Maddison flies over the Masai Mara!
IT’S 5AM at the Sarova Mara Game Camp. We meet in the lobby to walk down to our safari vehicles, together and escorted by a guard because it is still dark. Everyone is cold and sleepy from the early wake-up call, yet excited for what is to come. We drive about 15-20 mins before arriving at our designated take-off area. We all hop out of the vehicles and see shiny multi-coloured fabric spread along the ground. The sun’s rays slowly lighten the eastern horizon and the balloon is loudly inflated by the crew, rising to become a glowing jewel.
It is now time for us to hop in. We are asked one at a time to slide into the basket, while it is on its side. We all squish in together and are told to hold on to the handles inside while the basket is slowly lifted.
We stay seated in the basket while the balloon takes off. This takes just a few minutes. Soon enough we the basket is in the air and we are allowed to stand. The view is breathtaking! Nothing but plains surround us: they stretch as far as the eye can see. Our pilot guides the balloon over herds of zebra and wildebeest. They begin to run as the balloon glides lower. There are so many that I don’t have time to count as we pass overhead. As we continue our journey, we spot warthog and giraffe by the Mara River. The sky is a beautiful streakiness of pinks and oranges as the sun itself peeks over the horizon.
We all take time to photograph what we see, but the images we view later just don’t do it justice. Too soon, it is time to begin our descent. We are told to sit and hold on again while the balloon lands. Once it lands, a solid but not scary bump-and-grind along the dirt, we slide out and are greeted by friendly staff holding out flutes of champagne, presenting us with a gourmet breakfast in the middle of the bush.
As we tuck into the selection of pastries, meats and cheeses, a herd of zebra surround us! We mute our voices, and they stand watching us, chewing their grass, waiting, it seems, for some throwaway morsels… It is the perfect ending to an unforgettable morning! It was an exhilarating experience I will cherish forever!
If you’ve been on a hot-air balloon in Africa, we’d love you to share your experience! Where were you? And what was your favourite moment?
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