In Summary
  • It’s a truly magical moment, the ultimate adventure, a wonder that leaves many dumbstruck after watching wildlife from a bird’s eye view as they float silently mid-air in the early morning breeze.
  • Hot air balloon safaris are a show stopper when it comes to wildlife safaris; the scenery from a hot air balloon gives the ultimate safari experience as one views different kinds of wildlife from a comfortable distance.
  • “It is a different mystical experience every time you go up there,” says Peter Mbugua, director of Africa Balloon Fiesta, adding that hot air balloons are universally fascinating regardless of the spectators’ age, income or occupation.

It’s a truly magical moment, the ultimate adventure, a wonder that leaves many dumbstruck after watching wildlife from a bird’s eye view as they float silently mid-air in the early morning breeze.

It all begins at sunrise. Tourists gather at dawn, sipping champagne as they have breakfast in the cool morning Mara plains while watching the pilot and his crew build up what seems like a giant tent.

Soon the balloon is fully inflated, it is colourful, alive and spectacular as it takes off into the air with a handful of tourists on board.

After a briefing by the pilot, they are ready to ascend in order to catch a glimpse of the animals in the vast Mara plains.

Hot air balloon safaris are a show stopper when it comes to wildlife safaris; the scenery from a hot air balloon gives the ultimate safari experience as one views different kinds of wildlife from a comfortable distance.

BUSH BREAKFAST

This is the only true way to experience the whole vista; the beautiful rolling hills and flat plains, a topographical view of the action below with magnificent views of the land features, the great migration, herds of elephant, antelope, giraffes feeding from the tree tops and cheetah, leopards, lions hunting for their meal and of course, a complete bush breakfast.

“It is a different mystical experience every time you go up there,” says Peter Mbugua, director of Africa Balloon Fiesta, adding that hot air balloons are universally fascinating regardless of the spectators’ age, income or occupation.

The view from the air shows the entire animal reserve fading into the horizon and breathtaking differences in terrain and animal activity that is otherwise not visible from ground level.

The Mara is where you will have one of those breathtaking, heart-stopping moments, a crack of dawn balloon ride over nature’s playground.

However, the notion that balloon safaris are way too expensive has hindered most enthusiasts from enjoying the spectacle that awaits them.

The usual cost for a one-hour flight in the Mara is Sh40,800 for adults and half the price for children under 12 years.

The balloon travels 15 to 25 kilometres, depending on wind conditions.

A balloon fiesta to be held in December has given enthusiasts the chance to enjoy a ride at an affordable rate as well as support the ‘Hands Off Our Elephant’s’ campaign.

ECO-FRIENDLY

Africa Balloon Fiesta, in partnership with Brussels Airlines and Kempinski Hotels, launched this initiative to promote the use of hot air balloons as an alternative to game drives as an eco-friendly way to view wildlife.

The event to be held at the Fig Tree Camp in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve from 6th-8th December will see various hot air balloon enthusiasts locally and from Australia, Sweden and Belgium fly their balloons in solidarity with this initiative.

“We are expecting 20 to 50 colourful balloons to lift off in mass ascension, flying banners with conservation and anti-poaching messages and slogans in order to highlight the need for conservation dubbed Unique Shape Fiesta,” says Pierre Declerck, Brussels Airlines country manager, which is one of the official sponsors of the fiesta.

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