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Ruaha National Park Hot Air Balloon Safari Tanzania: One of the most tranquil wildlife viewing experiences has to be going on a hot air balloon safari where you float over the flat landscape which teems with wildlife, notably giraffes and hippos, impalas, and warthogs.
Hot air balloon rides are accessible as an activity if you are on a safari in the Ruaha National Park. Ruaha Hot Air Balloon flies above the majestic scenery and wildlife of Ruaha, mostly flying over the Ruaha River and its adjacent plains.
0500 Hours: You will be picked up at around 0500 Hours and driven to the launch site near Msembe Airstrip, ready for take-off just before sunrise (around 0600 hours). Our early morning balloon ride is launched east of Msembe, between junction R23 and the river Ruaha which provides the only permanent water source in the area.
Therefore, the wildlife congregates in the valley with many resident species. The open plains, acacia woodlands, the meandering river, and its many hippo pools all produce a scenic vista seen from above.
Guests meet 20 minutes prior to sunrise at the launch site and enjoy a hot cup of tea or coffee as the hot air balloon is prepared for it its early morning flight. A safety briefing on the do’s and dont’s of hot air balloon flying is given to all passengers and then it’s up into the sky.
In the pre-dawn, your balloon safari adventure begins as you leave your lodge or camp. It is still dark and there’s the chance you might glimpse a leopard or another nocturnal hunter on your way to the launch site.
The anticipation and excitement build as you meet your pilot and watch the balloon being inflated as the sky lightens. After a thorough safety briefing and demonstration of boarding and landing position, you board your balloon.
Rising as the sun rises, your balloon floats in whatever direction the winds of the day are heading, over this land of baobabs and granite kopjes. Using varying altitudes and layers of air to navigate, your pilot will skillfully guide the balloon.
Each day is different, some of the flights may be low and at other times your balloon may climb to 1,000 feet or more. Nobody can predict, no two flights are ever the same and your balloon safari will be unique. Eventually, after around one hour, depending on conditions, we must land.
Ruaha Balloon lands somewhere near the Ruaha/ Mwagusi River confluence, after a variety of low and high flying. We celebrate in the traditional manner with an excellent sparkling wine before sitting down to a full English breakfast prepared and served in the bush in “Out of Africa” style, complete with bone china, linen table cloth, and Sheffield cutlery.
Replete with breakfast and enduring memories, Ruaha Balloon Safaris Certificate in hand, you’ll rejoin your safari guide to continue the day’s activities.
Ruaha National Park Hot Air Balloon Safari Tanzania Prices
|Price Per Adult
|Price Per Child (7 to 12 Years)
|1st January 2022
|31st January 2022
* Maximum group size: The balloon baskets can carry up to 12 passengers at a time
* Duration of excursion: Around 3 hours. The balloon flight lasts for roughly an hour and is followed by a bush breakfast
* Children under the age of seven years old are not permitted. Passengers must be reasonably mobile and fit to fly
* There is no maximum age, though passengers must be relatively fit and able to climb in and out of the basket, hold on to rope handles and bend their knees. Ballooning is not recommended for anyone with health or mobility issues, or for pregnant women
* Pick-up points for passengers include: Ruaha River Lodge, Mdonya Old River Camp, Kwihala, Jabali Ridge, Ikuka Safari Camp, Kigelia Camp, Mwagusi Camp, TANAPA Bandas, Msembe Public Campsites, TANAPA Cottages, and the entrance gate for camps outside Ruaha National Park
* The balloons are Cameron & UltraMagic A340, A450, and N415, and are colored acacia green and Savannah gold. The burners are state-of-the-art ‘whisper & stealth’
Ruaha National Park Hot Air Balloon Safari Tanzania Itinerary
0500 Hours: Wake up before dawn with a quick cup of tea or coffee and a snack before setting off on your balloon adventure. Wrap up warm and enjoy the drive to the launch site in the dark, as you may be lucky enough to encounter some nocturnal animals.
0630 Hours: On arrival at the launch site, meet your pilot and watch as your balloon is inflated ready for lift-off. Launch as dawn is breaking, rise up in the sky as the sun rises. Witness the magnificent spectacle as darkness lifts, the sky is painted orange and the ground’s silhouette begins to take form.
Float along the vast plains, following the whims of the wind, watching the mighty herds below. The launch site is in a fixed location, however, the landing site is always an added adventure, for everyone, as it is determined solely on the wind direction and speed.
Your pilot uses various altitudes and air layers to navigate the balloon across the rolling plains. Each flight is novel. Go from skimming the tall grass to just missing the flat tabletops of the acacias trees, to soaring high above the plains at 1000 feet in the land of eagles and vultures.
Fly over areas inaccessible to vehicles. Appreciate the awesome vistas as you float silently above the undisturbed game. No two flights are ever the same, making for a really magical experience. The flight usually lasts for about an hour, depending on the conditions.
0730 Hours – 0745 Hours: Celebrate your landing in the traditional way, with some chilled champagne before heading off to a celebratory bush breakfast. Indulge in fresh fruit and a freshly cooked breakfast complete with crisp tablecloth, bone china, and shiny silverware, in the company of your fellow passengers.
0915 Hours: A fitting finale to the morning. After a leisurely breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the rendezvous point to meet your guide to continue on a game drive back to camp.
Ruaha National Park Hot Air Balloon Safari Tanzania Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I need to book in advance?
We strongly recommend that you book in advance with African Spice Safaris to secure your spot. We have limited capacity and this exclusive adventure is frequently fully booked.
2. How much does it cost?
Request for rates at the time of booking to enjoy a discount. Prices are inclusive of all fees & taxes. The balloon safari price may vary due to exchange rates, local taxes etc.
3. When is the best time of year for ballooning in Serengeti?
We are fortunate that the weather in Ruaha National Park is suitable for ballooning almost every day of the year.
4. What about the ‘rainy seasons’?
The ‘long rains’ (late March to early June) & the ‘short rains’ (November to mid-December). The great migration passes through Central Serengeti during the green seasons.
At these times it USUALLY rains late afternoon and during the night. Mornings are USUALLY bright and clear with gentle winds (ideal ballooning weather!). The landscape is lush, green, and dust-free (yes, your vehicle may get stuck in the mud – but our balloon won’t!)
5. Do you operate year-round?
Yes, we operate daily throughout the year in central Serengeti. We operate from Ruaha east of Msembe, between junction R23 and the river Ruaha
6. Are there any restrictions?
Yes, we do not carry children under the age of 7 years. There is no upper age limit, however, passengers must be reasonably mobile, fit to fly, and prepared for an adventure.
Ballooning is not suitable for pregnant ladies, people with mobility, or health conditions (heart conditions, brittle bones, neck or back conditions). Passengers must be able to bend their knees, hold on to rope handles with both hands for take-off and landing, and be able to climb into and out of the basket.
Balloon passenger weights are calculated at an average of 80 kg. Passengers weighing 50% + more than this (i.e. 120 kg / 265 lbs / 19 stone) may be charged for two places.
7. I am on an organized safari with a set itinerary. Can I do this?
Yes, as long as you are staying at any of the Hotels, lodges, or camps in Ruaha National Park or near Ruaha National Park. We collect you before the flight from your lodge/ camp in early morning and return you to the rendezvous point at 0945 hours to join the rest of your party & continue your day’s activities
8. What should I wear? What should I bring?
It can be cool in the early morning, but often warm later, therefore a jacket or sweater that can be removed later is a good idea. A hat is recommended (bald guests) as radiant heat from the burners can be uncomfortable.
We suggest long trousers, long sleeves, preferably in natural fibers and stout shoes. Don’t forget your camera and binoculars. You can bring a camera bag or a small backpack with you in the balloon.
9. Why is ballooning expensive?
Balloons baskets cost the same as a big Mercedes but only last a few hundred hours. They use a significant amount of fuel per flight and involve a minimum crew of 6 men plus a professional pilot to get it in the air plus a further 10 employees behind the scenes for each balloon.
In addition, there are the retrieving vehicles, logistics, backup, etc. We operate in a remote area. There is a very substantial sum in the form of concession fees for every passenger to Tanzania National Parks towards conservation funds.