An overview of Kenya
Kenya is a land that offers an intrepid traveler the best that Africa has to offer. From the beautiful vistas to abundant wildlife, Kenya is a land remarkable for its legendary intriguing cultures. With spectacular beauty, Kenya is endowed with pristine coastlines, tropical beaches not to mention undulating grasslands, which all come together to curate a visitor’s holiday experience.
Often regarded to be the ultimate safari destination, Kenya undoubtedly incorporates some of Africa’s most rewarding national parks and wildlife reserves. With plenty to see but only limited by the human eye, Kenya is no less an iconic travel destination with East Africa’s most impressive and one of Africa’s finest big five destinations. In my opinion, Kenya is a land of fascinating beauty where a great deal of it can be explored in the comfort of a hot air balloon trip not to mention the best in East Africa.
Where to have a hot air balloon in Kenya
Masai Mara game reserve is the best Kenya safari destination and most popular for hot air balloon adventures in Kenya. The game reserve is one of Africa’s greatest wild viewing areas as well as a jewel to the land of Kenya. With nearly 600 square miles, Masai Mara National Reserve is remarkable for its year-round density of big game, African big five, and so much more. Situated in the southwest of Kenya along the Tanzanian border, Masai Mara together with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania make up one giant area spanning two countries that are revered as Africa’s most spectacular and diverse ecosystem.
Famed as an all year- round incredible game viewing destination in Kenya, Masai Mara’s grassy plains and Mara river have become a stage for the greatest wildlife spectacles on the planet during the ‘great migration’. Apart from the great migration which is the most thought after sighting and game drive, no Masai Mara trip is truly complete without taking a hot air balloon safari. Experience the combination of thrill and serenity of the Mara region Kenya’s leading hot air balloon destination and one of the best in Africa.
The hot air balloon experience in Kenya
Depending on the weather conditions, hot air balloon safaris begin at 6:00 am where visitors arrive at the launch site. Here visitors will watch the balloons being prepared for take-off. A safety briefing will be conducted by the guide to explaining what is expected of each passenger during the flight. At 6:30 am, the balloon crew will assist you to clamber into the balloon for take-off. As the balloon rises above the ground, the beauty of Masai Mara plains unfolds before your eyes to a feast of the golden sunrise.
Enjoy the reserve’s enchanting sceneries alongside the plains-game below as the winds gently blow the basket into the deeper treasures of the reserve. Observe the wildlife below with plenty of photographic opportunities unfolding for an hour’s lifetime experience. Upon landing, visitors toast a glass of champagne to celebrate a successful balloon flight as is the custom in Masai Mara. Similarly, visitors may watch the complete deflation of the balloon as they wait to enjoy a bush breakfast right in the midst of the wilderness. Alternatively, guests may enjoy a morning game drive at the game reserve while they head back to their lodges for a morning breakfast.
Duration of the hot air balloon safari in Kenya
Depending on the wind conditions, a hot air balloon trip in Kenya is approximately a sixty minutes experience where visitors soar silently with 360 degrees of amazing savannah.
Cost of a hot air balloon trip in Kenya
A hot air balloon trip in Kenya currently costs about 410- 500 USD per adult passenger. Children between the age of seven and twelve are charged a cost of 310 USD. However, it is important to remember that this cost is dependent on which camp or lodge a visitor will fly from in the Mara.
Expected number of passengers per flight
The number of people allowed to take a flight in a hot air balloon depends on the capacity of the basket. The size of baskets ranges from a capacity of 16 – 12 passengers, then 8 passengers, and these are commonly recommended for group travelers. There are also baskets which hold the capacity of 4 passengers and these are ideal for couples, honeymooners and special occasions. However, the maximum number of passengers per flight in Kenya is 16 pax.
Is there a minimum age required to go for hot air ballooning in Kenya?
Hot air ballooning is not recommended for children under the age of seven as well as though under the height of the basket. For mature travelers, there are no age restrictions since they are considered reasonably fit and ready to enjoy the adventure of soaring across the majestic plains.
Persons restricted from flying in the hot air balloons in Kenya
For the traveler’s own safety, hot air ballooning is not suitable for pregnant ladies, visitors with health conditions; heart matters, brittle bones, neck or back conditions, visual impairment, and many others. This is so because most balloon flights require a certain amount of physical strength to climb in and out the basket and other risks that may occur during the flight which may threaten their lives. Alternatively, visitors with impaired mobility are free to fly in the hot air balloon upon prior notice for effective accommodation.
What to look out for on a hot air balloon trip in Kenya
Experience the unparalleled Masai Mara game reserve with free-ranging wildlife where none can guarantee what you will fly over or what you will see during a particular flight. As a wilderness area contiguous with Serengeti National park in Tanzania, visitors may typically view a good diversity of animals. You will likely spot the enormous elephants, graceful giraffes, the solitary leopards in trees, various antelope species, and the stunning beauty of ostriches among others.
Enjoy the magical golden sunrise of the Masai Mara from the sky as well as a different perspective of the landscape. Unlike during game drives where most of the time is spent on grassy plains, while in the hot air balloon the landscape takes on a new life. Look out for the Mara river and observe how it snakes through the Great Rift Valley and its tributaries trisect the landscape.
Look out for hyenas, lions, cheetahs, not to mention the elusive black rhino of which they are less than 40 in the Mara region. Don’t miss the amazing sightings of predators on the hunt as well as active hyena dens. As you drift along the Mara River, keep your eye out for the giant hippos, crocodiles as they move freely in the waters or even the wildebeest during the famous ‘great migration’ the reserve’s unforgettable wildlife spectacle between July and October.
Look out for the majority of the large animals on land and get amazed at how they seemingly disappear from up above the ground. It is an amazing wildlife up-close experience.
What should I bring with me?
There are a number of essential items that each visitor ought to have in preparation for the hot air balloon adventure in Kenya. These include;
- Binoculars to ease vision during the flight
- Camera to capture those once in a lifetime moments.
- Clothing especially warm jacket, trousers, long-sleeved- shirts, among others to keep you warm on the chilly morning breeze or cool evening which can uncomfortable.
Why a hot air balloon trip in Kenya should be on your bucket list?
There are some things that just have to be done once in a lifetime and hot air ballooning in Kenya is one of them. Nothing is more spectacular than launching at sunrise and floating effortlessly in a hot air balloon in Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve. This northern part of the spectacular Serengeti-Mara ecosystem doubles as the home of the ‘great migration’ as well as scores of other wildlife including; lions, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, hippos and crocodiles. What a better way to explore the Masai Mara than to take a hot air balloon safari.
Gliding silently over the savannah is an all-round adventure of incredible beauty. Every dawn is an entirely new adventure, different from any other. The landscape is stunning and free, adorned with abundant wildlife which makes thrilling viewings form above. Therefore, hot air ballooning in Kenya rewards visitors with a bird’s eye view of the best that East Africa has to offer in the magnificent setting of the rift valley.
Hot air balloon trip is an awesome way to observe the phenomenal ‘great migration’ of over a million wildebeest, along with large numbers of zebras and gazelles. It is the ideal way to grasp the magnitude of the migrating herds hence an experience not to be missed. It is because of thrilling sightings that make the hot air balloon trip in Kenya a highlight of an East African wild game safari.
The sensation of drifting above the world to where the current takes you is breathtaking. The sounds below carry upwards especially the distant roar of the lion, elephants crashing through the bush or fighting over a feeding ground, screeching baboons which look quizzically upwards and so much more will light up your East African wildlife safari. There is little that can match this aesthetic appeal of soaring above natures wonders with the first sun rays igniting the sky.
Best time to enjoy a hot air balloon trip in Kenya
Hot air balloon trips in Kenya can be enjoyed daily throughout the year depending on the weather conditions. Visitors to Kenya are given the opportunity to choose between the morning flight where they will view the sunrise glow in the distant horizon and evening flight where they will view the beautiful sunset across the Mara vistas. However, for the longest time, the morning flight has been ranked the best since it allows guests to feel the excitement of the wildlife coming to life under the African sky.
Hot Air Balloon in Kenya & Gorilla Trek in Rwanda
Hot Air Balloon trip in Kenya, combined with a gorilla safari in Rwanda rewards you with a lifetime adventure experience in East Africa. To most travellers, an African safari is incomplete without visiting the mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Uganda or DR Congo. Gorilla trekking ranks as the best adventure activities in East Africa. In Rwanda, gorilla trekking takes places in Volcanoes National Park, located 2 hours from Kigali International Airport. A combination of these 2 adventures is made possible due to the availability of flights connecting the 2 countries. One can easily fly from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi to Kigali International Airport in Rwanda for less than 60 minutes. Kenya Airways, Rwanda Air, Ethiopian, South African Airways, and many others operate along this route.
In conclusion, a hot air balloon trip in Kenya combined with gorilla trekking in Rwanda is a life-changing experience that every traveler to the Eastern region of Africa should try. Please note, one must possess a gorilla permit that gives one permission to join the trek in search of the mountain gorillas. Each gorilla permit costs US$1500, can be booked through your travel agent in Kigali.