Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park offers an amazing diversity of wildlife viewing opportunities, from game drives and boat safaris, to walking and primate treks. Visitors can now add hot air ballooning to that list.
Enjoy flying at an altitude range from tree tops up to 2,500 feet, where you can get panoramic views and great photos of the park’s unique scenery and wildlife.
The hot air balloon safari provides a complete sensory experience that starts before sunrise near the Kasenyi gate. Watch the balloon being inflated as you listen to the sounds of the savanna waking. Inhale the fresh dawn air while you sample coffee, tea and refreshments prior to your flight.
Up in the air, you’ll get a perspective on the park unlike any other. Observe herds of wildebeest or antelopes traveling en masse. Hover above elephants. See the interactions of the park’s various ecosystems – forest, savannah, and delta.
After landing, enjoy a celebration with sparkling juice and a full English bush breakfast. There’s nothing quite like dining out in the open savannah, where you can watch nature as you get ready for the rest of your day.
Both children and adults are welcome to enjoy this new offering in Uganda. Please email Ujuzi for more information.
Viewing the wildebeest migration from the basket of a hot air balloon was the capstone of Becky Raab’s Ujuzi safari to Tanzania. On the last morning of her 10-day trip, she arose at about 3 a.m., had a light snack, and set off with her friends and family to watch the inflation of the balloon. By dawn, she and her companions were in the basket, ready to rise above the Serengeti along with the sun.
“Being above all the animals and seeing the herds of wildebeest was truly an incredible experience,” she says. Soaring above the treetops, the balloon gave her a completely different perspective on the Serengeti than her land-based travels of the previous days had.
After flying high for a while, her group spotted a pool of hippos. The pilot lowered the balloon until it was hovering above the water, giving Becky and her companions the closest view of these great creatures that they’d had on their trip. Then they ascended for more panoramic views of the plains. “We got some really cool photos,” Becky says. (You can view some of the group’s pictures in the slideshow below.)
At the end of the hour-long excursion, the balloon landed softly on the earth and the group celebrated with a champagne toast, followed by a traditional English breakfast at a linen-covered table near the landing site. “It was really nice to have breakfast in the Serengeti in this big open space,” Becky recalls.
Joyce Bulgrin, one of the friends who went with Becky on the safari, called the balloon excursion “the perfect ending to a fantastic trip.”
Becky agrees. “It was the busiest day we had on the trip, but also the most remarkable.”
Boat trips are a great way to see safari animals from a different perspective. Game abound as they come to refresh themselves and drink from the source of life. Get eye-to-eye with a hippo, come close to wading water buffalos without worrying that they might charge, and watch elephants swim across deep channels. Boat and canoe trips can give you access to remote islands, isolated beaches, and other areas that you can get to no other way. Here is a sampling of just some of the few boating options available on Ujuzi safaris:
Arusha National Park, Tazania
One of the favorite activities within the park is canoeing on the small lake. Water buffalo, giraffes, bushbucks, waterbucks, and a 600-species bird community are all observable from your canoe. Plus there is the background scenery: canoers can view both Mount Meru and Kilimanjaro from the same spot.
Lake Baringo, Kenya
This freshwater lake has cone-shaped islands that make it particularly scenic. A cruise on Lake Baringo exposes you to a variety of freshwater birds in their breeding grounds. Typical sightings include fish eagles, Verreaux’s eagles, darters, cormorants and a large colony of goliath heron. Apart from the bird life, many hippos live in the lake.
Mafia Island, Tanzania
Mafia Island on the Indian Ocean offers privacy and comfort for discerning travelers. Enjoy boat excursions to nearby islands in the Zanzibar Archipelago to access beautiful, secluded beaches. If a trip through history is more to your liking, take a boat to Chloe Island to view Arabian ruins from the oldest settlement in the archipelago; or go to Juani, where you’ll find the ruins of the legendary ancient city of Kua. During the months of March and November, migrating whale sharks pass by the island of Mafia. Full and half-day dives to swim with these giant, gentle creatures are available.
Murchison Falls National Park on the Nile, Uganda
Cruising down the Nile provides a great opportunity to observe the animals as they come down to the water’s edge to drink. The Nile supports the largest concentration of hippos and crocodiles in Africa and a dazzling variety of waterbirds. The views of the falls as you approach by boat are spectacular, and the delta’s papyrus swamps are filled with wildlife.
Ujuzi African Travel is pleased to announce two new food-centered excursions available to travelers to East Africa. Whether you’re looking for authentic local dishes or gourmet cuisine that fuses the best of European and African culinary traditions, we have something for the foodie in you.
A Day in the Life of Kigali
In Rwanda, spend a day in the life of a resident of Kigali. Head out with a local guide to visit a cross-section of Kigali neighborhoods, stopping in at a local hair salon and a West African tailor to watch them at work. Then arrive at the food market to marvel at the bounty of colorful produce and pick the choicest items for your dinner. Afterward, you’ll go to the guide’s home to help prepare (and eat!) a traditional Rwandan meal. It’s a delicious way to experience Rwandan culture firsthand.
Gibb’s Farm: Hyperlocal Eating at Its Best
Another uniquely East African experience awaits you at Gibb’s Farm, an organic coffee plantation and lodge just below the rim of Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. With a 10-acre vegetable garden, an onsite dairy and a bakery, Gibb’s Farm exemplifies the farm-to-table ethic. The food, farm and natural setting are all exquisite. As a guest, you can participate in preparing and roasting coffee beans, then drink from the batch. Spend time sampling herbs and fruits in the kitchen garden, or get up early in the morning to make bread with the bakers. If you’d rather eat food than prepare it, borrow one of the farm’s mountain bikes and traverse through the plantation and neighboring village to learn about the local Iraqw culture. Village residents are welcoming and eager to share their way of life with travelers. Or just spend the day relaxing on the grounds or in the spa, which incorporates traditional Tanzanian healing methods and melds them with modern Western treatments. Gourmet meals combine European and Tanzanian foods and cooking techniques to delight the palate and the senses.
Please contact me if you’d like more information about these excursions.
Experience the natural wonders of East Africa from a bird’s-eye view. Adventures Aloft are based in Tarangire, and their balloon safaris fly over Maasai Mara in Kenya, Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, and the North Serengeti in Tanzania.
Balloon safaris give you an unparalleled opportunity to view wildlife in a way you’ve never before experienced. In its 15 years of operating balloon safaris, Adventures Aloft has maintained a perfect safety record. All balloon pilots have over a thousand hours of flying experience and are commercially rated on large size balloons.