Frequently Asked Questions About Ballooning In Maasai Mara : This article lists some of the frequently asked questions about Hot air balloon rides in Maasai Mara national reserve.
WHEN IS THE BALLOON RIDE DONE?
Hot air balloon ride in Maasai Mara is normally done early in the morning at approximately 06:30 am in time to enjoy the sunrise as it glows in the distant horizon. The Mara weather is conducive for the balloon rides which enable them to be operated daily throughout the year, the launch site for balloon safaris is situated close to Talek River bordering Maasai Mara national reserve. However during the windy time, the balloon ride is launched inside the reserve approximately 7 minutes-drive (4 kilometers) from Talek Gate just off the main Talek – Keekorok road.
HOW LONG DOES THE EXCURSION LAST?
Balloon flight usually lasts approximately one hour and covers between 5 and 20 kilometers from launch to landing, the distance covered is also dependent on the wind conditions on any given day. The entire excursion from pick up at the camp or lodge to drop off back to the camp or lodge varies from departure of 4.00 am to departure of 6.00 am, depending on the close location of the lodge or camp you are staying at.
The excursion offer plenty of photographic opportunities while on board and also on the ground to and from the balloon excursion including game drive en-route back to your camp/ lodge around 10:30 am.
IS THERE A MINIMUM AGE/MOBILITY RESTRICTIONS?
According to the rules and regulations governing hot air balloon excursions, children who are under the height of the basket or under the age of 3 years do not fly. There is no upper age limit provided passengers are reasonably fit and ready to enjoy the adventurous soaring across the majestic plains.
For the safety of the clients, ballooning is not suitable for pregnant ladies, person with health conditions such as heart matters, brittle bones, neck or back conditions. Any balloon flight requires a certain amount of physical strength to climb in / out of the basket, in case the basket is standing upright or lying on the side. People with impaired mobility may be accommodated with prior notice to help us plan for them.
WHAT SHOULD I BRING WITH ME?
Visitors going a hot air balloon ride in Maasai Mara national reserve, you are encouraged to carry binoculars, cameras and a self – stick to catch the very fine once- in – a life – time moments.
Dressing layers should include warm jackets which are best for the transition from the cool, dark early morning to the relatively late morning sunrays. It is normally cool in the early mornings as you watch and wait for the balloons to be inflated, the chilly morning breeze can be unconformable.
Once on board, the heat from burners above make all around you warm, other clothes to carry include trousers, long sleeved shirts/ tops and closed shoes in case you need to walk through some grass after landing.
HOW DOES THE PILOT CONTROL THE BALLOON?
Note that the hot air rises
The balloon normally glides with the wid but at different altitudes the wind often flows in different directions, by expertly navigating this vertical landscape the pilot finds some directional control. In order to gain or lose altitude, the pilot manipulates the temperature of the air inside the balloon envelope using burners fueled by butane gas.
When heat is added, the balloon gently rises. In order to descend the pilot allows the balloon to cool naturally, the cooler the air inside the balloon becomes the more quickly it descends. As the balloon descends and approaches for landing the pilot will add some bursts of heat from the burners to slow down the rate of descent and ensure landing is safely done with the expertise of a Mara pilot.
ARE TAKE-OFFS AND LANDINGS ROUGH?
Hot balloon take offs are generally gentle, it may be a bit fast in windy conditions. If the wind is above 15 knots at the take – off site, we will not fly due to safety concerns. While most of the landing along the ground for the some meters before coming to a stop lying on its side. There are a few bumpy landings though, all steered safely to a stop.
DO YOU EVER CANCEL A FLIGHT? WHAT HAPPENS IF MY FLIGHT IS CANCELED?
Rarely hot balloon rides are canceled, and they are only canceled due to high winds, rain or extremely poor visibility. If your flight is canceled you will receive a 100% refund or if your safari schedule allows and there is available space in the balloon. Preparations will be made so that you fly the following day.
HOW MANY PEOPLE FIT IN THE BASKET?
Balloons in Maasai Mara can hold a maximum of 16 people in a basket.