Serengeti Balloon Safaris

Serengeti Balloon safaris are a perfect way to explore the Serengeti, it is a  truly remarkable experience as you float above the wilderness of the Serengeti in the background of the rising sun, heading whichever direction the winds take you. This is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that will take you high above the vast plains, acacia woodlands, and meandering rivers of the Serengeti, offering you panoramic views and incredible wildlife sightings. Here are some of the reasons why you should book a Serengeti hot air balloon safari for your next African trip.

The Beauty of Aerial Views

There is nothing quite like seeing the Serengeti from the sky, especially during the early morning hours when the light is soft and golden. You will be amazed by the sheer beauty and diversity of the landscape, which stretches as far as the eye can see. You will also have a chance to spot some of the landmarks of the Serengeti, such as the Moru Kopjes, the Simba Kopjes, and the Maasai Kopjes, which are rocky outcrops that provide shelter and shade for many animals.

One of the highlights of a hot air balloon safari is witnessing the Great Migration, the annual movement of millions of wildebeest, zebras, and other herbivores across the Serengeti in search of fresh grazing and water. Depending on the season and location of your flight, you may be able to see large herds of these animals moving in unison, creating a spectacular sight. You may also see some of the predators that follow them, such as lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and crocodiles.

Sunrise Departure

A hot air balloon safari in the Serengeti starts very early in the morning, just before sunrise. You will be picked up from your camp or lodge around 5 a.m. and driven to the launch site, where you will meet your pilot and crew. After a safety briefing and a cup of coffee or tea, you will board the balloon basket and get ready for take-off.

The reason for this early departure is to take advantage of the calm winds and optimal lighting conditions that occur at this time of day. As you ascend into the sky, you will witness one of the most magical moments of your safari: watching the sun rise over the horizon and illuminate the Serengeti with its warm rays. You will also see how the Serengeti comes alive with sounds and movements of animals waking up and starting their day.

Silent and Peaceful Flight

One of the best things about a hot air balloon safari is that it is a silent and peaceful experience. Unlike a game drive vehicle, which has an engine noise that can scare away some animals, a hot air balloon floats quietly above the ground, allowing you to enjoy a tranquil and immersive wildlife viewing experience. The only sound you will hear is the occasional blast of hot air that keeps the balloon aloft.

This silence also gives you a chance to listen to the sounds of nature, such as the calls of birds, monkeys, hyenas, and lions. You will feel like you are part of the Serengeti ecosystem, rather than an intruder. You will also appreciate the serenity and solitude of being in a hot air balloon with only a few other passengers, away from the crowds and vehicles that can sometimes congest some areas of the park.

Wildlife Spotting

The main attraction of a hot air balloon safari in the Serengeti is, of course, the wildlife. The Serengeti is home to more than 70 mammal species and over 500 bird species, making it one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. From a hot air balloon, you will have a unique perspective of observing these animals from above, without disturbing them or interfering with their natural behavior.

You will be able to see large groups of animals that are difficult to spot from ground level, such as herds of wildebeest, zebras, giraffes, elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, and gazelles. You will also have a chance to spot some of the elusive and rare animals that inhabit the Serengeti, such as leopards, rhinos, cheetahs, servals, caracals, wild dogs, and bat-eared foxes. You may even see some of the interactions and movements of these animals from above, such as hunting, mating, fighting, or crossing rivers.

Skilled Pilots and Guides

Another reason why you should book a Serengeti hot air balloon safari is that you will be accompanied by skilled pilots and guides who have years of experience and knowledge about flying in this area. They will ensure your safety and comfort throughout your flight while providing informative commentary about the wildlife, ecosystems, and landmarks that you will see during your flight.

Your pilot will also be able to maneuver the balloon to different altitudes and directions, depending on the wind conditions and the sightings that you encounter. This will give you the best possible views and angles of the Serengeti and its inhabitants. Your guide will also be able to answer any questions that you may have about the Serengeti and its history, culture, and conservation.

Safety Precautions

You may be wondering if a hot air balloon safari in the Serengeti is safe. The answer is yes, as long as you book with a reputable and licensed operator that follows the strict safety standards and regulations that govern this activity. Some of the safety precautions that are taken during a hot air balloon safari include:

  • Detailed safety briefings before the flight, explaining the dos and don’ts of flying in a hot air balloon, such as how to board, how to sit, how to land, and how to behave during the flight.
  • Regular maintenance and inspection of the equipment, such as the balloon envelope, the basket, the burners, the fuel tanks, and the instruments.
  • Adherence to the flight regulations and guidelines, such as the maximum altitude, the minimum distance from animals, the weather conditions, and the emergency procedures.
  • Use of radio communication between the pilot and the ground crew, who follow the balloon in a vehicle and assist with landing and recovery.
  • Provision of insurance coverage for passengers and crew in case of any accidents or injuries.

Duration of the Balloon Safari

A typical hot air balloon safari in the Serengeti lasts for about four hours, including the flight time and any additional activities or experiences that may be included. The flight time is usually around one hour, depending on the wind conditions and the landing site. During this time, you will soar above the plains, forests, rivers, and hills of the Serengeti, enjoying a panoramic view of the landscape and the animals below. You may see herds of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, buffalo, elephant, giraffe, and more, as well as predators like lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas. You may also spot some of the rare and endangered species that live in the park, such as rhinos, black-maned lions, and wild dogs.

After landing, you will be treated to a champagne toast to celebrate your flight, followed by a delicious bush breakfast in a scenic location. You will also receive a certificate of your flight as a souvenir. Depending on your package, you may also enjoy some additional activities or experiences after your breakfast, such as a game drive, a visit to a local village, or a guided walk.

Booking Process

To book a hot air balloon safari in the Serengeti, you need to contact one of the reputable operators that offer this service in the park. You can do this through your travel agent. You should book your flight well in advance, as there is limited availability and high demand for this activity.  Book ahead by getting in touch with our safari experts at Masai Mara Holidays Ltd

When booking your flight, you will need to discuss your preferences and requirements with the operator, such as your preferred date, time, location, and number of passengers. You will also need to provide some personal information, such as your name, age, weight, height, and any medical conditions that may affect your ability to fly. The operator will then confirm your booking and send you an invoice for payment. You will need to pay a deposit or the full amount before your flight date.

You will also need to secure a permit from the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) to fly in the Serengeti. This is usually done by the operator on your behalf, but you will need to pay an additional fee for this service. The permit fee varies depending on the season and location of your flight.

Best Times to Experience a Hot Air Balloon Safari

The best time to experience a hot air balloon safari in the Serengeti depends on what you want to see and do during your flight. The Serengeti is a year-round destination for wildlife viewing, but some seasons or months may offer better opportunities than others.

If you want to witness the Great Migration, which is the annual movement of millions of wildebeest and other animals across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in search of food and water, you need to plan your flight according to their location and movement patterns. The migration is not predictable or linear, but it generally follows a circular route that covers different regions of the park throughout the year. The best time to see the migration from a balloon is from December to March in the Ndutu area (southern Serengeti), where they congregate for calving season; from June to October in the Western Corridor (western Serengeti), where they cross the Grumeti River; and from July to October in northern Serengeti (near Kogatende), where they cross the Mara River into Kenya.

If you want to enjoy clear skies and pleasant weather during your flight, you should avoid the rainy seasons in the Serengeti. The long rains occur from March to May and the short rains occur from November to December. During these periods, there may be heavy downpours that can affect visibility and flight safety. The dry seasons are from June to October and from January to February. During these periods, there is less cloud cover and more sunshine, which makes for ideal flying conditions.

Pricing and Inclusions

The pricing of a hot air balloon safari in the Serengeti varies depending on the operator, the season, and the location of your flight. The average cost is around $600 per person, but it can range from $500 to $700 or more. This price usually includes the following:

  • Transfers from and to your camp or lodge
  • Flight briefing and safety instructions
  • One-hour balloon flight
  • Champagne toast and bush breakfast
  • Flight certificate
  • TANAPA permit fee

Some operators may also include some additional activities or services in their package, such as a game drive, a visit to a local village, or a guided walk. You should check with your operator what is included and what is not before booking your flight.

Health and Physical Requirements

To participate in a hot air balloon safari in the Serengeti, you need to meet some health and physical requirements. These are:

  • You must be at least six years old and 1.2 meters tall to fly in a balloon. Children under 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
  • You must be able to stand for at least one hour during the flight and climb in and out of the basket.
  • You must not have any serious medical conditions that may affect your ability to fly, such as heart problems, high blood pressure, epilepsy, or asthma. You should consult your doctor before booking your flight if you have any doubts about your health.
  • You must not be pregnant or have had recent surgery or injuries.
  • You must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the flight.