Flying above Serengeti in a hot air balloon is probably one of the most magical experiences one can live. If you are in Tanzania make sure to add this to your safari plans!
One of my lifelong dreams was to fly in a hot air balloon. A while ago I put a picture I found in a magazine up on my vision board (yes I have a vision board, don’t you have one?!), it was a picture of somewhere in Northern Tanzania, there were a few zebras happily chilling in the grass and a yellow and green hot air balloon flying above them. A year or so goes by and I finally score a gig in Tanzania. When I get there the picture on my board comes to mind, I really really want to go on a hot air balloon, so I get on my computer and start emailing a few companies to see if we could work together. One gets back to me right away and they says yes!
The day after they come pick me up from my camp at 5.30 am, I’m in nearly comatose state, it’s still dark out, it rained all night and the dirt roads are like rivers now. Suddenly the driver stops…right in front of us a group of lions. I roll my window down, they are just a few meters from us, one of the lioness startes straight into my eyes, and I feel incredibly alive. We let them get out of the way then keep cruising through the puddles, the sky is getting brighter, a nice fresh breeze caresses my cheeks, you can hear nothing but a few birds tweeting, magic’s in the air.
After driving for about 45 minutes we see fire in the distance. We’re there! We get to the launch site, a team of 5 guys is inflating the balloon. The pilot goes through the safety norms and instructions in the meanwhile, the balloon is almost completely filled now, I move further away to take some pictures, and I almost drop my camera when I realize: that’s the exact same balloon in the picture on my vision board…Oh life ✨
We all get into the basket, the flames are roaring, in a few minutes, very smoothly, the ballon starts floating and we can stand up. Minutes goes by and no one is talking, silence is the only appropriate sound to honor what I’m seeing. I’m supposed to take pictures but for once I want to just fucking enjoy this moment and I set my camera down (for a while!). We drift through the wind in awe, we see some giraffes, a group of zebras, a lonely lion. Time seems to not even exist up here and an hour goes by in a heartbeat. Everything is just beautiful, so beautiful I almost feel like crying. How lucky we are to live on this planet, and how stupid we are to constantly destroy it,I think. As we start descending I can feel the basket scraping the tops of the acacia trees full of baboons. I give one last glance to Mother Earth from up there and then sit down for landing.
We land smoothly on the grass and after we get off the crew brings out the champagne for a post-flight toast. We get back in the jeep and drive to another part of Serengeti to have breakfast in the middle of the savannah under the trees surrounded by a few curious animals. It has been a very good day.
Another dream come true, another memory that I hope will never fade.
Thank you life 💛
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A SERENGETI HOT AIR BALLOON SAFARI
The company I worked with is called Serengeti Ballooon Safaris, they are the biggest and oldest company doing balloon safaris in Tanzania (their first flight was in 1989). How does it work and what should you expect?
Pre down pick up, usually around 5/5.30 AM. You won’t be alone, there will be other guests in the balloon with you (usually around 12 people). Flight time is around 1 hour (depending on wind and such) and the balloon can reach up to 1000 ft. You will see some wild animals but most likely they will be pretty far away. After the flight there’s breakfast (full english breakfast with rivers of mimosas) in a beautiful setting and drop-off at the visitor center around 10.30 AM.
WHEN TO GO
It’s open all year around but during rainy season (March to May) flights depend on weather conditions so you might miss it if you only have a day or two in Serengeti. Dry season is definitely the best tim eto go (June to October)
WHAT TO WEAR
Comfortable clothes (layer up, it’s chilly when yo get there at sunrise and it gets warmer later), sunscreen, a small backpack . Bringing binoculars is a good idea.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST AND IS IT WORTH IT?
A balloon ride is definitely not a cheap bucket list item, the total price is usually around US$546 balloons cost a few hundred thousand dollars each but their life-span is of only a few hundred hours. It requires a minimum crew of 6 aviation experts to get the balloon in the air plus a crew 0f 10 workers for each flight and part of the fee goes towards conservation funds. Yes, it’s quite expensive, but the feeling you get when you are up there, looking down at the Earth is seriously priceless, it’s a one of a life time experience.
This was seriously one of the most incredible things I ever did on a trip, it left me speechless and inspired, I hope to do it again somewhere else one day and I wish you will get to experience it too!
A big thank you to Serengeti Balloon Safaris for making this experience possible
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