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.
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)