Experiences We Love: Hot Air Balloon Safaris

Hot air balloon safari experiences begin in the still air at sunrise. As first light sends a promising glow across the horizon at dawn, the balloon rises above the plains. The sensation of drifting above the world in silence is second only to the breath-taking views of the plains, forests and suddenly the landscape takes on a whole new appearance as you drift silently wherever the prevailing winds may take you.

The sounds below carry upwards, a lion's roar, elephants crashing through the bush, screeching baboons looking quizzically upwards. After landing, there is a traditional champagne toast followed by breakfast cooked on the balloon burners in the middle of the rolling plains.

Its easy to understand why so many people choose to include this very special experience into their safari itinerary. Whilst a hot air balloon safari is synonymous with the open plains and big skies of East Africa, there are other regions where you can look to include a hot air balloon safari into your travel itinerary.

The Mara Triangle Conservancy | Kenya's Masai Mara

The adventure begins just before dawn. Departure is from a perfect natural launch site behind Little Governors’ Camp, and flames from the hot air balloon burners light the darkness as the crews inflate their craft. The first pink tongues of sunlight flicker across the skies as the hot air balloon fills, then rises. Suspended in a basket beneath the rainbow-coloured canopy, you’re off for a wildlife viewing adventure with an entirely different perspective.

Even if you’ve flown elsewhere, this is a unique experience. The flight lasts an hour or so, drifting wherever the air currents take you, and with ample opportunities for photography and video filming. Then your Governors Balloon Safari  finishes with a flourish. In the time honoured tradition of balloon flights the world over, you toast your return to earth with a delicious breakfast (complete with sparkling wine), cooked wherever you land.

Take to the Sky whilst staying at The Wild Eye Mara Camp

Our seasonal camp is open from the end of June through to the end of November and our packages are 6 night and 7 day long scheduled departures. The camp only accommodates 12 guests, each Land Cruiser has a maximum of 3 guests at any given time, (during these uncertain times this will give you comfort of greatly reduced cross contamination risks).

The Busanga Plains | Zambia's Kafue National Park

Namib Sky Balloon Safaris operates in Kafue's Busanga Plains from August through October every year. Offered to Shumba and Busanga Bush Camp guests for a nominal conservation fee, it is truly a safari experience not to be missed. Soaring over the vast floodplains as the sun rises, with an unforgettable bird's-eye view of the amazing wildlife below, you'll see thrilling sightings of lions and a horizon filled with lechwe and puku as hippo grunt and blow in their pools, all while you float past at eye-level with a bateleur eagle.

Whilst one could categorise hot air balloon safari flights into scenic, wildlife, space etc. so as to not have a blanket approach, the Kafue hot air balloon experience ticks every box, which is why we believe it to be the finest hot air balloon trip in the world.

Take to the Sky whilst staying at Shumba or Busanga Bush Camps

The vast mosaic of grassy seasonal floodplains extending to the horizon, mist rising at sunrise, epitomises the wild, remote Busanga Plains. Its diversity can be discovered on game drives as well as boating early in the season and of course hot air ballooning later on in the season. Both Busanga Bush Camp and Shumba Camp are located in the heart of the Busanga Plains and provide the ideal base from which to explore the region.

The Okavanago Delta | Botswana

AirVentures offers hot air balloon safari experiences over the Okavango Delta, a world heritage site located in the north western region of Botswana. The experience of a Balloon safari, in one of Africa's great wilderness destinations, epitomises the very best of game viewing, flying over a landscape flooded with water and winding channels, dotted with islands, and combined with large expanses of woodland forests.

A welcoming greeting by the pilot, followed with a safety briefing and demonstration of the boarding and landing procedures for the balloon, gets you set and ready for take-off! The flight launches just prior to sunrise and will drift across the flood plains with the cool winds of the morning. On a different adventure every morning, the pilot will expertly navigate the balloon using only the winds at various altitudes. From drifting at treetop height to a 1000ft or more, spectacular vistas of the Delta will unveil themselves as the first rays of sunlight roll across the waters of the flood plains

A wide variety of wildlife, in an equally wide variety of terrain and vegetation types, can be viewed as the balloon floats unhindered across this great African Wilderness. The diversity of the fauna and flora, and the encounters between the two, provide for some spectacular photographic opportunities, especially from the unique vantage point the balloon offers.

On landing, the balloon will be met by the recovery vehicles which have been tracking the balloon's journey. A scenic area in the bush will be selected for the traditional champagne celebration, to toast this age old adventure. A presentation by the pilot of your commemorative flight certificate concludes a memorable morning.

Take to the Sky whilst staying at Little Vumbura or Vumbura Plains Camps

Vumbura Plains and Little Vumbura Camp are situated in the extreme north of the Okavango Delta. Here, the vegetation ranges from open floodplains to dense mopane bushveld – offering spectacular game viewing and birding opportunities all year round. The permanent swamp and island habitats abound with beautiful tree-islands of every size, surrounded in turn by permanent waterways created both by the summer rains and the annual winter floodwaters of the Okavango Delta.

Sossusvlei | Namibia

Hot Air Balloon Safari adventures in Sossusvlei promises a truly unique way to experience Namibia’s brilliant vista. This soul-satisfying journey offers excellent photographic opportunities and lifelong memories.

Awaken before dawn and set out in the early morning moonlight to a designated launch site, where you can watch excitedly as the balloons are brought to life. Giant, hot bursts of flame slowly inflate the brightly coloured nylon, strung to robust baskets that rest on their side. As the sun’s first rays peek over the scarlet sand dunes, the hot air balloon drifts slowly upward, revealing the undulating landscapes of Sossusvlei.

Watch as mighty herds of oryx shrink in size below you and spot the enigmatic fairy circles, which stand out as indented circular patches devoid of vegetation, an intriguing phenomenon of the Namib Desert.

The balloon soars at varying heights and gradually rotates with the morning breeze, constantly giving you a new perspective of the desert. Many animals gaze up at the neon ball in surprise and curiosity as it passes overhead. The seasoned pilot will eventually select the perfect landing spot, just in time for a grand celebratory bubbly breakfast, where you can recap the morning’s bucket list moment as you savour a delicious morning meal.

Take to the Sky whilst staying at Little Kulala or Kulala Desert Lodge

Both of these luxurious camps are situated at the foot of the majestic Sossusvlei Dunes and is the closest lodge to Sossusvlei, accessed via a private gate exclusive to Wilderness Safaris. These camps are ideal for introducing your family to the natural wonders of Namibia, take in the sweeping scenery on nature drives and walks, while electric “fat bikes” are a fun way to explore the spectacular open plains.

Regardless of where you decide to enjoy your hot air balloon safari, we can assure you that it is worth every cent and that you wont regret adding this additional activity to your itinerary.

As to which destination is best? Well that all depends on what you're looking to experience in addition to the hot air balloon safari experience and that, is where our team of experienced travel planners can help you choose the right region to visit and craft the ideal itinerary with you.

Lets change the way you see the world and get you up in the air for your first hot air balloon safari!

Masai Mara Hot Air Balloon Safaris

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