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Hot Air Ballooning Over The Serengeti...Worth The $800 Or Not???

Hot Air Ballooning Over The Serengeti...Worth The $800 Or Not???

Feb 3rd, 2006, 10:27 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 20,132
Dennis - Your so polite - I could have handled being publicly ridiculed and exposed for spelling errors - only my mother who edits/writes would care.
cybor is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 08:46 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,490
Hi Rocco

Of course, a single specific balloon trip experience cannot help us conclude anything. Usually a person takes only one such cruise.
If one is ready to take the chance (of not flying at all), it is possible to higher the probability of migration watch from the air (more datails follow).

On a number of occasions i've taken people to the baloon but could not fly myself though been offered complimentary flight... Many have not seen anything exciting from the air, but it seems the flight itself satisfies...
I was extremely lucky on my only balloon trip:
1. We travelled quite a long (way &) time. after significant time in the air we've seen another take-off at another lodge. the other balloon travelled paralel to us for a while & then landed while we still continued for some time. .
2. we had the luck to see migrating masses below.
3. We did get some good photographic chances of willife while flying relatively low
4. We had a really lucky game-drive in the skies: We've seen all kinds of altelopes including Eland not always seen in Mara. Saw giraffes, Spotted Hyenas, lions eating a kill, and the climax was when i spotted 2 rhinos (the ego-minded pilot was busy showing off & having a small talk. he was really surprised. i was surprised he was not using binoculars at all...)

Let's seperate the ballooning experience from the wildlife watch.

Since for some fodorites it isn't a once in a life time trip, u can try to enlarge chances of seeing migration from the air. when staying in Mara/Serengeti for several nights watch where the baloons take off from & where they fly to. choose the right spot (in relation to migration), go to the pilot & tell him u wanna join anytime. The pilot can decide what size of basket size to choose - they'll notify your camp about it.
i've seen guys joining the evening before, but i've also seen a tourist claimimg he had booked 6 months in advance but was told "|sorry we r overbooked" ...

enjoy it


P.S. of course, when booking in advance, do not book the flight on the last day of your stay- they might call it off - so u get a chance the next day
aby is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 12:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,305
OK, I'll be a dissenting voice. We didn't do it and were glad we didn't, although I suppose if money weren't a finite resource we probably would have. Didn't see anyone else doing it either which I thought was interesting, even though we drove by the balloon site many mornings on our game drives in Seronera. We LOVED our flight from Kili to Lobo though & our mouths were agape at the views the whole way (and a plane flight is way cheaper than a balloon ride -- and we happened to be the only ones on board). So we did get to see the Serengeti from the air which was a great experience. We did have a champagne breakfast several days on our safari, as champagne (yes the real French stuff) was served at breakfast right there next to the juices at Mbuzi Mawe, Serengeti Serena, & Ngorongoro Serena (complimentary). Eight hundred dollars is a lot of money to us and I would rather put it toward another trip someplace. That said, if we had more money than we knew what to do with, I'd probably have done it. I hope yours is great Rocco!
lisa is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 01:09 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553

Thanks for the feedback.

Actually, with the addition of the King George V Four Seasons in Paris, I do NOT have an infinite amount of funds for this trip, and that is why I am still debating the balloon ride. Only because I have a hard time telling myself "no", I am going to go ahead and do the hot air ballooning and I will consider any gameviewing from the air a bonus.

Given the fact that my next trip is 9 months away, and probably 1/3 the final cost, I should have plenty of time to get everything in order. So, why not push the envelope just a wee bit more and go hot air ballooning?

Still struggling with what to do with a wide angle lens...I may just settle on what I already have, a Canon 17-85mm f/4-5.6 lens rather than spending another $700+ for the extrawide angle lens and filters. The 17mm is really 27mm given the reduced sensor size of the Canon 20d. $700 will pay, or nearly pay, for the hot air ballooning.

So, I will say "no" on the lens, and "yes" on the hot air ballooning.

Thanks again for all the feedback.
Roccco is offline  
Feb 4th, 2006, 01:12 PM
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(what I meant was that my next trip, 15 nights at luxury lodges in Namibia and South Africa and 8 nights at Kwando should be about 1/3 the price of my Tanzania trip, unless I buy a business class ticket from Los Angeles to Johannesburg, which I would definitely consider if I was able to get the other ticket for my wife with frequent flier miles)
Roccco is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 07:35 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,367
Your wife will be less then interested if she reads this.
luangwablondes is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 08:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Anyone who assumes that any activity is completely immune from accidents is naive in the extreme.

We don't know the cause for this particular accident but I can't say I recall hearing much about hot air balloon accidents being a common occurence.

I would hazard a guess that hot air ballooning is still far safer than driving on the streets of your own home town and certainly safer than all kinds of other things we all do without thinking twice.

Kavey is offline  
Feb 10th, 2006, 06:46 PM
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Posts: 5,553
Sorry to hear about that, but I guess it makes it much less likely now that I will suffer the same fate. They bought the winning lottery ticket to the wrong lottery and their number came up.

I just told ATR last night to book my balloon flight IF they could get it for me on my first full morning at Mbuzi Mawe...I didn't want to do it on the morning I departed.
Roccco is offline  
Feb 13th, 2006, 05:52 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 7,391
in february's conde naste there was an article that said that in the U.S. there were an average of 16 baloon accidents a year with 6% of those involving a fatality. No info on African baloon accidents though. But "given the tens of thousands of flying hours clocked by baloons each year, accidents are statistically rare" Have a great flight!
matnikstym is offline  
Feb 13th, 2006, 09:00 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Thanks...hopefully I do not become a statistic...if I fall from the balloon, however, I may just be able to create the Roccongoro Crater and that could be a blessing for wildlife!

I will do ballooning on my second to last morning. It would have been silly to splurge as I did for this holiday and then leave off the hot air ballooning.
Roccco is offline  
Feb 14th, 2006, 04:58 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 369
Hey Rocco,

Even if you were to die on a balloon trip.... it would be the most amazing way to go!!
simbakubwa is offline  
Apr 9th, 2006, 09:24 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 1,558
Kind of hard to crash when you are only 50 ft off the ground, bummer it wasn't the grand finale of your trip Rocco.
CarlaM is offline  

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