A Serengeti balloon safari is a fantastic once in a lifetime experience, particularly suitable for a bird’s eye-view game viewing experience on your wildlife tour in northern Tanzania. Hot air balloon rides leave from three sites in this prime national park. In Central Serengeti, wildlife gathers year-round in the Seronera River Valley where there is permanent water. The Great Migration passes through around May and June. The Western Serengeti includes the Grumeti River, scene of theatrical crossings during the Great Migration in June and July, when hundreds of thousands of gnu, brave the giant Nile crocodiles, and many perish while others detour to avoid the perilous river. In South Serengeti plains, the wildebeests assemble from December onwards, to calve in February, producing 8000 newborn every day on a three-week marathon, a sight not to be missed on your personalized nature travel in Serengeti. The plains of the Serengeti are particularly suited to balloon flights which are particularly convenient, letting you get aerially closer and distinctly accessible to the action than you could be by a game-viewing safari vehicle.
Conditions are favorable early every morning, but you are advised to pre-book this popular activity for your safari holiday to East Africa due its limited seating availability. Unfortunately, only children over seven year, old and fit and active adults can be accommodated. Because weight is a crucial safety consideration, passengers weighing over 120 kilos (265 pounds) may need to reserve two places. The balloons are immense. Baskets are compartmented for comfort and security, accommodating 16 people for each one-hour voyage. The price reflects the enormous cost of the balloons due to a safety replacement every few hundred hours, equivalent to swapping with a high-end automobile. High fees are payable to the national park for tourist concessions for every single passenger. A skilled, experienced and licensed pilot and staff of 20 are needed for each trip, including launching and recovery as well as transport to and from the launch and celebratory champagne breakfast. Each flight is unique, some high enough to view the panoramic landscape for miles ahead, others low enough to see individual animals at close quarters. It is not a cheap excursion, but it will make your northern Tanzania vacation one of the most memorable of your whole life. It is possible to charter special private balloon flights in the Grumeti Reserve for honeymoon couples on their romantic trip in the great plains of Africa.
For your Serengeti hot-air balloon trip in northern Tanzania, you will be collected around 0500 hours. An hour predawn drive through the bush to your launch site is a delight in itself. You may see nocturnal animals in the headlights that you could not have encountered any other way. Near a river like Seronera or Grumeti, you may meet grazing hippo. On the plains, a lioness may return from her kill, a hyena slinking in her wake. In the cool early morning, a light-weight long-sleeved jacket and long trousers are a wise idea, with sturdy shoes. Remember to take your binoculars and DSLR camera to make the most of this highlight of your Serengeti excursion.
The huge balloon inflates swaying impatiently as it lifts. The intermittent roaring of the burner reminds you to put on your hat as it can get quite warm overhead. Assistants hold the basket steady, ensuring it remains level during take-off. Then comes the heart-stopping moment when you lose touch with the earth and become part of the dawn. As you ascend, the sky lightens from purple to pink. The sun clears the horizon, flooding the Serengeti plains with golden light. Your stomach clenches as you look out over your unobstructed basket side to the receding earth. Losing contact with the ground or the feeling of being totally at the mercy of the wind can cause an atavistic shudder.
For an hour, you will have no control over where you go or what you see. However skillful your pilot, he can only go where the wind takes him, so you need to accept your helplessness, let yourself experience the enriching sights, sounds and sensations of your flight as well as the emotions it arouses.
It is an unprecedented opportunity to learn so much about this unique method of travel in Eastern Africa and so much more about yourself. Serengeti animals on the endless lawn below are miniaturized from your new perspective. As your shadow looms behind them, they bound ahead, rear ends roundly prominent. The warthog raises his thin, pennant tail like a radio aerial. The zebra flaunts its beautiful striped rumps. The elephant lumbers like an old man in baggy trousers. Herds of thousands of seasonal migrating herbivores stream out for miles behind and ahead as far as the eye can see.
You may fly low over a flat-topped Acacia thorn tree to startle flapping vultures then creep over its precipitous edge to see grassland far below. Perhaps you will encounter the startled head of a giraffe atop its long, swaying neck as you over-fly the branches where it stretches to feed. Below, you may see hippo in the Mara River, or disturb flocks of egrets into flight. Lion proudly stands their home ground or families of elephant in line, nose to tail, trek towards the horizon. Back on the ground, you will receive your commemorative certificate and a champagne toast, then drive to join the rest of the morning’s balloonists for a hearty English hot breakfast, cooked on burners.
You will discover a new appetite for life, for appreciative conversations with your fellow adventurers, high on adrenalin, and unlimited helpings of good, hearty food and bubbly, served in superlative style in unforgettable surroundings.