An African safari is not complete without going on a flight on a hot air-driven balloon. In 1976, Alan Root and his spouse Joan- wildlife film makers, used a hot air-driven balloon to shoot movie clips of wild animals. It was more convenient, to use the balloon to discover places where an auto could not reach, to shoot sensational aerials of wildlife.
Its dawn in the Masai Mara. The canopy of darkness is quite heavy on the morning and makes the red orange flame from the furnace of the hot-air balloon beam vividly bright.
As the sun emerges from behind the mountains, the 100-foot high balloon is afloat across the Masai Mara plains with every one of us lodged in a woven carrier installed on the massive balloon.
Adrift, we have a vantage eagle’s eye scenery of the expanse of the Masai Mara and the Serengeti Parks extending to the extent where the eye can perceive. It seems infinite.
We take 90 degrees turn and below we sight the heads of giraffes through the canopies of acacia bushes as they nibble the leaves, scarcely noticing us drifting in the air in the sky above.
After one hour or so adrift, the journey comes to an end with a bouncy landing bringing us back to the ground. Next we crawl out of the basket to a champagne breakfast. The beauty is that this breakfast occurs in the wild, wherever you land, and it’s made as you watch with the burners that a short while before held you suspended in the air. What a way to start our day! Ask Daniel, a guy who know very well how to organise a tour here
“In recent times, there has been improvements in hot air balloon technological innovation. The furnaces are far better and less noisy than the first balloon safaris” explains the captain.
“One thing that amazes a good number of first-time balloonists is the absolute stillness, the serenity as you cruise above the savanah, the woodland and the rivers of the Masai Mara. The sounds below drift clearly up-wards: a lion’s bellow, elephants crashing through the bush, baboons perched on the tops of the trees and shrubs. If you’re fortunate you will scale high above for the view of a lifetime. ” the captain offers.
After year end rains, the vegetation is lush green as we drive back to our camp watching wildlife en-route. It is contrasting as these are the same plains which, in November, were golden, dried out and hash.
Unexpectedly we encounter a mother cheetah marking her tree, spraying the area with urine. Once done, she checks our group and then makes a soft tweeting sound as she makes her way through the thicket. Most probably she is looking for her litter.
The grasslands are packed with elephants, buffaloes, topi, wildebeests and other antelopes and the scene is just great.