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IN EAST AFRICA DONE IN MASAI MARA GAME RESERVE IN KENYA, SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK AND NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA BOTH IN TANZANIA

Borne on the breeze across the great plains. The adventure begins just before dawn. Flames from the balloon burners light the darkness as the crews inflate their craft. The first, pink tongues of sunlight flicker across the skies and the balloon fills then rises. Suspended in a basket beneath the rainbow coloured canopy, you’re off for a game-viewing adventure with an entirely different perspective.

The thing that amazes most first-time balloonists is the absolute stillness, the silence as you float above the plains, the forest and the rivers of the Masai Mara. And if you’ve flown elsewhere, you’ve seen nothing like this. The sounds below drift clearly upwards: a lion’s roar, elephants crashing through the bush, baboons perched in the tips of the trees startled and screeching to see something above them.

For an hour or so you drift wherever the air currents take you. If you’re lucky you’ll climb high above the Mara for the view of a lifetime. Then your balloon safari finishes with a flourish. In the time honoured tradition of balloon flights the world over, you toast your return to earth with a champagne breakfast. The difference is that this breakfast happens in the bush, wherever you land, and it’s cooked before your eyesonthe burners that minutes before kept you suspended in the air.

Safety and Requirements

Mara Balloon Safaris pioneered game viewing by hot-air balloon in Africa. Today they operate from Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation both in Tanzania They have some of the world’s most experienced pilots flying some of the world’s largest balloons and their distinctive colours are known the world-over. Passengers should be able to climb in and out of a basket and stand for the duration of the flight. Warm clothing is required for early mornings.

Variety of flights

Flights last an average of 1 hour over the Masai Mara. Balloon flights often get booked up in advance, we recommend you book early.

Best times to go

Available most of the year round but subject to prevailing weather conditions. All balloon flights begin soon after dawn, it means an early start.

Timings

We operate balloon safaris throughout the year.

The evening prior to the flight, our pilot or rep will brief the clients and confirm the time to meet the following morning. If the clients are staying at one of the lodges where we operate from, they will have to wait at the reception at around 0530 hours

ADITIONAL INFORMATION

 GOOD NEWS ON MASAI MARA GAME RESERVE IN KENYA

 7TH WONDER OF THE WORLD

 KENYAN’S MAASAI MARA IS NAMED AMONG THE MOST SPECTACULAR PLACES ON THE PLANET.

Kenya’s tourism received a shot in the arm yesterday when a panel of experts and a major American television channel declared the annual wildebeest migration one of the seven new wonders of the world.

Broadcasting live from the Maasai Mara  to millions  of American homes the channel made the declaration during its breakfast show” Good Morning America”. Every year the wildebeests migrate from the Mara inKenyato theSerengetiNational ParkinTanzania, attracting thousands of tourists to witness the rare event in nature.

Yesterday’s TV show, which featured a live interview with Kenya Wildlife Service director Julius Kipng’etich was the culmination of six days during which panellists invited by the channel voted for new wonders of the world.

The new wonders are separate from the conventionalSeven Wonders of the Worldknown for centuries and which are classified by UNESCO. Coming at time , when the west including the USA have been issuing travel advisories  warning their citizens against travelling to East Africa  over alleged security threats , the declaration  and exposure  during the live broadcast will be a major boost in the tourism industry in Kenya  and Tanzania .

The panel of experts included oceanographer, a tour expert, a range and wildlife management expert. The Maasai Mara and Serengeti and the wildebeest migration were selected as one of the new wonders because of what experts termed as “the uniqueness of the area and the preservation it provides to so many species living in harmony.”

The six other new wonders of the world according to ABC are Tibet’s Potalas Palace, Selected for the hope it provides to exiled Tibetans that one day will return to their homeland: The Old Jerusalem City, which is holy to both Muslims and Christians: The Polar Ice Caps in Iceland for the mixture of cold frozen glaziers and volcanoes: the underwater Hawaiian Island‘s Monument, a protected underwater coral reef: the internet –described as a world where anything is possible and: the Mayan Pyramids in Cancun, in Mexico whose sight was described as breathtaking.

In their citation ,the panelists said: “More than one Million  wildebeests ,half a million gazelles, and 200,000 zebras constantly on the move –they’re all in search of fresh grass and water .Welcome to the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara plains in the heart of East Africa-the seventh New Wonder of the world.

Covering about 10,000 square miles of land teaming with life, the Serengeti is home not only to some of the most diverse wildlife on the planet but start and finish line for one of the world’s last greatest migrations. “Good Morning America‘s expert panel had a spirited debate about the merits of a movable, natural wonder of the world.

“It’s one of the greatest wonders in terms of animal migrations.” said oceanographer and panellist Sylvia Earle.” It’s just over the top. “In the end, the uniqueness of the area and the preservation it provides to so many species living in harmony landed it on the ABC list.

“Serengeti – Mara ecosystems (are) considered to be perhaps the last of the eco-systems in which human impact is less than five per cent,” said Prof Karim Hirji, former Director of Serengeti wildlife research centre.

Every year ,wildebeest ,zebras and gazelles roam ,pushing ever  forward in a clockwise rotation covering the Maasai Mara in Kenya  and Serengeti in Tanzania ,along the way encountering friends and foes alike.” There’s high drama almost the whole time,” said tour guide Mr. David Bromham.”If they’re not birthing 300,000 calves in three –week period, they’re leaping into rivers for 20(feet) up.” Wildebeests may have been making the trek for millions of years, coping with disease, drought and predators.

“It would be astonishing and wondrous to watch the migrations go by,” said Mr. Neil de Grasse Tyson, a panellist and astrophysicist. Those lucky enough to travel here see wild animals in their purest state. On the East African plains, you’ll see lions, elephant’s giraffes and a lot of wildebeests. Guide Gerald Selempo told “Good Morning America’s” Weekend Edition “anchor Kate Snow that area residents had a nick name for the animals.

“They call them ‘the clowns ‘because when you look at a wildebeest he looks like he was up of the left over of all other animals.”Selempo said. “They have like a head of a buffalo, have a tail of a horse .they have legs of an antelope .They just don’t look very balanced.”

But the wildebeest do bring balance to this fragile eco-system. They are the heart and soul of the migration the key to survival on the plains. “Without the migration, its harder to conceive Serengeti – Mara being what it is today,”Hirji said .Everything else survives within that migration.”The herds follow the rains.” They just move and hopefully wherever they’re going. They can get as much grass and water as possible,”Mr. Selempo said.

After spending the late summer and early fall in the north, here in the Maasai Mara, dry land and lack of food forces the herds south to the Serengeti, which is lush with new grass. There’s even a pattern to the way they eat. First, the zebras come.” The zebra seems to be eating the top grass,”Mr Selempo said.” The wildebeest go for the middle and then the herd beasts ….like the gazelles, go for the lowest part.”

It’s not always easy .With the circle of life, comes the promise of death .Lions, cheetahs and leopards look forward to the herds ‘arrival. Wildebeests are easy prey for a big cat, and once the predators are done, the vultures move in to clear away the left over. Sometimes the migrating beasts seal their own fate. One group of wildebeest’s starts outgoing south, but are then distracted when they senses rain to the north. The result can be crossing the river several times, sometimes 10, 20 times, depending on which direction they are going,”Mr Selempo said.

But the miracle of the Great Migration is that the animals mysteriously find their way.

No one knows exactly how far back the migration dates, perhaps millions of years. But one change in the environment here can trigger enormous consequences. In the early 1900s, a savage disease cut throughAfrica, and drastically reduced the herds from two million to just a few hundred thousand.

Then, a devastating drought in the 1990’s decimated the population even further.

“If the climate changes drastically, then this whole equilibrium, this whole tune up, this whole finely tuned movement is going to be thrown out of phase,”Hirji said. The wildebeest population is stable again and is more than a million strong.

In the late winter and early spring, the herds move to their version of a maternity ward-the nutrient –rich south. It’s the only place on the migration route where wildebeests can successfully have babies. And they do: 300,000 calves are born in just three weeks. Those new babies join their parents, the zebras, and other migratory animals making the turn north and following the rains again, a never ending circle reminding man of the wonder of life.

Kenya Film Commission managing director Wachira Waruru and Mr. Ong’ong’a Achieng of the Kenya Tourism Board helped facilitate the filming by ABC. They won the cooperation of the Narok County Council, and also got the Communications Commissions of Kenya to substantially reduce the fees payable by ABC for the live satellite feed from the Mara to theUS.

Panel of experts

The panel of experts included an oceanographer, tour expert, and range and wildlife management expert. The wildebeest migration was chosen for the uniqueness of the area and the preservation it provides to so many species living in harmony. It covers about 10,000 square miles of land stretching acrossKenyaandTanzania. The experts have been inKenyasince June filming and studying the migration.

An annual ritual in search of lush grass

Every year, the Maasai Mara game reserve receives an influx of wildebeest and other animals fromTanzania’s Ngorongoro and Serengeti national parks. According to naturalists, the migration is probably the greatest wildlife spectacle on earth.

When the dry season approaches on the Serengeti plains between June and August, herds of wildebeest and other herbivores such s elands, zebras and Gazelles start moving towards the Malaysia Mara in the search of greener pasture. The Migration can involve up to 2 Million animals walking and browsing across the plains till they reach the Grummeti and Mara rivers where, in a hurry to get to the green plains of the Maasai Mara, they plunge wildly in to the water .Then it is survival for the fittest as hundreds of waiting crocodiles start to feast.

Three to five Months

Even though some are devoured by the reptiles and others trampled upon, many make it across and, after three to five months of feeding and fattening, they start the journey back in the late November depending on how green the other side is. Contrary to popular belief ,the migration particularly the crossing of the rivers –is not a one –off occurrence :it goes on over a period of weeks- or even months –as the Mara river which the animals cross is long and meanders across the Mara plains.

Normally, the herds gather at suitable crossings points and wander around anxiously, with one taking the first plunge to see if there is any danger on the other side. Then others follow. It is not possible for the millions of animals to cross all at once .The big herd breaks into smaller ones and they cross the river at different time and places. And even after the initial crossing to the Kenyan side, there are “minor” back and-forth crossings as they seek pasture.

Many Young Animals

The rivers are awash with crocodiles, and this is what makes crossing a risky business for the animals, and the most spectacular for humans. The animals walk long distances along  the river looking for suitable places to cross ,and when they find the most secure ,which  do not have  vegetation ,they literary  take the plunge, goading the sleepy –looking crocodiles  into action as they start going for the weaker animals. Even though the river is the last obstacle, many young animals die from exhaustion during the trek. Many weaker animals cannot cope with the strong water currents or the buffeting from other animals as they swim. Hundreds die during the crossing, and their carcasses litter the water

NOTE:

Hot air balloon flight is organized from ALL lodges and camps in Masai Mara Game, in Kenya and in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania Park and the itinerary is the same though pick up time differs depending on the distance from the point of the flight commencement.

Price to be quoted at the time of booking for clarity reasons

What is included?

  • The above rate includes the Balloon Safari
  • A full champagne safari breakfast freshly cooked at the landing site
  • You will get a souvenir flight certificate too
  • A game drive on the return to camp

What is not included?

  • Drinks
  • Tips for the service approximately USD 10.00 per person per day, but of course
  • Yellow fever vaccination
  • Visa
  • Things of personal use

PRICE;

Price per person USD 470.00

EASTER SURCHARGE AND CHRISTMAS SURCHARGE

  • A surcharge would be charged per person per night on Good Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Easter Monday and on 24th 25th, 26th, 31st December and 1st January. THE SUPPLEMENT WOULD BE CONFIRMED AT THE TIME OF BOOKING FOR CLARITY REASONS.

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