There are several places in the world where you can do a Helicopter ride, but there are some places where you can do a Hot Air Balloon Ride! The hot air balloon concept works better at Masai Mara because it’s a lot quieter, the balloons can fly lower and it offers the open air experience.
There are a few providers of the hot air balloon tours and they all follow very similar itinerary and pricing. I will recommend just asking the hotel you’re staying at or the tour guide you’re with to recommend on for you. The general pricing is around $450-500 per person. I bit of a whoop, but a worthwhile ride.
The tour started off at the break of dawn (~5-5:30 AM), and by the time we started floating around in the brightly colored balloons, daylight was out. It was an amazing experience to see the whole park wake-up in the morning, like the starting scene in Lion King. I actually felt an intimate connection with nature, like I was seeing the park from an insiders’ candid perspective.
The tour lasted about an hour and we experienced some truly unique sights that these pictures just do not do justice to. I was using my Cannon T3i Rebel with the lenses it came with. Retrospectively, I wish I had lens with more of a zoom capability because there were some sights that I couldn’t translate into pictures – like a family of gorillas getting ready for the day and a little fox going out on a morning run. But, those are images I’ll never forget, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters – the experience! Ok, I’ll stop getting all philosophical and move on
The balloon ride ends somewhere in the middle of the park where we stopped for about an hour to eat our breakfast. After the meal, we taken on a ‘game ride’ back to the starting point. A game ride is pretty much like a regular Masai Mara tour, where you’re in the back of a truck and you try to catch a sight of as many inhabitants if the park as possible, more on this in my upcoming posts!
Overall, I will defiantly recommend doing this tour if you don’t mind the bite it takes out of your wallet. From speaking with other people in my tour group, seemed like they felt the same way as well.