Monday, April 19, 2010

From the balloons' pocket...

Leonardo da Vinci once said: “ For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.

I would not believe this true of sitting in an airplane, but it certainly is of the hot air balloon ride I experienced on my Easter trip with Serengeti Balloon Safaris.

Waking up at 2am under a blanket of stars with the bush babies calling (…alright, I am trying to make this sound lovely, but no one likes waking up this early so fast forward the three hour drive to sunrise over the central balloon launch site…) Huddled tightly in our basket compartments the propane gas spews hot golden flames. The roar is immense. Lazily the gold and green giant fills its belly with warm air and we begin rocking, lazily tipping upright to reveal silhouetted acacias before us.

Slowly rising above the dewy grass, we stood up excitedly to look over the endless plains from our spectacular vantage point. Shadows danced behind the trees as we rose with the sun. We passed over trees by a few feet, waking a secretary bird on its perch and greeting a vulture that left its nest revealing two eggs. Further on we passed over dozens of hippos waking up in their leafy pools below, whilst a herd of impala dodged two raucous males jousting for supremacy. A little early we laughed. To the left a reedbuck raced as she thought she was being chased by our shadow.

Apart from the occasional burst of flame to lift us a few hundred feet and excited whispers, it was quite surreal.

After an exhilarating landing we were treated to champagne and then ushered to breakfast under an umbrella acacia in the middle of nowhere. The delicious food, more champagne, and chatter around the breakfast table concluded our adventure in the sky before we set of for the days driving…and I will turn my eyes skyward, where I have been, and where long to return…


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