As others have said, this balloon ride has to be the most expensive in the world - but for us it proved to be one of our most memorable experiences and one we'll look back on with great affection for a very long time to come.
Booked and paid for before we arrived in Africa, we were impressed with the professionalism shown by the whole team from the moment we were met at our hotel for a briefing the night before our trip. Sammy was friendly and personable, ensuring that we knew exactly what to expect, how to dress, when to be ready and arranging for light refreshments before we left the hotel at an ungodly hour.
We drove an hour through the dark on very bumpy tracks to reach the launch site, spotting various animals (including a leopard) along the way. Once at the launch site, hot drinks and biscuits were available before we had a briefing by our pilot, Sebastian. Into the basket we went and up, up and away just as dawn was breaking.
We floated over giraffes, kudu, antelope, elephants and some wonderful countryside; our animal sightings were restricted to the first ten minutes of our flight but that really didn't matter - we'd been on several game drives already and were more interested in seeing the vast beauty of the Masai Mara from above once the animals disappeared. It was fascinating; we could clearly see the tracks through the high grass that the animals had left when criss crossing the plains, and could also spot the places where they chose to bed down for the night. We had the sun coming up behind us, and the Masai bathed in glorious light before us - it really was lovely and Sebastian made sure to turn the balloon constantly to be sure all passengers had a clear view of everywhere.
We floated along at a much lower altitude than previous balloon trips and enjoyed being able to appreciate the beauty of the countryside from this height. After an hour, it was time for a very smooth landing, into the trucks and off for breakfast.
We'd passed over the truck setting up our breakfast stop so knew it would be a good affair but were pleasantly surprised at just how grand and well organised it all was when we arrived - there was even A Loo with a View!
Plenty of food for all tastes, including freshly cooked eggs and pancakes, lots of sparkling wine or Bloody Marys, and an excellent atmosphere engendered by the happy catering team. I've no idea how they manage to be so cheerful and smiley day after day when they can be faced with such rudeness and ignorance from visiting tourists (why do some people insist on leaving their manners at home?) but they were an absolute delight to be around and certainly weren't shy about providing anything they thought you might need.
Breakfast was at two long tables and was great fun; a mix of nationalities and languages, we thoroughly enjoyed our leisurely and very ample breakfast before finally returning to the trucks for a game drive on the way back to the hotel.
A perfect morning and well worth the early start and eye watering expense. We chose to look at it as a whole experience and our entertainment for the day; something to make memories with, and to enjoy as an event that millions of others will never do. It didn't matter that we didn't see as many animals as we would have done on a game drive, we experienced the Masai Mara from a hundred feet up and loved every moment of our adventure. The wonderful staff who then provided breakfast in the middle of the bush with all mod cons topped off an altogether wonderful time. Thank you.
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