Balloon Safari In Serengeti: Is It Worth It?
It is an experience of a lifetime as you rise with the sun and gently bob through the air in whichever direction the winds of the morning take you. It is a spellbinding scene as you witness herds of wildebeest, towers of giraffe, or a pride of lions running across the plains of the Serengeti just a few hundred meters below and your eye darting to every possible corner, euphoric on adrenalin and gasps of “wow” and “ohhh” are the only words you can muster. Definitely worth it as it is one of those trips that you will remember for all time.
How Does It Work?There are several hot air balloon safari companies, but it is still advisable to pre-book this popular activity for your Serengeti safari holiday. This activity cannot be organized on the day and due to the reliance on favorable weather, it is not on offer throughout the year. Price per person is around 500 to 600 USD, which covers the ride, a champagne toast after the landing, and a delicious bush breakfast with options for vegan/ vegetarians.
The price reflects the relatively high cost of maintaining and servicing the balloons as well as the rest of the pre and post-launch activities, including launching and recovery as well as the road transport to and from the launch site. Each trip also requires a licensed pilot and a formidable team of around 20. Keep in mind, also, that because the weight of the balloon is a crucial safety consideration, passengers who weigh over 120 kilos (265 pounds) may need to reserve two places.
As such, it might be too pricey for budget and standard travelers, but if it is within your means, the feeling you’ll get when you are up there and looking down at the incredible scene below is priceless. So yes, it’s 100% worth it. The balloons are huge and the compartmented comfy baskets can accommodate from around 8 to 16 people for each voyage depending on the size. At this time, only children over seven years old are allowed on the trip and they must be accompanied by an adult.
When To Go
The dry season (June to October) is the ideal time for a hot balloon safari in the Serengeti. During the rainy months of March, April, and May, some companies will still offer tours, although actual flight will depend on the weather conditions – if it is too rainy or windy, the flight will be canceled and your payment will be fully refunded. If you have still had ample time left for your holiday, the flight can be rescheduled to another day. Thankfully, the dry season is also the perfect time to witness the Great Migration, so floating silently above this wondrous spectacle means you’re in for a treat of a lifetime.
What to Pack
Definitely bring your binoculars and DSLR camera, so they can capture those majestic sights below that no words can do justice to. You’ll also want to wear comfortable clothes and wrap up in a few extra layers as it is usually chilly before and during the ride, though it does get warmer later.
What to Expect
Pick up is at early dawn usually around 5/5.30 AM and you could grab a coffee and a light breakfast before departing your lodge. On your way to the launch site, you may spot nocturnal animals that you could not have encountered at any other time of day.
There is a pre-launch safety briefing from the pilot while the balloon is being inflated. Flight time is approximately 1 hour and the balloon can ascend up to 1000 ft exposing the vast magnificence and spectacular panorama of the Serengeti below. The pilot can precisely control the altitude of your balloon, sometimes flying at treetop height so you can see individual animals at close quarters.
Upon landing, you will be welcomed with a champagne reception toasting to “maisha marefu”, which translates to “long life”. After that a splendid bush breakfast in the middle of the Serengeti awaits, capping off what is sure to be one of the most thrilling experiences ever.
Is a hot air balloon safari in the Serengeti worth it? Absolutely! So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with us today and ensure you have the chance to witness the majesty of Africa from the best seat in the house!
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Also published on Medium.