Up, Up and Away – Hot Air Ballooning in the Mara!

Have you ever dreamt of floating away in the skies? I have too, and one of my biggest dreams came true in the Mara, a hot air balloon safari over the majestic savannah with Hot Air Safaris , piloted by the humorous, knowledgeable Riz Jiwa (who comes highly recommended!).

Though the price may seem a bit high, I can promise it’s all worth it!

Richard from Hot Air Safaris met us the evening before our balloon ride, to give us the full detail of what to expect.

The next morning (15th October) we were picked up at 5.20am (for people like me who are not morning folks, that was DSCN1113hard indeed!) and were driven into the park gates and to the balloon, which had still not been inflated. We got to see the pre-dawn sky and watch the amazing team put up the balloon ready for adventure! I really liked that the company was taking great care of our safety, and would not let us get on till they were pretty confident the wind was ok, and not too crazy to fly in. When it was time to get on, rather than having us climb in, the balloon basket was tilted sideways so we crawled in feet-first. then lay lying down in a semi-fetal position! Such adventure indeed!DSCN1122

We held on tighDSCN1118t, and soon enough, it was up,up and away! Our pilot, Riz, had these two nozzle-heads that he pressed to keep the gas burning, and to take the balloon higher. Lots of ropes to turn directions (but never pull the red one unless you want to land!!!! or fall out of the sky!

The balloon ride was extremely smooth – floating horizontally or rising vertically just felt so DSCN1134ethereal! And the view below? Oh my gosh – putting it in words will never give it justice either! We watched as the majestic African sun came up – that was almost meditative!

We saw Lions, herds of wildebeeste, hartebeeste, impala, gazelles, ostrich, and even a little baby hyena!

After an hour (which seemed to go by fast!) we had a relatively smooth landing, were helped out DSCN1153of the balloon, and were whisked away to an amazing breakfast spread – champagne, sausages, eggs, pastries, cereals, fresh fruit – so extravagant! And the Kenyan tea and coffee to wake you up! Eating breakfast while surrounded by Zebras and giraffes – it doesn’t get better than this!DSCN1147

For those who needed to wash their hands, the Loo with a View was special!

DSCN1180At breakfast we all got certificates for our balloon flight. After, Riz was kind enough to drop us back to our lodge, with a game drive along the way – he took us to see a mating pair of lions eating their morning’s kill, and a baby leopard in the trees, hidden from most! We learnt alot about the social structure of hyena packs, and about giraffes! I was very entertained!

Riz also went out of his way to stop at a pharmacy to buy one of my friends medicine for her upset tummy – who does that?

All in all, such a fantastic, magical time, and I would definitely do it again!

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