Africa Overland Tours
Masai Mara Hot Air Balloon Review
I have wanted to write a Masai Mara Hot Air Balloon review for quite some time. I think many people miss out on this one or maybe don’t know what to expect and this was true in my case. After all, the very first time I set foot in Africa, the Masai Mara Hot Air Balloon was the very last thing on my mind!
In other words, when I jumped on board my first Africa overland tour, I had no intention of taking one. The truth is, as with skydiving in Swakopmund, I decided that the Masai Mara hot air balloon would be too a little outside of my budget.
As it turns out, these two optional activities were both fantastic and both worth the money.
Quick synopsis of my Masai Mara Balloon Review
The Masai Mara Hot Air Balloon is an optional excursion on trips into the Mara. The trip needs to be booked in advance and lasts for approximately 4-5 hours in total with air time of one hour. For those who have a decent budget, splash out. For anyone on a super tight budget, save the cash for later.
Here is a close look at my Masai Mara Hot Air Balloon review:
Masai Mara Hot Air Balloon Review
There is really nothing like taking a trip up over the Mara at sunrise. As mentioned above, I had no intention of joining this optional excursion on my overland tour but a free spot opened at the las minute. To be honest, there was also the fear of missing out – everyone else seemed to be going!
About the Schedule
Wake Up and Smell no Coffee – Unfortunately, my main complaint for thisMasai Mara Hot Air Balloon review is that there was no coffee! You wake up pretty early on the morning of the excursion and leave camp at 4am. Most often, this tends to put people off the idea which seems a little silly in my opinion. From here, you will drive through the Mara in darkness to the launch site and wait as the balloons are prepared.
Take Off – The hot air balloon takes off at sunrise and you get up high enough to witness it breaking over the clouds.
In-Flight – As mentioned, you spend one hour in the air. Although nothing is guaranteed, you tend to see quite a lot of wildlife but keep in mind, this is a balloon and you go wherever the balloon decides to go!
Landing – After one hour in the air, you land safely in an open field. At this point, a safari vehicle will pick the group up and take it to a nearby location.
Breakfast – The breakfast is incredible and although sold as a “champagne breakfast”, the food is fantastic. That being said, it’s just really special to sit out in the open here and drink in the scenery with a nice cup of coffee.
Masai Mara Hot Air Balloon Review: My Experience
I had never taken a balloon ride before and I’m not exactly afraid of heights but honestly, the take off is such a bizarre experience. In other words, how many times have you just floated up into the air like that? It’s surreal!
My favourite part of the hot air balloon in the Masai Mara was also at the beginning – sunrise. The captain began counting down from 30 seconds and at the precise moment he arrived at the number one – the sun came up over the horizon. I found this to be spellbinding to say the least.
Once up there, you take flight and start to reach some pretty impressive speeds. In spite of being up so high, you also get to see quite a lot from a hot air balloon and as for the old cliche? Being up that high really does give you a different perspective of the mara.
We managed to hover right above a pride of lion for quite some time and a nursery of impala too. Gliding over rivers, we were within feet of hippo and upon reaching the forest, I was amazed that we got so close to the trees.
In many ways, this is what I found so special about the hot air balloon the Mara – it was full of surprises that I had never even considered!
Should You Take this Excursion?
Honestly, if you happen to be on a super tight budget, give this one a miss. Likewise, if you are backpacking around the world for the next year and Africa is your first stop, I would consider skipping this excursion and spreading the money saved across multiple excursions later one. Fair enough?
On the other hand, this is an absolutely fantastic way to see the Mara. If money is not a concern, you will not regret taking this optional excursion.
Note: The Masai Mara hot air balloon ride needs to be booked in advance. I say this as an overland tour leader; too many of my guests arrived without a booking only to be disappointed. Also, be careful as there are some super dodgy agencies and companies that offer this particular day trip.
For this reason, you should always pre-book the flight and do your own due diligence to find a reputable company.
I hope you found some value in my Masai Mara Hot Air Balloon review. Either way, have an excellent time and stay safe on your safari!
The Masai Mara Air Balloon ride is available on this 4-day camping safari with G Adventures.
PS. If you need any help choosing the right tour for your trip to Africa, hit me up in the Live Chat >>>