Private travel &
conservation club
Members only
Established 1991
×
SEARCH OUR STORIES
OR
SEARCH OUR SAFARIS
AND / OR
Africa Geographic Travel

Written by: Patrick Tillard

As we rise from the ground, the inky-darkness of night begins to give way to the first hint of morning teasing the wide Kenyan sky, gently spraying a golden hue across the western escarpment of the Maasai Mara and Great Rift Valley.

hot-air-balloon-maasai-mara-kenya

Within seconds I appreciate that piloting a hot air balloon is both an art and a science in equal measure. Clearing the initial line of tall olive trees, the wicker basket just inches from the gnarled branches. We start low, skimming the contours of the land before a roar of the burner lifts us over the forest.

hot-air-balloon-maasai-mara balloon-above-maasai-mara

Working 20 seconds ahead to pre-empt every move, the pilot judges each ascent to perfection, with foliage so close that we could have reached out and plucked leaves from their stems. Buffalo herds graze the long red oat grass, a black rhino stampedes along the banks of the Mara river before disappearing into the bush, hyenas slink back towards their dens, and vultures pounce on leftovers from the night’s hunting successes.

hot-air-balloon-mara

Drifting into the vast plains of the Mara Triangle, the pilot fires up all four canisters and we tower skywards as if a helium balloon had been released from a child’s grip. From 600ft up, you gain some true perspective. It is easy to understand how world-renowned photographer and environmentalist, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, discovered his life’s calling while working as a balloon pilot in Kenya: to showcase the world’s beauty from above and to highlight the impact of mankind.

above-balloon-maasai-mara

Up where martial eagle’s soar the sheer enormity of the Maasai Mara is clear to see – a cosmos so vast that even elephants, the domineering emblems of Africa, are meagre dots; tiny organisms within the immense landscape. Gazing out across this intoxicating Eden, as far as the curvature of Earth allows, I realise that I have barely scratched the surface.

For accommodation options at the best prices, visit our collection of camps and lodges: private travel & conservation club. If you are not yet a member, see how to JOIN below this story.

above-maasai-mara

To comment on this story please join our PRIVATE TRAVEL & CONSERVATION CLUB. See details below.


HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF AFRICA GEOGRAPHIC:

  • Join our private travel & conservation club (mobile app and desktop) to enjoy significant benefits, including the best prices at Africa’s top lodges and networking with others like you. Find out more here.
  • Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to enjoy more stories like this. Subscribe here.
  • Travel with us. Travel in Africa is about knowing when and where to go, and with whom. A few weeks too early / late and a few kilometres off course and you could miss the greatest show on Earth. And wouldn’t that be a pity? Search for your ideal safari here, or contact an Africa Geographic safari consultant to plan your dream vacation.

In the Guest Blogger profile, you'll see fresh and exciting content from a range of contributors who have submitted their content to us on a once-off or temporary basis, including press releases, campaigns and exciting adventure and travel tales!

Africa Geographic Travel