate them.  Our pilot went over the safety guidelines we needed to know as we would be clipped into the balloon basket.  He gave us instructions as to how to get into the basket as we wouldn’t be climbing in via a ladder but instead we would be scooting into it and essentially lying on our backs.  

Once everyone was in their spots and our pilot took up his spot, we were ready to go.  Our basket was easily airborne and we were on our way.  There were three balloon’s total.  We were in the front to begin with but we moved into the middle of the pack for the majority of the ride.

Looking back for sunrise

Our flight lasted for about an hour.   We saw a lot of hippos, some hyenas and some birds.   The scenery was amazing along our ride, from lush tropical areas to dry and barren land.  I had hoped that we would see more than we did but overall, it was good.  

Lots of hippos!
Taken of the balloon in front of us
Our tour drove by and saw us, photo courtesy of G

As I was right beside the pilot’s compartment, I had alternating hot and cold.  When the flame was on, it got quite warm and when the flame was off, it got chilly.   He made a point of turning the balloon so everyone got to experience the different views.  We were able to see the other balloons floating around as well.   

This is where it all happens!
Landing was interesting as the idea was to land and then tip us over.  There was a bump or two and then we were stopped.  It could have been a lot worse!  To get out of the basket, we then climbed up the handholds and over.

This is where we landed.

Back to the Ground
After everyone was safely out of the basket we were loaded into a van and taken to a clearing a bit away where everyone was given mango juice and champagne.  The pilots showed off by walking with the champagne on their heads.  

Show offs!  Our pilot is the guy in the hat.

Balloon all packed up.  It didn't take them long.

From there, we were loaded up again and taken for a bush breakfast.  The pilots sat at the tables with us and then gave us our certificates to show that we had completed this activity.  

Our table

Our breakfast

Bush toilet

We were then driven back to the balloon office to wait for our tour people to pick us up. 


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