Up and away – a safari that will take words away…

Much like many a fellow traveller, I have a list of things I want to experience before the end of my days. When I was offered the chance to move to Tanzania my bucket list bells went ballistic – so many adventures to be experienced.  Moments such as sitting on top of Mt Kilimanjaro, sipping cocktails on idyllic beaches in Zanzibar and seeing the pure majesty of the big migration up close, are memories I will treasure for life.

However, one specific experience has eluded me…until recently. On our safari in March through the Northern Circuit of Tanzania we managed to procure some places on a hot air balloon trip! We will travel over the vast plains of the Serengeti as the sun rises behind us. Needless to say my excitement could not be measured in any way or form. The night before departure I barely slept, which in hindsight might have been a mistake from my side…

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At 05:30 sharp we saw the headlights a Serengeti Balloon Safaris’ vehicle enter our campsite. As we approached the vehicle we were met by the operations manager, Organis, his massive smile visible even in the early morning darkness. It was like a trigger that started up my adrenaline rush once more.
Thirty minutes later we were ushered into a clearing where our balloon’s colossal canvas was lying on the ground. The inflation of the canvas is done with industrial size fans and also the main hot air thrusters – there the captain use to steer the gargantuan vessel. As the balloon started to take shape, we took our seats in the basket – time for the magic to happen.

We lifted off the ground in unison with the rising sun. The higher we ascended the more light reached the endless plains and with it, animals awoke for a new day. The experienced Captain Jones took us in different directions and over different types of vegetation during our 1 hour flight. The scenes that were playing out before us were like images you only see on television. It was like one huge photo-shopped banner.

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After what seemed like a few minutes, it was time to land. We took our bracing positions and awaited the completion of our descent back to Mother Earth. Once we exited the balloon we were treated to a glass of champagne in the middle of the bush. Captain Jones explained the history of balloon aviation in great fare and detail. He concluded by asking us all to board the waiting safari vehicles. Driving into the bush we came upon a surprise. In a hidden clearing, in the bush, a delicious breakfast spread was prepared for us.

The thought of having a spectacular meal with fellow travellers in the middle of the Serengeti with wild animals roving around was not something I expected. But sitting there after seeing the pure majesty of Africa from above and hearing the laughing of happy people combined with the trumpeting of elephants in the background was something that left me completely and utterly speechless…