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Crisscrossing Mara-Serengeti ecosystem aboard hot air balloon is dream come true

Serengeti Balloon Safaris recently successfully tested the world’s first trans-Serengeti ballooning expedition with Kate Humble

THURSDAY November 30, 2023 

Serengeti Balloon Safaris is the first company to set a balloon aloft over the vast plains of Serengeti since 1989 before the firm recently extended its wings to Ruaha National Park in the Tanzania’s southern tourism circuit. PHOTOS | COURTESY

By Adam Ihucha 

The Tranquillity News Correspondent, Tanzania 

When it comes to once-in-a-lifetime experience that takes you deep into the soul of nature, few can rival the breath-taking adventure of hot air balloon safari in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.

The journey from the sky by balloon offers an unparalleled opportunity for immersing oneself into the enchanting world of the majestic Serengeti National Park.

This is a key message from the crew who have successfully accomplished the World’s first trans-Serengeti hot-air ballooning expedition with the world distinguished television presenter-cum- conservationist, Kate Humble.

“Captain Abeid and I were honoured to fly across Serengeti from East to West like this, we flew over parts of this park that even I haven’t seen in 22 years of flying hot air balloons over Serengeti,”’ Captain Mohamed Masudi exclaims.

Kate Humble is an English television presenter, narrator and writer, mainly working for the BBC, specialising in wildlife and science programmes, books and articles.

A balloon’s basket in which the pilot and passengers stand is made of woven wicker and leather, reinforced with stainless steel and Lexan sheeting.

Humble served as president of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) between 2009 and 2013.

The renowned TV presenter-cum-conservationist, along with a select few clients, joined an expert crew from Serengeti Balloon Safaris to undertake a world’s first expedition, traversing the entire Serengeti from East to West by hot air balloon.

On November 1, 2023, the expedition team arrived in Serengeti and departed from Eastern Serengeti’s Nyabogati area and then, for over five consecutive days, flew westwards before landing on a football pitch in a remote village on the shores of Lake Victoria.

One can imagine an incredible reception that greeted them from the community that had never seen the spectacle of a hot air balloon.

“Each morning the team flew for two hours to make the distance and complete the journey in time,” the Serengeti Balloon Safaris Marketing Manager, Mr Pascal Kirigiti, says.

The basic principles behind a hot air balloon are simple yet effective. By controlling the temperature of the air inside the envelope, the pilot can control the altitude of the balloon and navigate the skies. It’s a unique and serene way to experience flight and enjoy breathtaking views from above.

The team made the most of the steady morning weather conditions, taking off just before dawn and enjoying the magical Serengeti landscape from the air, traversing over unseen areas and hidden corners of the wilderness.

Upon landing, the team was joined by the Wilderness Wayo expert walking guides each day as they continued on foot to their mobile Wayo camps, which moved along with the expedition team.

Owing to exceedingly high rainfall on their penultimate day, the team was forced backwards, obliging them to extend the expedition’s itinerary by one day to complete the journey and land on the shores of Lake Victoria.

“Such are the challenges of being entirely reliant on weather,” says Mr Kirigiti.

This light footprint adventure offered a totally unique perspective of this famous park, and on the way, the team met resident conservationists and scientists who are undoubtedly the modern heroes of this fabled land.

Katherine Mary Humble, BBC English television presenter and narrator specialised in wildlife and science programmes, joined the Serengeti Balloon Safaris team of experts in testing the world’s first trans-Serengeti ecosystem expedition. PHOTO | BBC

Friend of Serengeti Balloon Safaris Kate Humble, who along with her award-winning producer husband Ludo Graham captured the magic of the adventure on a camera to make some stunning marketing video clips, as well as compelling articles for major UK and international travel and adventure publications.

A select number of paying clients also joined the expedition, which partnered with Far & Wild Travel, Aardvark Safaris and sabbatical travel company, LiNGER.

This expedition was effectively a test flight for Serengeti Balloon Safaris who are looking to expand the ballooning ‘journeys’ into 2024 with the launch of a repeat trans-Serengeti ecosystem journey planned for October 2024.

John Corse, MD of Serengeti Balloon Safaris commented: “On behalf of all of the Serengeti Balloon Safaris team, we are thrilled with the result from this first trans-Serengeti test flight.

“It fulfilled a long-term dream of mine to traverse the entire Serengeti ecosystem by air and I have to say the experience was second to none.

The Managing Director of Serengeti Balloon Safaris, Mr John Course, invites travel and tourism agents from the market sources to experience Destination Tanzania aboard a hot air balloon. PHOTO | FILE

“The feeling of adventure combined with the total peace and tranquility of multiple balloon flights was incredibly special. We look forward to sharing this experience with others in the future.”

Mr Corse invites travel and tourism agents from the market sources to experience Destination Tanzania he referred to as a precious gem whose beauty is unconcealed especially when viewed aboard a balloon.

Since its inception over three decades ago, Serengeti Balloon Safaris boasts flying over 250,000 tourists to experience a different taste of Serengeti National Park.

“Tanzania is home to such fabulous natural areas and seeing them from the air is a true privilege,” Mr Corse, saysΩ

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