BALLOON SAFARIS IN MASAI MARA NATIONAL RESERVE.
When I started planning and began telling people about my safari to Kenya’s best reserve Masai Mara Wildlife Reserve. “Of course you’ll include a hot air balloon ride,” they always said.
That makes you aware of how fantastic hot air balloon safari experience is in order to maximize wildlife viewing. You will appreciate that 4×4 safari game drives are great but are limited. With a hot air balloon ride, you’re flying closely above areas that are difficult to reach by vehicle. For instance, above river Mara and bush thickets. Hence, more chances to spot wildlife and get aerial views of the beautiful natural plains.
Masai Mara national Reserve is located in southwest of Kenya along the border with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. The two parks actually join together to form the larger Serengeti ecosystem. The diversity of the Serengeti ecosystem also extends in Masai Mara and therefore best appreciated there.
The reserve covers about 1,510 km2 an area that includes rolling savannah grasslands with river Mara meandering through creating riverine forests and thickets. These provide habitat to over 95 mammals and over 500 bird species, Masai Mara Reserve is one of the best wildlife viewing destinations in Africa. The reserve is most famous for wildebeest migration and big cats. This migration features about 1.5 million wildebeests which move in search of green pastures across the Serengeti – Mara ecosystem along with hundreds of thousands of zebras and antelopes such as Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelles, impalas and elands.
Coming to Masai Mara from Serengeti National Park, the great migration arrives between June and September. So, this is the best time to visit Masai Mara particularly the month of August to witness one of the miraculous sights of Mara – the herds crossing the crocodile infested Mara River. The animals must cross the river, yet, never mind of the crocodiles, they maneuver through the waters, a few die but many survive.
What to expect on your Masai Mara hot air balloon safari?
First of all, you need to get advice from your operator on where to stay in Mara for a hot air balloon safari.
Normally starting before sunrise, it’s very important to know what will be the distance from your lodge to the balloon launch site. This will help you to prepare for early morning wake up calls so you’re not surprised if you have to get out of bed at 5 o’clock in the morning.
There are five zones of Mara both the conservancy and the main reserve. These are east west, north and south Mara and each has accommodation.
So, you will transfer from your lodge to the launch site on time. Bring your binoculars and camera. While taking a hot cup of African tea/coffee, you witness how the balloon is inflated.
A briefing is conducted as you get to know the procedures. For instance, a hot air balloon can accommodate 16 people including your guide and professional pilots who navigate it with the help of winds.
Take-off occurs before sunrise and the balloon ride will take about 1 hour in the air before landing. Depending on the wind speed and direction, your pilot will ensure you fly at different heights from a height of tree tops to 1000 feet above the ground.
Pilots do their best to fly low so that you can have sightings of wildlife. From above, the 360 degrees’ views of the Mara plains is the most stunning. Though, the day may be cloudy, the play of morning sunrise, will be satisfying.
Suddenly you get to spot mammals such as Masai giraffes, elephants, lions even smaller mammals like hyenas, the ones you thought couldn’t be seen. The pilot takes the balloon over vantage points such as above Mara river and bush thickets.
Upon landing at a pre-selected area, guests are treated like kings and queens with a champagne and breakfast in the plains. You will also be congratulated and awarded a Masai Mara hot air balloon certificate of completion.
The balloon ride will be over, but the game viewing continues for the rest of the day. Your guide will be ready to take you on a game drive it will be still mid-morning as you transfer back to your lodge.
Hot air balloon safari providers in Masai Mara National Reserve.
Africa Mecca Safaris
Hot Air Safari Balloon Safari ltd.