Balloon Ride Excursion Over Serengeti...

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Dec 14th, 2003, 10:48 AM
  #1
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Balloon Ride Excursion Over Serengeti...

Who here has been on a hot air balloon excursion over the Serengeti???

The price at about $395 USD per person seems pretty steep, especially considering that a balloon can hold about 10 people and at least three other couples whom are paying the same price may be joining in on the excursion.

Is this excursion not to be missed? How far above the ground are you and is it possible to lower the balloon when large groups of animals are spotted or is the elevation constant throughout???

Lastly, how long did the excursion last and did you still have time or energy to do a game drive on that particular day.

Thanks.
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Dec 14th, 2003, 02:12 PM
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Your question has been asked before and I've weighed in on it before, but here is my opinion again. I am sitting in my office with a framed certificate to show that I flew over the Serengeti National Park in a hot air balloon called "Kiboko." The most exciting thing that happened was when we passengers stepped out of the Land Rover at about 5 a.m. and heard a lion roar nearby in the dark. Once airborne, we saw few animals and, instead of the imagery portrayed of gliding effortlessly over the plains, there was the roar of the propulsion device that made me uneasy and frightened away animals. Then, we landed and had an English breakfast of champagne (I hate to complain, but, it was, at best, mediocre champagne) and eggs. It was a great waste of money, although my certificate impresses visitors to my office. I would guess that the "flight" was less than an hour. I suppose that the balloon can be lowered---as I recall, we didn't maintain a constant altitude. Since it requires no energy other than climbing into the balloon and standing there under the flame for an hour, you should have plenty of grit left for the rest of the day. Getting up early is the only drawback. ZZ
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Dec 14th, 2003, 03:23 PM
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Zambezi,

Thank you for your reply. I did have a hard time accepting the $395 per person price tag for a one hour hot air balloon ride and breakfast.

I did read on a website that there is only one company or pilot allowed to provide the hot air balloon excursions in the entire Serengeti. No competition usually equals price gouging and in this case it appears to be no different.

Thanks again for the honest response.
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Dec 15th, 2003, 04:49 AM
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Hi Roccco,
We did a ride over the Mara. I certainly don't regret the trip. But while it was great and we did see lots of animals (probably becuase the migration was still there) I can't imagine ever doing it again.

As for ten guests in a basket, I was surprised that it wasn't crowded. The basket was divided into about five compartments -- a larger one in the center for the balloon operator, flanked on either side by two smaller ones for each couple. Our pilot turned the balloon around several times on the trip so that the people in the back would have a front view and vice versa. We flew from probably 20 feet to 100 feet above the ground -- our altitude was variable the whole time depending on the direction we needed to go (she explained that lower air will send the balloon one way and higher air the other way, but I can't remember which is left and which is right). So lowering for a group of animals probably isn't possible -- the pilot will be concentrating on moving toward your breakfast landing spot. Our excursion was just over one hour and we had plenty of energy for the drive afterwards, although it was our second game drive so we were pretty energetic at that point regardless.

Our breakfast was wonderful and we heard a lot of stories about other balloon pilots (one in particular who continually landed his Kenya based balloon in Tanzania and had his guests run from the border police). But it was the overall experience and our pilot that made it fun rather than anything amazing that we saw.
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Dec 15th, 2003, 09:54 AM
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Hi Roccco,

I went on the hot air balloon in the Masai Mara. Height and orientation (front/back) varied. We saw giraffe, hippos, lions (and on our way to breakfast, saw what we think were the same lions with their kill) and zebras. Yes, the animals will run from the sound of the burner, but I got a nice shot of the zebra in motion away from the balloon.

The breakfast was fine (I don't drink, so can't comment on the quality of the champagne!) and it was great sitting out on the plain with like-minded travelers, everyone delighted with the experience.

Maybe it's just because it was my first trip to Africa and my first balloon ride, but I have to say that it was one of the best experiences of my trip. Gliding over the Mara at dawn, all I could think was 'I am the luckiest person on the face of the earth at this moment.'

There's a shot in my album that I took from the balloon: http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?c=7cvzehw...n&x=0&y=40xnqg

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Dec 15th, 2003, 01:15 PM
  #6
sandi
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Roccco -
The $395 price is about the going rate is various countries - Turkey, Egypt and Africa. Apparently these operations are run by European companies and compared to that fact that you can get a balloon trip in the states for a bit more than half does make one consider.

Granted ballooning over Connecticut in the Fall might not be considered as exciting as doing it in Africa - it depends on whom your with and whether you want to see what's below or enjoy the experience and/or the romance
We opted for $225/hr in CT.
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