As expected, the vast array of habitats plays home to an equally vast array of animals, and in huge concentrations. The Serengeti Ecosystem has an incredible number of predators, including over 3 000 lions, about 8 000 hyenas, and 1 000 leopards. The predators follow the grazers as they travel each year on the circular route known as the Great Migration, but some populations of animals remain permanently in certain parts of the parks. Grazers include huge populations of wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, a variety of antelope, and warthogs.
Fact is the Serengeti Ecosystem encompasses a vast range of different habitats and landscapes. Yes, the stretch-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see grasslands are there, but there are also acacia-dotted savannahs, hilly outcrops (or kopjes), wooded hills, and riverine woodlands, all of which attract different animals.
As we continued our flight, we caught sight of two lions laying in one of the paths. Initially they were a little hard to make out since they blended in so well into the surrounding tall grass. It was only when the morning light reflected off them as they started to move that we could see them more clearly. Our pilot took us down lower for closer views, and with our quiet balloon hovering above them, we were able to track the lions for quite a while as they moved through the grass toward the river.
We ended up not seeing as many animals during the balloon ride as I had hoped we would. The migration had not yet reached the Masai Mara, so the savanna was not yet filled with the millions of wildebeests, zebras and other herdbeasts that migrate to follow the rains and the resulting green grasses. Despite this, the balloon ride ended up being one of my top three moments from the whole trip. Floating quietly up in the air and being able to see the expansive landscape from low altitude was an unforgettable experience.
In a small way, this balloon flight was a trans-formative event. I faced my fear of heights, and in these circumstances, discovered that it was not a problem. I am now addicted to balloon rides and will do them whenever I have a chance going forward.
Captain Kim is from Korea but it was here flying high over the African Savanna that we realized just how small the world is. When we told him we were from Canada he replied that he used to fly hot air balloons in Canada.
Deb n Dave! I wouldnt have explained the masai mara ballon experience any better. Nothing beats the feeling of silently gliding over the plains to watch the drifting sunrise and the waking predators in an endless savanah where one minute is never like the last.
The Mara Game Reserve, as it was originally called, an area of some 1,812 km2, was established in 1961 and looks like the classical African savannah landscape. The Reserve is situated in the south-western part of Kenya and is the northern-most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, covering some 25,000 km2.The variety, numbers and density of the animals makes the Mara one of the best, if not the best place for a safari in Kenya and chances are you will see the big five which usually includes elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard.
The varied landscape and vast grasslands is the key to the incredible diversity of species and sheer number of wildlife. Just the bird list in Masai Mara exceeds 450 species including vultures, marabou stork, secretary bird, hornbill, crowned crane, ostrich, long-crested Eagle, and African pygmy-falcon and many more.
You will be picked up from your lodge/camp in the early morning and driven to the balloon launch site. Taking off in the beautiful early morning, you drift above the browsing game and have tremendous opportunities for unusual photographs. What could be more uplifting than an early morning safari in a hot air balloon flying over the vast plains of Africa? Witness an African sunrise as a plethora of wildlife roam the land beneath you. At the end of the flight you land on the plains, in the midst of this enchanting savannah a champagne breakfast is laid out with the mouth watering aroma of sausages, eggs, and bacon, sizzling over a charcoal fire. Drive in a leisurely fashion with game viewing on your way back to your lodge/camp.
We arrived in the dark, rugged up with layers upon layers and saw the large portion of land covered by the balloon. We had previously gone hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, Turkey, but how we entered the baskets in Africa was entirely different. There was no stepping stool or ladder, instead, the basket was laid down on the ground and we crawled in, assumed the position and were pulled up with the force of the balloon. It was exhilarating and slightly entertaining at the same time.
Join other Travelers on the same mission as yours as you explore the plenteous plethora of experience Masai mara can offer, from the vast grassy Savanna to the big 5 to the rich Masai Culture, this is the option for budget Solo Travelers
This is but a small taste of what can be expected when going on a hot air balloon adventure. A hot air balloon safari experience is one that you will never forget whether you ride over the majesty of the great migration in East Africa or the treetops of the wild bushveld of South Africa.
Travel north of the Maasai Mara to private ranches with pioneering conservation programmes and jaw-dropping landscapes best explored by helicopter. Here you will discover flamingo-covered lakes, dramatic landscapes and ancient cultures.
To safari is to travel deep into the unknown; to journey into new landscapes and to uncover truths about yourself. To safari is to turn your back on the familiar, to discover new things, and to return home with your mindset changed forever. To safari is to jump on a plane, or get in a car, and feel your heart flitter at the thought of arriving at your destination.
The landscapes in the Mara are vast and the trees iconic. The dust that clings to your face tells a story of a track driven in an open vehicle. The wind-swept hair is evidence of the freshness of the breeze.
This spellbinding mass movement is the sum of smaller ones. Smaller knots of wildebeest and zebra flank the mega wildebeest herd, taking things at their own pace and spreading out across the landscape. While some stragglers arrive at fresh grazing sites days after the frontrunners, each beast follows the same instinctual drive that sees the whole herd flock from drier areas to nutrient-rich ones, circumnavigating the incredible savannahs of East Africa.
Some wildlife tours will regularly move camps to offer flexibility and optimise viewing, while some use static lodges and rove across the plains in dedicated safari vehicles each day to showcase the phenomenon of the migration. These are run as small group tours so that you can truly immerse yourself in the destination and the experience, gazing in awe out of your 4WD safari vehicle as you bounce your way across the landscape.
One of my most memorable moments was watching, from a hot air balloon above the Masai Mara, the serried masses of migrating wildebeest thundering across the landscape, black ribbons of flesh stretching as far as the eye could see, with only one goal in mind, to find pastures new.
In a paper published in 2010 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Parisi looked at how the speed at which one starling flew affected the velocity of the rest. He discovered that the behaviour of one animal affects and is affected by that of all the others in the group, no matter how large or small the group is. A starling changing speed will trigger a corresponding change in the speed of the other birds in the group. Acting as a group they have a wider perception range than they would have as individuals.
The landscape of the Mara is largely open grasslands with seasonal rivers cutting through. Covering 1,510 square km or 583 square miles the park occupies a small section of the greater Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. At the southernmost border of the park lies Tanzania and the Serengeti National Park. The North, West, and Eastern are bordered by Maasai communities who live as pastoralists.
They covered the landscape in stripes of white and black. We found cheetahs, lions, and elephants daily. To our surprise, despite being in the middle of the Mara we saw a few other vehicles that were not from our camp.
The dawn chorus of birds waking welcomes a new day on safari. Game drives are best experienced in the golden hours of the early morning and late evening when the landscape is flooded with golden light and shadows. Game drives bring you closer to nature and the anticipation of spotting an animal or a magnificent eagle in this vast wilderness makes the game drive an enthralling experience. Simple and delicious packed breakfasts, lunches and sundowners can be arranged the evening before your game drive so that you can enjoy the golden hours on safari.
If you want to feel free and unencumbered as you glide through the air, ballooning is the activity for you. Guided by the winds, hot air balloons allow passengers to soar far above the land, enjoying vast landscapes and panoramas from the safety of a giant basket. Skilled aeronauts can also navigate precariously close to the ground, skimming the treetops and providing a unique perspective on the terrain below.
The biggest draw of the festival, however, is the magnificent landscape and climate of New Mexico itself. Here you can expect clear blue skies, calm winds, and mild temperatures, making this an ideal location to try your hand at ballooning. Just watch the spectacular vista of New Mexico stretch out beneath you as you ascend into the sky with hundreds of glittering hot air balloons.
There are very few European capitals that allow hot air ballooning over the city centre. However, the historic city of Vilnius, in Lithuania, offers visitors this rare treat. The historic Old Town of Vilnius is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a perfect treasure trove for those with an interest in European architecture. This beautiful city is a labyrinth of cobbled streets, parks, baroque churches, and neoclassical buildings, with historic buildings dating back to the medieval period. 2b1af7f3a8