Up, Up and Away!

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My sister and I took our first hot air balloon ride in Serengeti, Tanzania. We paid a premium for the one hour air safari but the experience itself was priceless. Our little adventure began early on our second day of camping in the heart of the national park.

We set out before dawn to the launch site, picked up by a driver from the balloon company. We got a chance to see a few nocturnal animals and arrived in time for a safety briefing and to see the balloon get prepped.

After the briefing, we slid into the compartments of the balloon and prepared for takeoff. It was a super cold morning but once we were inside the gondola, we got warmed up pretty quickly as we were close to the fire. Our pilot got in and got the basket to an upright position, then we began our flight. Take off was so smooth, I didn’t realize we were already floating until I looked below to see we were above the ground.

Like a beautiful painting, the sun began to rise as we drifted off with the wind. It was such a wonderful sight to behold. I’m usually afraid of flying but this was so soothing, I felt nothing but absolute calm. We floated off, enjoying the feeling of the wind against our faces, soaking in the vast views of the endless plains.

From up above, we pointed out hippos, lions, hyenas, a leopard and many more animals.

And when it was time to land, our pilot got a little cheeky. Earlier that morning during the brief, he had hinted that he’d give us a fun landing but he made no promises. Spoiler alert: we got one. We hit the ground thrice, bump – bump – bump and then he tilted the gondola multiple times before the basket finally came to rest on its side. We were back on the ground, laughing our hearts out!

We had a celebratory toast, led by Peter, our pilot as soon as we got out. There is apparently a rich story behind the act of champagne popping after a balloon flight.

Then we got back into the safari vehicles and headed to the place where breakfast was set. On our way, we saw this lion enjoying his own breakfast. I think the unfortunate little fellow was a wildebeest. Poor guy…

Anyway, we had a lovely breakfast and got our certificates handed over to us. The tour was over and we were returned to our various guides.

I flew over the Serengeti and I have a certificate to prove it!

The ride was such a beautiful start to a wonderful day on safari. Later that day, we would go on to spot a leopard, a cheetah with her cubs and a pride of lions. And at night, while we slept in our tent, we would hear lions roaring just outside.

A hot air balloon safari is truly an amazing way to experience the Serengeti and I think it is worthy of a spot on anyone’s bucket list. Do you think it’s something you’d like to try? (If you haven’t done so already)

30 Comments

  1. I would too have a celebration after I finish a hot air balloon ride. It tops my to do list. We sorted out Cappadocia or Myanmar as the best place to do so, but now I know that Tanzania also offers it. And this one looks like a giant balloon. Am sure you were as happy as you have mentioned in the post because I too will be on top of the moon once I have done it.

    • I realized a lot more places offer the ride but those two seem to top everyone’s list. If you do the safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara, then you get on a hot air balloon there as well…

      You’re right about the balloon being huge. It carried 17 including the pilot but I believe we were told it had the capacity to hold 20. It was a good ride all in all..

  2. Wow, I have never taken a hot air balloon ride, your whole experience sounds so much fun, we wanted to do in Cappadocia but missed going there due to a shortage of days. But I would definitely love to do it once.

    • Cappadocia seems to be the bucket list city for everyone! It’s not hard to see why though. I’m still looking forward to a ride there as well. I hope you do get to go on one and write about it. I would love to read about your experience…

  3. Hot air-ballooning is awesome! It was very different from what I expected, but I would do it again! You’re awesome.

  4. I’ve always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon, it’s high on my list! Must have been an amazing experience to float in the sky up amongst the clouds. What a great way to spot the hippos, lions and leopards! And to end the flight with a glass of champagne!

  5. I’m in the process of planning a trip to Zanzibar, but after reading this post – I think I need to add more of Tanzania to the list! Your pictures are stunning and what an experience to tick of your bucket list! I’m definitely adding it to mine!

    • Thanks Yesh and yes, add a bit of Tanzania mainland (or Kenya) to the trip. It just makes sense.. Especially if it’s going to be a stop anyway.

  6. I have still not experienced the hot air balloon , Great pictures shared esp the hippo pics (wow), noted for my future visit. is that how you land from the balloon lol I might rethink then 😀

  7. Oh my goodness! That looks phenomenal, I’ve always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon!

  8. Hot air ballooning is something I haven’t done till now. I was searching for a good experience in Tanzania and I stumbled upon this blog. Combining my experience with wildlife would be something unique. Thanx for this. Your blog helped

  9. For some reason I’ve always associated the Serengeti with safaris and hot-air ballooning with Cappadocia and Pagan so I never thought I’d be able to kill two birds with one stone and do it both in Tanzania. Thank you for sharing this information with me!

    • Same with me – before this trip. I’d still love to go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia though….Thanks for your comment and glad you found the info useful

  10. Damn this looks like a nice experience! First of all the hot air balloon ride must have been amazing! Also, I would do anything for a night in the heart of the Savannah!

    • It was definitely an experience we wouldn’t be forgetting in a hurry. Thanks for your comment, Chronis.

  11. I wouldn’t think of a balloon ride for this kind of trip but that looks amazing. Will have to remember that 🙂

    • I know right! Before this trip, I didn’t necessarily think a balloon ride was a feasible thing to do here. I was thinking a ride in Cappadocia was more like it. But this opportunity came and we didn’t want to pass it up…

  12. I loved the picture with the basket on the side 🙂 Must be a lot of fun going around like that a bit.

  13. This blog just got me soo excited. I really want to go in an a hot air balloon now. It looks like the day was a beautiful experience.

  14. Amazing views and awesome feeling I believe? 😉
    But I believe I’ll never have the courage to fly with the balloon…

  15. No way. I wouldn’t go on it. Not safe at all. What if the baloon tears or rips.

    • Lol, nothing in life comes without its risks and this particular one isn’t unreasonable. You should try it sometime.

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