The A hot air balloon Safari above savannah where the flocks of zebras and antelopes is one of the most exciting adventures available for those travelling to Tanzania. The classic off-road vehicle safaris may hardly become boring even if you visit the some park.
Today, the tourists have a chance to soar above the places most worthy of observation. What is there to see with your own eyes, from a height of 320 or even 1600 ft? How would that be, flying above Tanzania in a wicker basket? Read on, and find out.
What Is so Special about the Hot Air Balloon Safari?
Paying Mother Nature a visit is always worth it. Moreover, when you can get close enough to wild animals without being noticed and still be close enough to see the details of their daily life, you feel happy as a child. A hot air balloon flight over the national parks of Tanzania offers exactly such an opportunity.
This exotic method visiting, say, the legendary Serengeti has a number of quite outstanding advantages as compared to a jeep ride:
- unusual aspect angle and impressive photographs;
- widest view angle: the birds-eye height opens the plain to you as it stretches for miles and mile;
- possibility to get stealthily close to animals while the gas burner has not yet started making noise;
- an opportunity to see thing you have missed while on the ground;
- unrestrained movement: you won’t have to follow the routes approved for the off-road vehicles;
- thrilling experience of soaring in the height.
An airborne safari is of course not the same as a drive along the routes laid before. Sure, there are some strong points to a more conventional car safari, such as high probability of coming cross animals, and a longer time of stay in the park. If you have a possibility, we would recommend to supplement a traditional safari with an airborne one, to get the maximum of being in the African Wild.
For those who have visited the national parks once or thrice and have been to Serengeti many times, a hot air balloon safari is a new experience and an opportunity to add an original aspect to Tanzanian travels.
How Does a Balloon Flight Happen?
The best time for rising above the savannah is early morning, and evening before sunset. During these periods of the day, the wind is usually the calmest and the animals are most active as they hide from the scorching sun in the shade during the day and simply sleep at night. Morning alwaconsidered the ideal time, because it is at dawn when herds of herbivores are bravely walking around, welcoming the new day, and predators are on the hunt for them. During these periods you can actually observe a lot of interesting things. And seeing the sun rise over the vast savannah is something you can only dream of!
When does a takeoff happen?:
Early, at 4 a.m. in the morning. All flights begin at about 6 a.m. An hour or an hour and a half is the time of pre-flight preparation: all the travelers are picked up from their hotels and brought to the launching site, and in the meanwhile the crew will prepare the balloon.
Balloon baskets are designed for an even number of persons, usually up to 16. There is also room for the balloon pilot. All places in the basket are standing. Once everyone on board, air pressurized into the balloon. With the help of a burner attached to the overall structure, the air in the balloon heated and it slowly rises up. The pilot adjusts the height by means of the air temperature.
In general, all balloon flights depend solely on weather conditions, most of all on the wind. Planning your upcoming adventure is directly linked to the weather forecast. Take it into account when booking your dates. We recommend you to plan your trip to Tanzania so that you’d have a few more days to spare after the day set aside for the air safari. Only the event that the flight might be postponed due to unsuitable weather. In most cases, the flight simply rescheduled for the next morning.
What is the Duration of a Hot Air Balloon Safari?
The balloon safari lasts about an hour. During this time you will see a lot, get a lot of good impressions and travel for at least 6 miles. Or maybe as long as 18 miles. The length of the way will depend solely on the wind, its speed, and direction. This gives the ultimate uniqueness to each flight. The route can never be accurately predicted, much less repeated.
Throughout the flight, a land escort group will follow the balloon at some distance to pick it up during the landing and help everyone out. You feel like taking off skywards over the savannah yet? Let’s get ready then.
Preparing for the Flight
In fact, you won’t need anything special to take with you to the balloon basket. It is enough to choose appropriate clothing and bring binoculars to have the best possible view and to see the details. Flying at a height familiar to birds, you can see those soaring, and lionesses lying lazily on tree branches, families of elephants straying to the water, crocodiles out on the river banks and huge hippos hiding in the rivers with their backs and heads sticking out like smooth rocks.
You should dress warmer than usual, as the preparations for the flight begin in the early hours of the morning, around 5 a.m., when the savannah is still cool. You are unlikely to feel cold on the balloon, as the burner that heats the air is close by. And you won’t feel much wind at altitude, because the basket flies in the air flow, moving at the same speed.
How Safe Is Ballooning?
All flights are regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority: balloons and all equipment are constantly inspected, operating companies are licensed, pilots are also tested for flight fitness.
Tourist flights have been taking place since the late 1980s, and in 30 years all the protocols have been perfected. This way of visiting the national parks of Tanzania is popular with world-famous Hollywood actors and members of European royal families. If you want to know details about flight safety or have questions about restrictions, such as weight and age, please contact our managers and they will tell you everything.
Where the Flights Take Place?
Serengeti National Park is considered the most attractive place for a hot air balloon safari. Here, the Great Migration takes place almost all year round: huge herds of wildebeests and zebras, along with Thomson’s gazelle and Grant’s gazelle and other antelopes, migrate long distances in search of food and water. Read more about the migration patterns in different months in our article with the migration schedule.
Lions, leopards, and cheetahs hunt the stray antelopes and zebras. Sometimes wild cats fight each other for territory. Serengeti is believed to be home to the most predators. Just imagine the sighting opportunities for those who fly into places inaccessible to safari vehicles!
In order to cover all parts of the vast Serengeti plain, several launching sites are in operation. Some of them are permanent while others are seasonal, operating in the months when the animals are most abundant.
There is also the opportunity to fly in balloons in other parks and protected areas in Tanzania, such as Tarangire National Park, Grumeti and Ngorongoro Reserves. When planning a trip to Tanzania, ask Rehoboth Safaris managers as many questions as you want and tell us all your wishes, so that we can work out the best program for you and make your African adventure the most exciting experience of your life.