A hot air balloon ride in Masai Mara is a spectacular way to explore the wilderness of The Masai Mara from a breathtaking aerial view. This is a unique and thrilling way to experience the wildlife and landscapes of one of the most famous safari destinations in Africa. Here is everything you need to know about hot air balloon safaris in Masai Mara.
The Masai Mara National Reserve is a large protected area in southwestern Kenya, bordering Tanzania. It covers an area of about 1,510 square kilometers and is part of the greater Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. The reserve is named after the Maasai people, the indigenous pastoralists who live in the area and coexist with the wildlife. The Masai Mara is renowned for its diverse and abundant wildlife, especially the annual wildebeest migration, which is one of the greatest natural spectacles on Earth. The reserve also hosts the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino), as well as cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, hyenas, hippos, crocodiles, and over 500 bird species.
Hot Air Balloon Safaris
A hot air balloon safari is a special way to explore the Masai Mara from above. You will fly in a large basket attached to a colorful balloon that is filled with hot air from a burner. The balloon is controlled by an experienced pilot who can adjust the altitude and direction of the flight by using the wind currents. A hot air balloon safari gives you a bird’s eye view of the reserve and allows you to see the wildlife and landscapes from a different perspective. You will also enjoy the silence and tranquility of the flight, as well as the sunrise over the horizon.
Balloon Safari Experience
A hot air balloon safari in Masai Mara usually starts early in the morning, before dawn. You will be picked up from your lodge or camp and driven to the launch site, where you will meet your pilot and crew. You will then watch as the balloon is inflated and prepared for take-off. Once everything is ready, you will climb into the basket and receive a safety briefing from your pilot. The flight will last for about an hour, depending on the wind conditions and landing site. During the flight, you will soar over various parts of the reserve and enjoy the breathtaking views from above. Your pilot will also point out interesting features and animals that you may spot along the way. After landing, you will be treated to a champagne bush breakfast in the wilderness, where you can toast to your amazing adventure. You will then be driven back to your lodge or camp, with a brief game drive en route.
Cost and Booking Information
The cost of a hot air balloon safari in Masai Mara varies depending on the season, the provider, and the package you choose. Generally, the Masai Mara balloon safari price varies with adults and children, while the ride costs up to $ 430 for an adult, it will cost you $300 per person for a child under the age 12 years, which includes the flight, the champagne bush breakfast, the game drive back to your lodge or camp, and a flight certificate. Some providers also offer additional services, such as transfers from Nairobi, accommodation, park fees, or photography. You can book your hot air balloon safari online, through your travel agent, or directly with the provider. It is advisable to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure your spot and avoid disappointment. To get a good deal for a quote for this adventure, contact our experts at Masai Mara Holidays in advance
Safety is paramount during a hot air balloon safari in Masai Mara. You should follow these measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable flight:
- Choose a reputable operator: There are several operators that offer hot air balloon safaris in Masai Mara, but not all of them have the same standards of quality and safety. You should choose an operator that has a good reputation, experience, certification, insurance, and equipment. Some of the operators that we recommend are Governors’ Balloon Safaris, Serena Balloon Safaris, Skyship Balloon Safaris, Transworld Balloon Safaris, and Balloon Safaris Ltd.
- Wear warm clothing, as it can be chilly in the morning. You can layer up and remove some clothes as it gets warmer.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as you may land on uneven or rocky terrain.
- Bring a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and insect repellent to protect yourself from the sun and bugs.
- Bring a camera and binoculars to capture the amazing views and wildlife sightings.
- Do not touch or lean on the balloon envelope or ropes, as they can get hot from the burner.
- Listen to your pilot and crew at all times, and follow their instructions for landing and disembarking.
- Enjoy every moment of this unique and memorable experience!
One of the main attractions of a hot air balloon safari in Masai Mara is the opportunity to see the incredible wildlife from above. Depending on the season and location of your flight, you may witness some of the following scenes
- The wildebeest migration: This is the annual movement of millions of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in search of fresh grass and water. The migration usually reaches Masai Mara between July and October, when the animals cross the Mara River in large herds, facing crocodiles and predators along the way. From a hot air balloon, you can see the scale and drama of this phenomenon like nowhere else.
- The Big Five: These are the five most iconic and sought-after animals in Africa: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino. Masai Mara is one of the best places to see them all, as they roam freely in their natural habitat. From a hot air balloon, you can appreciate their size and beauty, as well as their behavior and interactions with other various animal species the Masai Mara offers.
- Various bird species: Masai Mara is home to over 500 bird species, ranging from large raptors and vultures to colorful bee-eaters and sunbirds. Some of the birds that you may see from a hot air balloon include the martial eagle, the secretary bird, the crowned crane, the lilac-breasted roller, the superb starling, and the ostrich.
Another attraction of a hot air balloon safari in Masai Mara is the chance to see the stunning landscapes and natural features of the reserve. Some of the sights that you may see from above include:
- The vast savannah plains: These are the dominant landscape of Masai Mara, where most of the wildlife can be found. The plains are covered with grasses of different heights and colors, depending on the season and rainfall. They also have scattered trees and bushes that provide shade and shelter for some animals. From a hot air balloon, you can see the contrast and diversity of the plains, as well as the patterns and shapes created by the animals and their trails.
- The winding rivers: These are the lifelines of Masai Mara, providing water and food for the wildlife and the people. The main river is the Mara River, which flows from Tanzania to Kenya and forms the border between the reserve and the Serengeti National Park. The river is famous for its crocodiles and hippos, as well as for being the scene of the wildebeest crossing during the migration. Other rivers in Masai Mara include the Talek River, the Sand River, and the Olare Orok River. From a hot air balloon, you can see how the rivers carve their way through the landscape, creating curves and bends that attract animals and birds.
- The acacia forests: These are patches of woodland that grow along some of the rivers and hills in Masai Mara. The most common tree is the acacia, which has thorny branches and umbrella-shaped crowns. The acacia forests provide food and habitat for many animals, especially elephants, giraffes, monkeys, baboons, leopards, and birds. From a hot air balloon, you can see how the forests add greenery and texture to the landscape, as well as how they contrast with the plains.
- The rolling hills: These are elevated areas that rise above the plains in Masai Mara. Some of the hills have names such as Rhino Ridge, Kileleoni Hill, Oloololo Escarpment, and Siria Escarpment. The hills offer panoramic views of the reserve and beyond, as well as different vegetation and wildlife. From a hot air balloon, you can see how the hills create a sense of depth and dimension to the landscape, as well as how they reflect different shades of light.
Timing and Seasonality
The best time to embark on a hot air balloon safari in Masai Mara is during the early morning hours, when the winds are calm and the air is cool. You will be picked up from your lodge or camp before dawn, and driven to the launch site, where you will witness the balloon being inflated and prepared for take-off. The flight lasts for about an hour, depending on the wind direction and speed. You will enjoy a breathtaking sunrise over the savannah, and see the wildlife waking up and starting their daily activities. You will also have a chance to see the famous wildebeest migration, if you visit between July and October, when millions of animals cross the Mara River in search of greener pastures.