A Serengeti balloon safari is a fantastic once in a lifetime experience, particularly suitable for a bird’s eye-view game viewing experience on your Exuberant Kilimanjaro Safaris wildlife safari in northern Tanzania. Hot air balloon rides leave from four sites in the Serengeti:
In the Ndutu area; December to March. We make the most of the short-grass plains and woodland to view the migration from above as it lingers here for the calving season of the wildebeest in their hundreds of thousands.
In Central Serengeti; wildlife gathers year-round in the Seronera River Valley where there is permanent water. The Great Migration passes through around May and June.
The Western Serengeti; includes the Grumeti River, scene of theatrical crossings during the Great Migration in June and July, when hundreds of thousands of gnu, brave the giant Nile crocodiles, and many perish while others detour to avoid the perilous river.
In South Serengeti plains, the wildebeests assemble from December onwards, to calve in February, producing 8000 newborn every day on a three-week marathon, a sight not to be missed on your personalized nature travel in Serengeti.
The plains of the Serengeti are particularly suited to balloon flights which are particularly convenient, letting you get aerially closer and distinctly accessible to the action than you could be by a game-viewing safari vehicle
Your Balloon Safari adventure starts early morning when you depart your lodge or camp, it is still dark and you may be fortunate to see nocturnal animals on the way to the
Conditions are favorable early every morning, but you are advised to pre-book this popular activity for your safari holiday to Tanzania due its limited seating availability. Unfortunately, only children over seven years of age and fit and active adults can be accommodated. Because weight is a crucial safety consideration, passengers weighing over 120 kilos (265 pounds) may need to reserve two places. The balloons are immense. Baskets are divided into compartments for comfort and security, accommodating 16 people for each one-hour voyage.
Depending on your camp / lodge location, you will be collected as early as 04:00 and taken to the balloon launch site. When you arrive, you will meet your pilot and witness your balloon being inflated and prepared for launch. As the balloon’s huge envelope is filled by fans powered by a mobile generator, you will be provided a thorough safety precaution briefing and demonstration of boarding and landing positions, as well as what you are likely to see. The basket is quite deep, with compartments and rails to grasp for safety and to brace yourself.
Finally, with the balloon still safely tethered, you climb aboard at about 06:30, just as the sun is about to break above the horizon. When the full complement of passengers is loaded, the pilot starts the burner, the balloon is released, and you lift off.
Launching at dawn, rising as the sun rises; you gently float over the plains of the magnificent Serengeti. Your balloon floats in whatever direction the winds of the day are heading over this wonderful area. It is an adventure – even for us. Whereas we know where we have started, we genuinely do not know where we will land as we float in the direction of and speed of the wind.
Your pilot will use varying altitudes and layers of air to navigate the balloon over this amazing area. Each day is different, some of the flight may be low, offering a different perspective and at other times your balloon may climb to 1000’ or more.
Nobody can predict, no two flights are ever the same and your balloon safari will be unique. Some flights high enough to view the panoramic landscape for miles ahead, others low enough to see individual animals at close quarters.
For the next hour (flight times vary from 50–70 minutes) you drift above the plains with the winds, tracked by the ground crew in their vehicles. Depending on conditions, you may fly high over the forest, peering into vultures’ nests and watching baboons waking in their tree-top roosts, or swoop just a few metres above the dew-covered grass as zebra and antelope scatter. Skilled pilots can follow streams, to glide just yards above snorting hippos or prides of lions taking water, and skim the savannah low enough to capture aerial wildlife photos. However for much of the flight, you’ll soar like a tawny eagle through the dawning landscape as the sun transforms from a burnished orb on the shadowy horizon to a brilliant disc above the plains. You may have other balloons – often strikingly patterned – accompanying your flight.
Landings vary as you descend, the balloon may drag the basket onto its side, leaving the passengers grasping the rails in a giggling cluster of arms and legs; or if the breeze is kind your pilot may execute the perfect finish, setting the basket upright onto suitable ground as the balloon collapses neatly to one side.
It is not a cheap excursion, but it will make your northern Tanzania vacation one of the most memorable of your whole life. The price reflects the enormous cost of the balloons due to a safety replacement every few hundred hours, equivalent to swapping with a high-end automobile. High fees are payable to the national park for tourist concessions for every single passenger. A skilled, experienced and licensed pilot and staff of 20 are needed for each trip, including launching and recovery as well as transport to and from the launch and celebratory champagne / sparkling wine breakfast.
Cost of Balloon Safari (minimum two persons sharing, in addition to cost of safari itinerary arranged by Exuberant Kilimanjaro Safaris):
Balloon Flight Cost - Serengeti Standard = $599.00 per person
Enjoy a thrilling bird's-eye perspective of the wildlife, the endless plains, and its numerous Kopjes.
Balloon Flight Cost - Serengeti Private (couples) = $4,800.00 per person
Whether it’s a wedding anniversary or any other special occasion, hot air ballooning will always be one of the most original memories for a couple. As a gift from husband to wife or girlfriend to boyfriend or as a joint experience the couple has always wanted to do – hot air ballooning is definitely top of the list.
Other balloon destinations; It is also possible to charter special private balloon flights in the Grumeti Reserve for honeymoon couples on their romantic trip in the Great Plains of Serengeti, as well as a Tarangire balloon safari and Ruaha balloon safari. Contact us for more information.
Sample Exuberant Kilimanjaro Safaris 5 day safari itinerary with hot air balloon excursion:
Day 1 – Arusha / Moshi – Tarangire National Park
Pick up from Arusha/Moshi and transfer to Tarangire national park.
After early breakfast, we head into the Tarangire National Park for a noon game drive. The park runs along the line of the Tarangire River and is mainly made up of low-lying hills on the Great Rift Valley floor. Its natural vegetation mainly consists of Acacia woodland and giant African Baobab trees, with huge swamp areas in the south. Both the river and the swamps act like a magnet for wild animals, during Tanzania’s dry season. The Tarangire National Park is reputed to contain some of the largest elephant herds in Africa. Drive to preferred accommodation for dinner and overnight stay
Day 2 – Tarangire – Serengeti Plains
After breakfast we head towards the Serengeti National Park, via the beautiful high lying farmland of Karatu and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Leaving the highlands behind, we descend into the heart of wild Africa – the Serengeti National Park – with its endless plains, rolling into the distance as far as the eye can see. We head to the central park area, known as the Seronera area, one of the richest wildlife habitats in the park, featuring the Seronera River, which provides a valuable water source to this area and therefore attracts wildlife well representative of most of the Serengeti’s species.
We arrive in time for lunch and enjoy an afternoon game drive in the Serengeti national park.
Dinner and overnight in the Seronera area, as per the standard and type of accommodation option requested.
Day 3 – Serengeti Plains – HOT AIR BALLOON EXCURSION DAY!
Be one of only a few fortunate people to glide in a Hot Air Balloon over the Serengeti Plains (available at supplementary cost by pre-arrangement). Floating silently above the awakening bush, while spotting wildlife and enjoying the amazing scenery of Africa, across rivers and over numerous small villages.
We do an after breakfast game viewing drive along the Sogore River Circuit, which loops into the plains south of the Seronera River, and which is good for possible Lion, Thomson gazelle, topi, ostrich and cheetah sightings. The Visitor Centre close to the Serengeti Seronera Lodge and public campsites, is well worth a visit after the morning’s game drive. This nicely designed centre offers some interesting wildlife displays as well as a gift shop selling information leaflets and maps of the area. The centre also has a shop where cold drinks and snacks can be purchased, as well as a picnic area and information trail up and around a nearby kopje. We will enjoy a relaxed picnic lunch at the centre in the shade of the giant acacia trees.
In the afternoon we will follow the Kopjes Circuit, which goes anti-clockwise around the Maasai Kopjes, which usually attract a number of lion and some formidably large cobras. Kopjes are weathered granite outcrops, scattered around the plains, most of which are miniature ecosystems, providing shade and drinking water in pools left in the rock after the rains. This makes the kopjes particularly good for spotting wildlife in the dry seasons – including lions, which like to lie in wait for animals coming to drink!
Dinner and overnight in the Seronera area, as per the standard and type of accommodation option requested.
Day 4 – Serengeti Plains – Ngorongoro crater
After breakfast at the lodge do we depart to Ngorongoro Conservation area. We will stopover at Olduvai Gorge, boasting with a history dating back to the dawn of time. It was here, that the anthropologists Drs. Lois
and Mary Leakey discovered the skulls of ‘Nutcracker Man’ and ‘Handy Man’, both very significant links in the chain of human evolution.
We arrive in time for lunch at the lodge and after lunch we will descend over 600 meters into the crater to view wildlife for a half day’s safari tour. Supported by a year round water supply and fodder, the Ngorongoro National Park supports a vast variety of animals, which include herds of wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, eland, warthog, hippo, and giant African elephants. Another big draw card to this picturesque national park, is it’s dense population of predators, which include lions, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs and the ever-elusive leopard, which sometimes requires a trained eye to spot. We will visit Lake Magadi, a large but shallow alkaline lake in the southwestern corner, which is one of the main features of the crater. A large number of flamingos, hippos and other water birds can usually been seen here.
Dinner and overnight as per the standard and type of accommodation option requested.
Day 5 – Ngorongoro crater – Arusha / Moshi
Enjoy breakfast, after which we will transfer back to Arusha/Moshi. Upon arrival in Arusha / Moshi will we have lunch and then we will end our Tanzania safari adventure. The group should tip the guide around $30 a day and assistant $25 a day. You will be taken to your hotel, which ends our safari services.
Please note this itinerary is subject to change with or without prior notice according to local conditions / park rules. The order of places visited could also be changed according to the guide’s decision.
The departure dates for all our African safaris, tours, travel and other trekking packages are totally flexible according to your own personal needs. Please contact us for further and more detailed information, as well as information on our photographic packages, safaris, tours, travel and other trekking packages into Tanzania.
Balloon Excursion Notes:
Start location and time: Various launch sites, pre-dawn
Duration of excursion: 3 hours in total
End location: Various locations, depending on the flight
Maximum size of group: Usually 16
Meals included: A full bush breakfast, with sparkling wine, is included after landing
Availability: Balloon flights are available every morning, subject to suitable weather conditions. If the flight is cancelled because of poor weather, you will be re-booked on a later flight or your money refunded.
Height and age restrictions
The basket height is 1.2m (4ft). Children need to be at least 1.2m in height and can then fly at the pilot’s discretion, depending on their age and maturity.
Please Note: Exuberant Kilimanjaro Safaris only books balloon excursions as a part of a full Exuberant Kilimanjaro Safaris itinerary. We partner with many reputable balloon operators (such as: www.balloonsafaris.com) and you can book your wonderful balloon safari through Exuberant Kilimanjaro Safaris, as we handle all ground operations like 4x4 safari vehicles, lodge/camp bookings, park fees etc. If you have any difficulty booking a Tanzania Balloon Safari at any point, please do get in touch with us for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions:
When is the best time of year for ballooning in Serengeti?
We are fortunate that the weather in the Serengeti is suitable for ballooning almost every day of the year. We fly in the following areas every morning: Serengeti - Central – Year Round Serengeti/Ngorongoro - Ndutu - 20 Dec – 31 March Serengeti - Western - June – October
What about the "rainy season"?
We prefer to call them the GREEN SEASONS. The ‘long rains’ (late March to early June) & the ‘short rains’ (November to mid December). In the Serengeti, the great migration passes through Central Serengeti during the green seasons. At these times it USUALLY rains late afternoon and during the night. Mornings are USUALLY bright and clear with gentle winds (ideal ballooning weather!). The landscape is lush, green and dust free (yes, your vehicle may get stuck in the mud – but our balloon won’t!) In Ruaha – rains tend to fall from November to April/May. During the rest of the year, rain is unusual but as ever, we can’t completely predict the weather.
Do I need to book in advance?
We do strongly recommend that you book in advance. We have limited capacity and this exclusive adventure is frequently fully booked.
I started out my passion for sharing the Natural wonders of Tanzania with the world which drove me to do intense research, and gave me the impetus to turn hard work and inspiration into to a successful and reputable Kilimanjaro adventure company and are thrilled to be a part of the expanding wing of the tourism industry of Tanzania.