Before the sun rises, the vehicle arrives to collect us to go on an amazing adventure, a hot air balloon safari over the African plains.
I, myself, am a little nervous, I am not too keen on heights. But the thought of missing out on a once in a lifetime experience is motivation enough to overcome my fears. I was going on a hot air balloon safari and that was that!
We take a bumpy track in the dark to the launch site. The sky is beginning to lighten, the sun is yet to make an appearance. We arrive at the launch site to a hype of activity around the hot air balloons. It is not long before we meet our pilot, Dave, originally from South Africa, he has been piloting hot air balloon safaris for over a decade.
Hot Air Balloon Launch
We climb aboard and Dave lets a woosh of air and the hot air balloon is launched. We rise slowly above the tree line and as we climb we see a herd of wildebeest in the distance. I am not sure how much control Dave has but we begin to float toward the herd. As we come closer we realise just how many there are – hundreds of wildebeest many with newborns.
We glide over Acacia trees, over herds of elephant slowly meandering their way across the plains, over zebra, topi, giraffe, warthog and eland – totally unaware of our presence and simply going about their business.
We spot 2 cheetahs taking cover in high sunburnt golden grass as a group of gazelle graze a few hundred metres away. Totally unaware of the imminent danger. The cheetahs move gracefully through the long grass taking up striking position. All of sudden my fear of heights is totally forgotten as the adrenalin pumps through my veins.
The hot air balloon provides us amazing cover, silently drifting overhead we literally have a bird’s eye view of the wild African plains below as these 2 cheetah brothers (according to Dave) hunt for a tasty breakfast of gazelle. They strike and at lightening speed they pursue a gazelle, she runs for her life, darting left then right and left again, the cheetahs follow closely but the sharp movements make them unstable and one falls hard, rolling on the ground. A few seconds later the other cheetah strikes at the gazelle, narrowly missing, at the same time loses balance and crashes to the ground. The gazelle sprints off.
We continue, nearing the end of our incredible hot air ballooning safari, we float over a pride of lions enjoying the warmth radiating off the early morning sun, a grande way to finish. We float for 10 minutes or so more until Dave gently brings down the hot air balloon in a clearing with a single Acacia tree.
The Grande Finale to our hot air ballooning
We are surprised to see a dining table perfectly laid out, waiters with white gloves ready to serve us, and several chefs calmly preparing a feast. We disembark and make our way to the dining table pitched perfectly under the shade of the Acacia tree. We are offered orange juice and sparkling white wine to enjoy while the waiters serve an incredible feast of traditional full English breakfast, with home made muffins and breads with a stunning fresh fruit platter.
We chat about our incredible morning on safari in a hot air balloon. I am particularly pleased I overcame my fear of heights to experience a safari like this.
Still smiling from ear to ear we finish our breakfast and board our vehicles for the drive back to our respective accommodation.
Africa Expedition Support are offering you the chance to win a Hot Air Balloon Safari for 2 people valued at USD$1000 when you book a guided self drive safari or expedition for travel in 2017. The location of the Hot Air Balloon safari will be in either the Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya or the Serengeti NP in Tanzania. This offer is valid for bookings taken before 31 December 2016 for travel in 2017. To choose the ideal guided self drive safari or expedition click here . For more information contact Debs