balloon safaris history

Balloon Safaris History


Balloon Safari - The Ultimate Safari Experience!
Flying in a balloon was once a dream to author Jules Verne. But a century later in 1962, his dream came true and has since gained following, with a few balloon safari organizations in Kenya expressing plans of reviewing their offers to accommodate more balloon enthusiasts.

Flying in a balloon is considered a breathtaking experience by many, as it serves as a great opportunity to see wildlife and beautiful landscapes like mountains and rivers from an aerial view. Since its birth in East Africa in the 1960s, millions have engaged in the adventure over the years in during holidays such as the upcoming Easter holiday.

The balloon safaris all began some 100 years After Jules Verne wrote his book “Five weeks in a Balloon”, say historians. Hot Air Balloonist Antony Smith and photographer cum movie director Sir Alan Root, successfully flew in a Hot Air Balloon from Zanzibar to the inner parts of Tanzania and later, through the Serengeti and the Great Rift Valley. That inspired Sir Alan Root to produce the film, “Safari by Balloon” watched by an estimated 98 million people in 28 countries.

But their desires didn’t end there. In January 1976, Smith felt that people visiting the Maasai Mara could enjoy fantastic sights from a Hot Air Balloon. That year, the first-time flight took off from Keekorok Lodge in the Mara National Reserve in which to date, thousands have since noted down the wildlife they saw while in the skies.

Other areas became popular too, for the balloon safari adventure such as Mara Sarova Camp, Mara Serena lodge and other camps along the Great Rift Valley. On the day of departure in the wee hours of the morning, guests receive a wakeup call in their tented camps or lodges. And after a hearty breakfast of local teas and battings, with expectations and curiosity on what to expect, guests are whisked off to the departure site of the grand hot air balloon.

Usually, about 12 to 14 people enter the balloon’s basket. Guests are advised to wear warm clothing and bring along a camera and a notebook to list the animals and other attractive sites they would see. And once guests are in, the pilot lights up the banners and as the flames flare, the balloon begins to inflate and then it rises to the skies. Suspended in a basket beneath the balloon, guests receive a clear aerial view of the wildlife, plantation, and rivers beneath them.

Amazing about the balloon safari, is the absolute stillness and silence as it glides through the skies. Occasionally sounds below can be heard such as elephants bustling through bushes, baboons screeching from trees, a lion’s roar to mention a few lively activities. Once a hour is over, when the balloon lands, guests are treated to a celebration with a Champaign breakfast in the middle of the wilderness. Certificates are then awarded to guests that have had an opportunity to fly in a balloon.

Balloon Safari Itinerary
You will have to rise early, usually before dawn around 4–5 am to be taken from your camp to the ballooning start point. On getting there you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while you watch as the balloon is inflated. When they are ready you clamber into the basket and your pilot will give you a short briefing. Then, as the sun rises, so does your balloon. The direction you take will depend on the wind and you may float over forest, plains or rivers. Your pilot will point out the game below and there are ample opportunities for photography. One of the best things about ballooning is that’s totally silent apart from the occasional noise from the balloon’s burners. After around an hour you will land on the plains, possibly with a bump and certainly ready for breakfast.

Champagne Breakfast
Once you’ve landed a breakfast will be set up and served for you in the middle of the park. You can enjoy a glass of champagne whilst the table is laid and sausages cooked for you.
Sitting on a camp stool, tucking into breakfast and watching the birds soar overhead is a magical experience. After breakfast you climb into your safari vehicle and enjoy a game drive back to camp

How to book a balloon safari
  • Tell us your preferred balloon safari date?
  • Tell us who is going with you? I.E the number of Adults and Kids?
  • Have you booked your accommodation and in which camp or lodge?
  • Any other details we may find useful, such as if it's a special occasion
  • At 0500 hours, wakeup call
  • At 0530 hours, pick up and transfer to the launch site
  • At 0600 hours, arrival at launch site
  • At 0615 hours, lift off for a flight of about one hour

Rates Include
  • Balloon Flight (approximately duration is one hour)
  • Transfers from nearby camps and lodges
  • Champagne style bush breakfast
  • Transfer back to camp after breakfast
  • Reserve or Conservancy Landing Fees depending on where you are staying

Rates Exclude
  • Accommodation at the camp/lodge

Where are balloon flights done in East Africa
1) Maasai Mara
The scenery from a hot air balloon is unforgettable due to its spectacular and breathtaking nature; the ultimate safari experience. The hot air balloon flight takes you over the diverse habitats of the Masai Mara Reserve; the great Mara River, swamps, forests, wildlife and the African Savannah. The diversity of our flight trail enables passengers to experience a unique opportunity to be a part of the Masai Mara from the air.

MEMORIES ARE FOREVER: The gentle and silent nature of the balloon flight allows the passengers to view the big five from a comfortable distance.

2) Amboseli National Park
Crowned by Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, the Amboseli National Parks is one of Kenya's most popular parks. The name "Amboseli" comes from a Maasai word meaning "salty dust", and it is one of the best places in Africa to view large herds of elephants up close. Nature lovers can explore five different habitats here ranging from the dried-up bed of Lake Amboseli, wetlands with sulphur springs, the savannah and woodlands. They can also visit the local Maasai community who live around the park and experience their authentic culture.

At dawn we take off, rising as the sun rises from east and float whichever direction the winds of the morning take us to encounter the many variations of the Amboseli ecosystem, Kilimanjaro to the south, Amboseli National Park to the north from our takeoff point. Explore plentiful wildlife Kenya is famous for from the sky throughout this area like nocturnal .leopard that could be seen early in the morning, cheetah, wild dogs, buffalo, elephant, giraffe, zebra, lion, crocodile, mongoose, hyrax, dik- dik, and lesser kudu. Prolific birdlife features 600 species and the local Maasai Manyattas and Bomas in the area are seen as the flight drifts across the park

Remember to bring your camaras and/or binoculars! Flights generally last about 1 hour, but actual flight time can vary from 45-minutes to 1 ½ hours, depending on the weather of the day, and the conditions ‘Mother Nature’ has provided us. NOTE: We can not guarantee a flight length, or direction, or what animals/game are seen on a given day. We are “one with nature” and every day is different, fresh and changes in the wind direction can occur.

3) Serengeti National Park
Serengeti National Park could be one of the most beautiful balloon flight in the world and the ultimate safari experience. 05:00 hours, we will collect you from your Central Serengeti, Western Corridor, or Serengeti South lodge or camp, and transfer you by Land rover/Land cruiser to our launch site. Here you will meet your pilot, receive a briefing and watch the inflation of your balloon.

At dawn we take off, rising as the sun rises and float whichever direction the winds of the morning take us. Your pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon: sometimes flying at treetop height, sometimes lower, offering a unique perspective and great photographic opportunities of the wildlife below. At other times our pilot may ascend to 1000 feet or more to see the enormity and wonderful panorama of the Serengeti National Park. From time to time the pilot must put more heat into the balloon with the powerful whisper burners. In between these burns, there is silence apart from the natural sounds below. The flight is for about one hour depending on conditions, and eventually you must land. You celebrate in the traditional manner with champagne (well, an excellent sparkling wine) before sitting down to a full English breakfast prepared and served in the bush in “Out of Africa”, linen table cloth, King’s silver ETC.

After breakfast you receive your balloon certificate and later meet up with your safari driver ready to continue your day’s activities.

4) Tarangire National Park
Rise before the sun and prepare to take off on an exciting hot air balloon flight in the early light of dawn. Ascend to the heavens as the sun rises, painting the dim sky with bright orange and blue hues, as you glide over the amazing landscape. Delight in a scenic flight in the comfort of a massive, weaved basket, and securely attached to a billowing, colour lined balloon. Float across the open African sky, past plump clouds and above green bush lands.

Pass over the Tarangire River, surrounded by granitic rock, dense swamps, and the deep river valley, all within Tarangire National Park. The Park stretches across a vast area of 2 850 square kilometres (1100 square miles). Gaze down in amazement at the crests of ancient, millennial old baobab trees with deep roots and branches that tower up to 30 metres high. Marvel at the sheer number of elephant herds, still immense from above. Lucky guests can even spot the elusive leopard on the hunt, in the grey twilight, before the sun fully rises. After landing, end your hour-long adventure with a delightful and rustic bush breakfast served in the heart of Tarangire national park.

Work with Top Africa Safaris

We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.

24 hours turn around time that guarantees quick quotations and their respective itineraries

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