Up and away over the Serengeti
One of the most magically memorable of the Serengeti experiences, a balloon safari allows you to drift in silence above the splendour of the plains, to dip down to visit the hippo pools of the Grumeti River, and to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the wildlife theatre as it is enacted below you.
Awakened by an early-morning cup of tea (around 5.30 am) you will be driven to the balloon take-off point, where you will meet your fully-qualified balloon pilot and watch as the team inflates the vast rainbow-coloured balloon. As dawn breaks, the balloon slowly rights itself, the guests are helped into the wicker basket (a typical balloon carries around 8 passengers and is equipped with seats and safety belts), the sandbags are cast off, and the balloon rises majestically into the cool of the morning air.
Driven by the wind, and guided by jets of hot air from the gas-burners (which allow it to rise or fall according to the pilot’s direction), the balloon will fly for a period of around 45 minutes (trailed by a team of ground vehicles). Eventually, it descends to a gentle controlled-landing on the plains. To celebrate, the ground crew offer the guests a glass of chilled champagne, while the pilot prepares their personal ‘flight certificates’. Later, everyone sits down to a full English breakfast, which is traditionally cooked on the burners of the balloon. After breakfast, guests can enjoy a leisurely game drive back to the lodge
Guided Walks and Bird Watching
To really appreciate the wonders of the African bush, you have to leave the safari vehicle behind; and take a walk. Slow in pace and wide-ranging in scenery, the Serengeti nature walk is designed to offer gentle exercise and a fascinating insight into the world of African trees, flowers, insects, reptiles, birds and animals.
Tanzania offers more than 1,000 species of birds, half of which can be seen in the Serengeti. Most commonly spotted are the Masai ostrich and Kori bustard and, on the lakes, the lesser flamingo.
Endemic to the park are the Fischer’s lovebird, the rufous-tailed weaver and the grey-breasted spurfowl. Migrant species are present between October and April and include white storks, rollers, cuckoos, swallows, Montague’s and pallid harriers and Caspian plovers.
For the amateur and serious ornithologist alike, a range of half or full day outings are on offer which can be custom-tailored to the interests of your ornithological party. The services of a professional ornithologist and up-to-date bird checklists are included, and picnics, bush lunches, camp suppers and sundowners can be scheduled to suit your needs.
Safari vehicles offer comfort, panoramic viewing, dedicated safari guides, refreshments on-board and radio-links for fast location of game. Traditionally, game-drives take place early morning (you are woken with tea and arrive back in time for breakfast) or late afternoon. They can also be timed to coincide with sundowners in the bush.
The vast and sensational Serengeti, covering 14,763 sq km of endlessly rolling savannah plains, is Tanzania’s first-established, largest and most famous park wherein tens of thousands of hoofed animals roam in a constant and unremitting search for the fresh grasslands upon which their survival depends.
Here, the million-plus wildebeest are the predominant herbivore and also the main prey of a huge cast of large carnivores, principally lion and hyena.
Whilst the annual migration is the Serengeti’s most famous attraction, the Park is also renowned for its lion, many of which have been fitted with radio-transmitter collars so that their movements may be tracked, and additionally for its wealth of cheetah, zebra, giraffe, Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle, eland, impala, klipspringer, hippo and warthog.