In September 2019, our two colleagues Anne Mette and Louise went on a study tour to Tanzania and Zanzibar. The balloon safari is one of the many experiences that they’ll never forget!
The rays of the sun radiate the most wonderful shades of orange and red as they gently rise from the horizon. There’s a chill to the air and a buzz of tension and the joy of anticipation between us as we stand watching the balloon being inflated. The feeling of gliding across the savannah is magical. The air is chilly, the sounds are muffled and the animals pass beneath us, largely unaware of the fact that they are being observed from above. We see the savannah landscapes and its impressive wildlife from a completely different angle.
We got up really early, and the drive to the balloon site took place in the dark. So dark, in fact, that we didn’t even notice the hippo grazing at the roadside until the guide stopped the car. We didn’t see many animals apart from that, but it didn’t matter, because once up in the hot air balloon, we saw such incredible diversity, starting with a prowling hyena. We could hear the grunting of the hippos before reaching the other side of the river. They were all huddled up together and looked like boulders.
The silence above the Serengeti plain was absolutely stunning, occasionally interrupted by the sound of the gas burner inflating the balloon. We gently span around so everyone in the basket could see the animals. Everyone was on the look-out and enjoying the beautiful colours cast by the sunrise across the landscape. Each time an animal was spotted, it was announced in almost a whisper as the silence was a welcome break from the bumpy and dusty jeep rides of the previous days.
The highlight came when we heard that there were lions ahead. We couldn’t see anything due to the big tree ahead, but everyone had their eyes peeled, their cameras and binoculars at the ready. As soon as we passed the tree, we saw three male lions busy devouring a zebra. The females and cubs were waiting patiently around the noisy male lions. An incredible sight so early in the morning.
The landing was calmer than expected, and our English skipper also steered us safely around termite mounds and trees.
After landing, a lovely glass of champagne awaited us in the middle of Serengeti before we drove for breakfast. Under a tall tree filled with bird nests, three long tables were laid with green tablecloths and tableware. The waiters were ready to serve a full English breakfast, which we enjoyed in the scenic surroundings washed down with lashings of champagne!
We raised a toast to a successful morning of new experiences and even more sightings of animals – we’ll never forget those lions! It was an extravagant morning but one that will stay with us forever!
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