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Balloon flight over the Mara

Balloon flight over the Mara

Overview: Balloon flight over the Mara

The Maasai Mara balloon flight experience starts well before dawn. Depending on the location of your safari camp, a driver and vehicle will collect you as early as 4am and drive you through the bush to the balloon launch site. This pitch-dark start is itself an adventure, as the headlights pick out nocturnal wildlife en route. At the site, you’ll watch as the enormous, multi-coloured fabric envelope of the balloon is slowly filled by gigantic, portable fans. You’ll receive a safety briefing by the pilot and be given advice about the kind of flight you can expect (every one is unique) and what you might see from the basket.

At about 06:30, as the balloon towers overhead, but with the basket still safely tethered to the ground, you climb aboard. The basket is divided into compartments, each equipped with harnesses and hand holds. You’ll need to be reasonably mobile – but not a gymnast. As soon as all the passengers are on board (and usually after some pictures have been taken by others on the ground), the pilot starts the burner, the lines are released, and you lift off. The sun will be just about to break above the horizon, sending beams of golden light across the landscape.

If the atmosphere is cool, the balloon rises very quickly and you’re at treetop height in seconds, drifting in a generally south-easterly direction with the prevailing wind.

From now on, where you go and what you see depends on a combination of the pilot's skill, the speed and direction of the wind and that permanent safari companion, luck. You may fly at treetop height along the forested banks of the Mara River, peering into vultures’ nests, watching monkeys and baboons as they wake in their roosts, or peering through the trees to see elephants or even potentially a leopard. Or you may fly low across the grasslands, with the pilot using a puff of the burner every so often to lift the balloon above a lone tree or a termite mound. Periodically, the pilot will turn the balloon so that those at the back of the basket are facing forwards.

Wildlife tends to move away at the approach of the balloon’s shadow and the sound of its burner, but you will still see some remarkable sights, from jostling, muddied hippos, to prides of lions and even the occasional rhino, as witnessed by a lucky Expert Africa consultant on a recent flight.

After an hour or so in the air, the pilot lands the basket in a convenient spot close to where the ground crew have prepared a site for the bush breakfast.

A full breakfast is served and you toast the flight with sparkling wine. Everyone gets a certificate and the chance to take photos, before loading into safari vehicles to go back to camp or continue with a morning game drive.

Height and age restrictions: The basket height is 1.2m (4ft). Children need to be at least 1.2m in height and can then fly at the pilot’s discretion, depending on their age and maturity.

Availability: Balloon flights are available every morning, subject to suitable weather conditions. If the flight is cancelled because of poor weather, you will be re-booked on a later flight or your money refunded.

Please note: Expert Africa only books excursions as a part of a full, Expert Africa itinerary.

Start location
Pre-dawn from your safari camp in the Maasai Mara
End location
Back at your safari camp
Meals included
Full bush breakfast with sparkling wine
Duration
3 hours in total - morning only
Maximum group size
Usually 16

Ballooning over the Maasai Mara: Picture Gallery

What to look forward to.


1 of 13
There are often several balloons in the air.
2 of 13
The experience starts with the pre-launch inflation…
3 of 13
…which is a spectacle in itself.
4 of 13
Once the balloon is aloft, it drifts south…
5 of 13
…sometimes flying close to the Mara River…
6 of 13
…and sometimes above the plains.
7 of 13
At other times, you'll fly close the ground…
8 of 13
…and sometimes close enough for wildlife photography.
9 of 13
Landings vary, and tipping sideways is quite normal.
10 of 13
As is being helped out by the pilot and fellow passengers.
11 of 13
This is the moment for selfies…
12 of 13
…and a big bush breakfast…
13 of 13
…accompanied by sparkling wine.

There are often several balloons in the air.

The experience starts with the pre-launch inflation…

…which is a spectacle in itself.

Once the balloon is aloft, it drifts south…

…sometimes flying close to the Mara River…

…and sometimes above the plains.

At other times, you'll fly close the ground…

…and sometimes close enough for wildlife photography.

Landings vary, and tipping sideways is quite normal.

As is being helped out by the pilot and fellow passengers.

This is the moment for selfies…

…and a big bush breakfast…

…accompanied by sparkling wine.

Balloon flight over the Mara reviews

36 independent first-hand comments from our travellers.


90%
8 reviews since August 2007
Excellent
5
Good
2
Average
1
Poor
0
Terrible
0
MuzfromColchester

19 Feb 2020

"wonderful"

"Great experience - the pilot...was great - very knowledgeable and entertaining …" Read Muz’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Overall rating: Average

Mr I.fromStrafford

30 Aug 2019

"Amazing experience.Great views safe landing"

"Memorable experience. Very competent pilot, excellent views...all we hoped for. …" Read Mr I.’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr & Mrs LfromHerts

24 Sep 2018

"Balloon flight over the Maasi Mara"

"Our first balloon flight and what a wonderful experience. …" Read Mr & Mrs L’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Ms KfromChester Springs

28 Aug 2018

"Fun Morning"

Overall rating: Excellent

Mr & Mrs PfromWiltshire

27 Sep 2017

"A once in a lifetime experience."

"A once in a lifetime experience. …" Read Mr & Mrs P’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Good

Ms BfromGrapevine

2 Feb 2017

"Balloon flight a must experience"

"Balloon flight a must experience …" Read Ms B’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Excellent

Family of 4fromNew York

22 Aug 2016

"Once in a lifetime experience"

"Once in a lifetime experience …" Read Family of 4’s full holiday review

Overall rating: Good

See all Balloon flight over the Mara reviews

Ideas for holidays which can include Balloon flight over the Mara

Add this experience to these trip ideas or contact us to start planning your own tailor-made safari to Kenya.


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