A family safari in Africa is extraordinary in every way. I’m not a fan of flying (in airplanes or otherwise), but the offer from Bateleur Camp to organize an early morning hot air balloon ride over the Masai Mara with Skyship Company was too compelling to pass up.
These photos don’t lie, this adventure was absolutely phenomenal.
The sensation of floating above the African plains at sunrise is one we’ll never forgot. There are just seconds of noise as the burners are inflamed, but otherwise, the experience is fantastically peaceful. On our journey we floated just above the treetops which allowed us to get a clear glimpse of the animals below.
While some of them were spooked by the noise of the balloon, others, like these elephants, were simply curious and stopped to look up at us floating by.
The wind is the boss and determines how long you fly. Our flight lasted about an hour. On arrival, a made-to-order breakfast feast was waiting in the bush (eggs, pancakes, waffles included) – what a treat! First, however, we drank champagne and toasted to our safe landing, a long-standing tradition in ballooning.
Our pilot, Mr. Gelbart Shachar, was exceptional; of course, the experience is new and unnerving, but never did we feel unsafe. Our landing was bumpy (courtesy of a few large termite mounds) and made our 8-year-old giggle like mad.
Go figure, the pilot and I played the name game and discovered that he knows my brother-in-law. A mind-blowing example of it’s a small, small world …
If You Go
I like the hot air balloon safari for ages 10 and up. Our 8-year-old enjoyed it (the minimum age is 4), but didn’t quite appreciate the splendor of the experience and we were conscious of him disturbing other participants on their ride-of-a-lifetime. Despite the fact that he is a big boy, he could barely see over the basket edge.
Skyship Company has been operating in the Masai Mara since 2006; they work with most of the luxury lodges in the area. At $US 415 for adults and $207.50 for children (excluding the landing fee), a hot air balloon safari is not an inexpensive date. But, it’s well worth it as you see the animals and landscape from an unforgettable, outrageous vantage point.
Editorial Note: Ciao Bambino had a complimentary ride from Skyship Company. We were not asked to present any particular point of view in our follow up coverage of the experience.