FLYING OVER THE MARA

"We're way beyond the boundary of the Pride Lands (Zazu)"

The air experience

The next morning, we had our once in a lifetime balloon ride over the Maasai Mara.

As Maasai Mara Park was not open the general public only & only licenced drivers were allowed to go in, so we were picked up by another driver, Peter from our lodges at 4am. It was still pitch black outside and we were excited but still half asleep. It was freezing cold and all we wanted was a lovely hot coffee to warm us up.

We picked up other clients on the way and then headed inside the park to where the hot air balloon took off. It had been raining the night before, so the ground was pretty wet, we needed to be careful where we were walking with the help of the vehicle's headlights. We had done our checks to make sure we weren't carrying anything to heavy on us. Then we were hurried back into the 4x4, confused, we all rushed back inside and  were driven only a short distance, the driver excitedly pointed and whispered "look over there". We all looked out the window and that is when we saw a lone cheetah with his kill in the middle of the road. Unfortunately, we had to rush back but it was such a fantastic sight and we were definitely awake now! Adrenaline rushing, we were ready for the morning ahead.

Time to fly!

Excited much?

We drove back to where the the deflated hot air balloon we had left moments ago was slowly being raised. After another quick check, we were put into groups of two. We shared our ride with a grandma and her grandson & another couple, we shared our pleasantries.

We were escorted over to our balloon. There was this basket laying on the ground and inside it was covered with lovely fabric that separated into 4 large compartments. Each of these was split into two. We looked at each other and thought that's weird how do we get in? Then we were told we needed to climb in but lay down as though you are laying on the ground. The first couple had to climb at the top first, then it was our turn. Both our heads was on the ground and above us were the heads of the couple. I did not what to expect! But just like that, there was a massive noise, I felt the welcomed heat of the fire to raise the balloon up and all of a sudden we were upstanding and inside our own compartments. We all looked each other and laughed and were ready for this magical experience across the Mara.

It was scary at first but once we were high enough, it was so exhilarating, it was as expected if not better! We strike up a conversation with the pilot, as he had English accent. We found out that he lives not to far from us and he has been in Kenya doing balloon rides for a while.

We enjoyed the sites from the sky and the amazing vast Savanna of the Maasai Mara. We saw the sunrise, it was the most beautiful thing you could ever experience while in the air. Just when you thought this experience was not going to get any better, we saw a hyena kill from the air. We also saw the path that the zebra's and wildebeest have created.

All good things have to come to an end

Onto the next adventure

After a wonderful hour of riding through the Mara, it was now time to land. That was another experience in itself. The Hot Air Balloon landed on a truck as the ground was quite wet, we climbed out and stepped straight into a puddle of mud. We then go back into our 4x4 and drive to a short distance where there was a beautiful spread of all kinds of fruits and finger food. People were already sat down and eating.  As we go to find our group, we were greeted by the Maasai men dressed in traditional gear and serving Prosecco. We thought its bit early but hey we are holiday! We had breakfast in the middle of the Maasai Mara, what more could we ask for. Each of us received a certificate to say that we had participated in the Hot Air Balloon ride in the Maasai Mara.

Smelling animals?

Another talent of a Maasai Warrior

Our driver, Peter came to pick us up for our afternoon drive. It was our last drive in Massai Mara and we were disappointed that we never got to see a Male Lion up close. Our driver turned to us and said I smell a Lion, I asked him to repeat what he had said as I thought I heard him wrong and before I could finish my sentence. There they were, 4 male lions slumbered inside a bush taking their afternoon nap. I was soo surprised and happy that I didn't even get a chance to take a photo. There were so many questions in my head, how the heck did he find them, no radio, no other cars are here and they were fully hidden inside the bush. Once we were back on track Peter told us that all animals have their own scents. Lions are dirty,  so they smell muddy and Hippos smell of potatoes. The Massai warriors learn this at a young age as they have to live in the Mara in order for them to become a Maasai. I was sold and fascinated at the Maasai tribe and had even more appreciation for them.

"Everything you see exists together, in a delicate balance. As king, you need to understand the balance, and have respect all the creatures-- from the crawling ant to the leaping antelope" (Mufasa)