You’ve been dreaming of your Tanzanian safari for so long, and the day when it begins has finally arrived. How about exploring this incredible country from a unique perspective on a Serengeti balloon safari?
Discover why so many safari visitors fall in love with the Serengeti. Keep an eye out for big cats, even bigger elephants, and almost every kind of safari wildlife you can imagine. You might also see giraffe, impala, zebra, wildebeest, buffalo, hundreds of species of birds, and that may all just be before breakfast.
You’ll never forget watching these animals interact from above, whether you see a hunt, a vast herd or a mother protecting her cub or calf. Plus, there’s the Serengeti’s unforgettable scenery: observe Africa’s iconic acacia trees, the park’s golden grasslands and great piles of boulders known as “kopjes”.
After your Serengeti balloon safari, spend some time in this busy northern Tanzanian town known as Arusha, and you’ll experience energetic streets filled with life and color.
Here’s everything you need to know about experiencing the Serengeti from a hot air balloon!
Related read: 10 Things to do in Tanzania
Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Balloon Safari in the Serengeti National Park
- Where to Have a Balloon Safari in the Serengeti
- What to expect from a Balloon Safari in the Serengeti
- What to bring on a Hot Air Balloon Safari
- When should you book your balloon flight?
- Continue the safari afterwards
How to Experience a Serengeti Balloon Safari
Serengeti National Park offers a unique and exhilarating experience with its Balloon Safari.
From the vantage point of a hot air balloon, you can admire the vast beauty of the Serengeti grasslands and get a whole new perspective on the park’s abundant wildlife.
This is a truly remarkable adventure.
Begin your day at dawn with a one-hour flight (weather permitting), where you will see wildlife and migration from above and below as you soar over the vast savannah. Upon landing, enjoy a warm welcome with champagne and an exquisite breakfast in the wilderness. Then, head back to your hotel for an exciting game drive.
The hot air balloons are usually available in the Ndutu area between December 20 and March 31, while they operate in the North Serengeti from July 1 to October 31.
You’ll normally take off at around 6:30am and return to camp by 9:30am to continue your safari experience. This activity is suitable for individuals aged seven years or older who are reasonably mobile, physically fit enough to fly and have a sense of adventure. Please note that weight restrictions may apply.
Where to Have a Balloon Safari in the Serengeti
Going on a balloon safari in Africa can be quite expensive, but let me tell you, it is absolutely worth every penny spent on this incredible adventure in the sky!
There are several designated spots in the Serengeti where you can take your balloon safari. The best location for this exclusive airborne wildlife viewing experience depends on factors such as the abundance of animals in a particular area of the Serengeti National Park, the proximity of your lodge or hotel, and your choice of balloon operator.
The central part of the Serengeti offers an impressive array of wildlife, including wildebeest, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and boasts one of the highest concentrations of big cats in the park.
Kogatende is often compared to Switzerland due to its picturesque landscape, which resembles the rolling hills of that country.
It’s no wonder it’s called “the Serengeti,” as its terrain closely resembles that iconic African national park, with its vast plains and the breathtaking Mara River running through it. This region also happens to be one of one of the few places where you can witness firsthand the awe-inspiring phenomenon of the Great Migration from July to November.
However, if you plan your visit between May and July, Togoro becomes an excellent place to observe this remarkable event known as the Great Migration.
Each year in East Africa’s Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, a stunning natural spectacle called the “Great Migration” occurs. Millions of wildebeest, zebras, and other hoofed animals migrate through these lands. And guess what? Togoro is often referred to as the “Golden Plains of the Serengeti” due to its picturesque landscape of acacia and sausage trees.
Once you’ve booked your Serengeti balloon safari, one of our team members will provide you with important details about your early morning pick-up, what to wear, and what to expect during this extraordinary adventure. This informative briefing usually takes place at your lodge the evening before your Serengeti Balloon Safari.
What to Expect from a Balloon Safari in the Serengeti
You will have to get up early, as sometimes it’s a 30-60-minute drive to get to the starting point. But when you arrive at the starting point, the staff will warmly greet you.
Although it’s still dark outside, the sky is turning a stunning shade of purple. While the team prepares the balloon for flight, you can enjoy a comforting cup of tea or coffee and a delicious biscuit. The hot air balloon is heated to provide the necessary lift for flight, while ropes hold the basket in place.
Just before takeoff, there is a brief safety briefing and harness demonstration. The crew will instruct you on positioning yourself in the basket and what to expect during the ride. Once everything is set up and ready to go, you are free to enter the basket and “fasten your seatbelt”.
Good to know: Since the balloon moves with the wind rather than rocking on its own, motion sickness is not an issue.
Usually, the hot air balloons have enough space and are divided into four compartments for a total of 12 to 16 guests, ensuring increased safety and plenty of room for everyone, as well as breathtaking views!
Once all passengers are settled inside, the experienced pilot is ready for takeoff!
He’ll gently warm up the balloon until it rises gracefully into the air, where you’ll soon witness an incredible sunrise that perfectly illuminates the Serengeti plains.
It is truly an exhilarating yet serene experience! As you float over the vast Serengeti landscapes in this hovering vessel, there is no turbulence or loud engine noise to disturb this atmosphere; just you (and a dozen other guests) enjoying this bird’s eye view of the animals below, along with the captivating sunrise ahead.
During a balloon safari in the Serengeti, there is an abundance of wildlife to observe. With a little luck, you may see a pride of lions, graceful giraffes, a majestic procession of elephants crossing the vast plains, diverse hyenas, vibrant birds and numerous species of plains game, including wildebeest, topi, zebra and other antelopes.
The altitude during the flight varies from controlled heights of about 300 meters above ground level to skimming the treetops for panoramic views of the Serengeti terrain. On average, flights last approximately one hour, but depending on weather conditions and finding suitable landing sites, flights may be slightly longer or shorter than 60 minutes. It’s worth noting that any flights over 40 minutes will be charged at full price.
The opportunity to view the Serengeti from above is truly unforgettable and will leave you with a lasting impression.
What to Bring on a Hot Air Balloon Safari
What items should you include on your packing list for a Serengeti balloon safari adventure? It is highly recommended that you dress appropriately for the safari experience. This includes comfortable footwear and a lightweight windproof jacket or sweater for the cooler mornings.
Don’t forget to pack a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. While wearing a hat may not be ideal during the balloon ride itself, it will come in handy during the delicious bush breakfasts.
Speaking of which, bush breakfasts are an absolute must on an African safari. They offer an incredible opportunity to enjoy delicious food amidst the breathtaking scenery of the vast Serengeti plains.
Also, be sure to bring binoculars so you can get up close and personal with wildlife and capture amazing moments with your smartphone or camera. The Serengeti offers countless opportunities for video and photography from high above in a hot air balloon! Maybe you want to take a small camera bag with personal belongings with you, which you can secure to the bottom of the basket. But keep in mind, that there isn’t much room on board to store bags on the floor during the flight, so choose wisely what you bring.
You might expect the morning to be chilly as you float high in the sky, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find it’s not cold! The hot air balloon glides effortlessly with the wind, eliminating the possibility of a chilly breeze. In addition, the balloon itself is “heated,” which guarantees a comforting warmth that envelops you.
As you rise above the magnificent Serengeti plains, the surrounding air also gradually warms. So there’s no need to bundle up.
When Should you Book your Serengeti Balloon Flight?
When is the best time to book your hot air balloon adventure in the Serengeti? It’s highly recommended that you secure your spot in the Serengeti skies as soon as you confirm your visit. Ballooning is incredibly popular, and availability is limited. We recommend booking early to ensure a smooth experience.
Continue the Safari Afterwards
Continue your morning with another game-viewing session. You could have lunch in nature and return in the late evening to enjoy a leisurely African dinner.
The following day, after breakfast, you continue with a Game drive in Ndutu plains – famous worldwide as it hosts one of the largest mammal migrations. Witnessing over 400,000 calves being born during peak season is awe-inspiring!
You will have delightful morning and afternoon game drives across endless Serengeti plains, which are home to an extraordinary concentration of wildlife, including wildebeest herds, zebras, gazelles, lions lounging in acacia trees…the list goes on! The Serengeti plains boast all members of Africa’s Big Five and millions of zebras, birds, and other predators.
Serengeti National Park is famous for its vast herds of plains animals such as wildebeests, gazelles, and zebras. It remains the only place in Africa where large-scale land-animal migrations still occur. This park has become an international tourist attraction and was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1981. As for the lack of trees in the Serengeti, it’s mostly endless plains; however, there are some “sausage trees” that elephants and giraffes feed on.
Note that the park faces several management concerns, including poaching, tourism impact, wildfires, and inadequate resource monitoring capacity. Water scarcity is another significant challenge due to having only one perennial river (Mara) spanning borders.
Various factors threaten the ecosystem of Serengeti National Park, such as industrialization, human population growth, farming, and poaching – endangering both wildlife species and local communities residing near the park boundaries. Human-wildlife conflicts, population increase, poverty, and unsustainable development projects also contribute to these challenges.