This was our first ride in a balloon, and I loved it! Steve was just “ho hum”.
The basket is on its side for loading, and you are in “astronaut position” for takeoff and landing.
That’s our heads/hats you see near this end of the balloon. We were supposed to stay seated after the balloon righted, until our pilot told us it was ok to stand up. We were the second of two balloons taking off that morning.
We didn’t have a clear sky for sunrise, but the light later in the morning was sure pretty.
In case you’re wondering, balloons are usually flown in the morning when winds are calmest. The pilot has to essentially go where the winds blow, but can change elevation to catch potentially slower or faster winds, or even somewhat different directions. There was some kind of pocket at the bottom of the canopy that our pilot could control, so that the basket was able to turn:
As you could hear, the flame blasts were really loud, and we found that they really scared the animals on the ground. We definitely didn’t sneak up on them, and in fact, a herd of elephants below us trumpeted loudly and ran off into the forest, terrified.
Not necessarily the peaceful floating I envisioned. Overall, however, the entire hour’s ride passed in a flash for me, and I just loved the sensation.
We generally followed the Grumeti river in Western Serengeti -
…and when we dropped down some, I found an interesting set of tracks:
We landed in a clearing that a herd of buffalo had recently evacuated:
This is moonset one morning -
…in contrast to the same morning’s sunrise:
This is the interesting tale of that day -
Our guide got the report that there were a pair of lions mating, so we headed in that direction. On our arrival, we found:
Our guide informed us that lions will mate 400 times over the 4 days they’re together. So we waited.
After an hour (when other vehicles came, watched and waited, and left) we saw the male get up and were hopeful…
He just wanted a sunbath.
He then came back and showed off for her:
…but he was tired -
…and she wasn’t very impressed -
So we waited, and waited…
Over 3 hours after we had settled in, we got this video:
Darn. We must have caught them on the fourth day.
Now, I must include pictures of the primates we saw. First, the Black-and-White Colobus Monkey (we first saw them in the tops of the trees along the river as we soared over) -
Vervet (or Black-faced) Monkey:
and last, but least, Olive Baboons. First, creepy old man -
very young one -
…and of course, The End.