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A Serengeti balloon safari is the ultimate way to experience the vastness of the national park.

Just imagine floating above the Serengeti plains skimming treetops in complete silence whilst seeing wildlife on the ground below. This is an essential safari experience for travellers to Serengeti National Park.

The ultimate African safari experience in Tarangire is a hot air balloon flight. Gliding across the Tarangire on your Safari eyes tours as the sunrise stains the plains pink, you are part of the natural world, drifted by the prevailing winds so that no two flights are alike. You may rise high enough to see golden grasslands dotted with giant baobab trees; silver ribbons of the Tarangire River and its tributaries where game congregate in their hundreds in the early morning; herds of elephants, their suede grey skins offsetting white scimitar tusks as they look up at you from the shelter of scrubby acacia woodlands, and in the distance, the blue outline of the African Rift Valley Escarpment.

Serengeti balloon safaris

Balloon flights are run daily at 06h00 from four launch sites within Serengeti National Park: one throughout the year close to Seronera, and others in the Ndutu area (from 25 December to 15 March), in the Western Corridor (from June to October), and in northern Serengeti (from July to October).

The experience

Although not cheap, a balloon safaris is worth the expense. Floating serenely over the treetops as the sun peaks over the horizon permits you to experience the endless Serengeti plains from an unforgettable perspective. As we set departure very early morning, you may even spot some nocturnal predators getting ready for the day.

During most flights the pilot will include sections flown at a higher altitude allowing you to soak up uninterrupted views of the Serengeti; other sections may involve low-level flying, during which there may be the opportunity to see wildlife. Highly experienced pilots can follow rivers and streams, and will glide just meters above grunting hippos or wandering giraffes. Flying low allows you to take some great aerial wildlife photos. You move over the plains wherever the wind takes you, whilst being tracked from the ground by balloon crew in their vehicles.

Hot air ballooning & the Great Migration

The best odds for seeing the Great Migration with its innumerable wildebeest and zebra would be to book a flight in the Ndutu area as large herds congregate here between December and March. The other locations may also allow you to see the Great Migration from above, but please remember the herd is mobile and may only be in a particular area for a brief period, if not just a couple of days. This means that some luck needs to be on your side.

Serengeti hot air balloon flight price

A Serengeti balloon flight costs US$ 599 per person (this includes the Tanapa ballooning fee of US$ 40). This rate includes a transfer from your lodge or camp to the departure balloon site, the balloon flight itself, and a champagne breakfast (after landing). The flight will last anything in between 50 and 70 minutes. Depending on the landing site, also the breakfast site is set up at a different location daily. You will share the balloon with up to 16 passengers in total.

Planning a balloon safari

Be prepared for a very early start the transfer from the Seronera area leaves at 05h30 and from the other lodges in the area at around 04h00. Please remember to bring some warm clothing, and a bag in which you can secure camera, binoculars, and other personal items. We can arrange departures for a Serengeti balloon safari from most lodges and camps in the Serengeti. We strongly recommend booking a balloon safari in advance, as it concerns a very popular activity and gets booked out early (especially during peak season).

What happens if the weather is poor?

Ballooning is subject to suitable weather. If your flight is cancelled because of poor weather, you will be re-booked on a later flight If possible, otherwise your money will be refunded.

Why is a balloon safari so expensive?

Balloon flights are expensive to operate, especially in remote areas such as Serengeti National Park. Balloons -naturally- need to be in top condition, so they need to be replaced after about 850 flight hours. One balloon costs more than US$ 100,000. One also needs to consider the cost of fuel and crew to operate the balloon flight. Each crew comprises six people plus a licensed pilot. A further ten people (per balloon) operate behind the scenes to get the balloon airborne. So this adds up to a considerable amount of people. Additionally, there are the recovery vehicles, transfer vehicles, and backup operations. Last, a substantial part of the total price is allocated to conservation fees.

Tarangire balloon safaris

Your Tarangire balloon tour begins at 0400 hours with warm beverages before driving to the launch site. Burners roar and awesome flames belch into the maw of a huge, multicolored Cameroon balloon (A415 series) which brawls to rise as it fills, dwarfing the basket still tethered on the ground. 16 intrepid passengers clamber into eight wicker cells, wearing light fleeces and longs to ward off a chilled early morning breeze. Children must be over seven years old, adults less than 120 kilos and physically fit.

At 0600 hours, the ground crew releases the basket which hangs below the billowing canopy. It is rapidly lifted high above the ground. For the next hour, your skilled and licensed pilot will make optimal use of prevailing winds. A chase vehicle follows discreetly, ready to assist Safari eyes tours aeronauts safely back to earth and set up a celebration champagne bush breakfast. Eggs, potatoes, waffles or pancakes and bacon, cooked on the balloon’s burners, satisfy hearty appetites. Happy adventurers receive their flight certificates before a game drive back gives a new perspective on wonders they saw from overhead.

 

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