From my experience, when it comes to viewing wildlife from the air, not much beats a ride in a hot air balloon. Putting helicopters and bi-planes aside, hot air balloons offer a peaceful experience of game viewing – combine this with an African sunrise and you’re in for the trip of a lifetime!
My hot air balloon flight took place in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. After several occasions of seeing clients head out from camp at 5am for this activity, it was finally my turn to take to the skies!
After a 4:30am start, a rather muddy drive to the take-off site, and a warm cup of tea, we were instructed to hop into the basket for the launch. With the flame on full burn, the driver began to raise the basket until the rope attaching the balloon to the ground went tight. After we had waved goodbye to the team on the ground, the balloon was finally released and the flight began!
Picture this – slowly rising to tree level to the height of the birds and the monkeys. After a near miss with a branch, the basket clears the treeline and the Mara River comes into view. Leaving the grunting hippos behind, it’s not long before we see thickets opening up to vast plains and the sunrise rapidly illuminating the scars in the vegetation below. For me, this is the best place in Africa to experience game viewing from the air.