Is it worth the $$$ for a hot air balloon ride?

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May 1st, 2007, 09:10 PM
  #1
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Is it worth the $$$ for a hot air balloon ride?

This probably borders on "dumb question" territory. The whole concept sounds very cool, but then to think you just dropped ~$400 for an hour or so ride, missed a potentially kick-ass game drive (I'm assuming you forego a morning game drive for the balloon), etc, does it really justify the cost?

Perhaps writing it out, I've just answered my own question, but feedback/suggestions are still welcome and appreciated.

Thanks,

Shane
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May 1st, 2007, 09:11 PM
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Sorry, should have added...this proposed balloon ride would be in the Mara in January.
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May 3rd, 2007, 02:54 AM
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Hi Shane, I don't think it's a dumb question at all. I'll answer you based on my single experience in a balloon. We did the balloon ride in the Masai Mara in early February and unfortunately were disappointed for several reasons. First, it was overcast, so the sunrise was not spectacular and the landscape was very subdued - difficult for photography. Second, we saw very little wildlife - one lion, a few hippos, a few gazelles (the migration was just starting so we did not see huge herds anywhere on our trip). Third, we had a technical difficulty with our balloon (one of the vent lines was tangled) and had to land after about 30 minutes. They refunded us half of our money. The other balloon had a full hour ride but they didn't see much more wildlife than we did. Of course there are a lot of variables; other people would probably say that it was the highlight of their trip!

We originally did not plan to do the balloon ride because it was so expensive, but most of our group was going so we talked ourselves into it. I'm glad we went, but I'm just not sure I would do it again.

You do leave very early in the morning - you are in the balloon as the sun rises - so you can still get in a morning game drive, but it's after breakfast.
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May 3rd, 2007, 04:53 AM
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I can't speak to a balloon drive in Africa b/c I haven't done that yet (I am travelling to the Mara in Sept and I don't plan to do a balloon ride).

I did a balloon ride in San Diego and it was fun, but I think a bit overrated for the money.

I would have to think that if you're doing this for wildlife viewing purposes, you would see much more game on a drive vs from the balloon.

The balloon rides are generally pretty short as well, which is a consideration...
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May 3rd, 2007, 04:56 AM
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If traveling to Tanzania, it would be better to do the balloon safari over the Serengeti. Reason: the wildebeest herds should be in/around this area (Centra/Seronera) from where the balloons lift-off.

Of course, no one can guarantee what you will see, the weather, how high you'll go or if you'll skim the treetops. However, know the price for the balloon in Tanzania tends to be more expensive than if in the Mara... probably higher by $20-$50/person.

There are lots of threads on this subject, pros and cons, so do a search to read others comments.
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May 3rd, 2007, 08:11 AM
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No, IMHO.

Not a dumb question at all.

Here are other discussions on the pros and cons of the balloon.

http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=34969042

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34566261

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34832767

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May 3rd, 2007, 08:22 AM
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If we are going to the Mara and the Serengeti in October which would you recommend for a balloon ride?
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May 3rd, 2007, 08:30 AM
  #8
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Thanks all, and thanks atravelynn for the links. I read those threads as well. I may kick my own butt for a long time, but I think we're going to bypass the balloon ride.

I'll spend the money on "stuff" to take to the villages, but NO GUM!!! ;-) Sorry, inside joke, but she'll get it.
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May 3rd, 2007, 02:09 PM
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chewey -

In Oct, I'd opt for ballooning in the Mara.

Unless you're in the very north of the Serengeti, where some of the migrating herds maybe found, there is no balloon lift-off from this area. In the Serengeti, the lift-off is in the Central/Seronera area and more ideal in Dec/Jan or Jun/Jul.

going_2_africa - got it
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May 3rd, 2007, 04:04 PM
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Sandi,

Thank you for clarifying that. We are staying at Little Governors. So hopefully we will Balloon there!

Keri
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May 3rd, 2007, 04:35 PM
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Shane, I've done two trips to the Serengeti and still no balloon ride. No regrets so far.
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May 3rd, 2007, 09:02 PM
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Cheweyhead,
I was told be a balloonist that LG is the best place for a balloon ride because even if you see no animals you can enjoy the view of the river.
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May 4th, 2007, 08:34 AM
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Excellent. We will stick with our plan. Now I have to convince our 2 friends staying at Olonana to come over and join us!
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