If you have a question about our balloon safaris, you may find the answer below but if not, please email us on [email protected].

How does a hot air balloon work?

A hot air balloon works on the principle of buoyancy. It consists of a large balloon, known as an envelope, filled with hot air. The envelope is typically made of lightweight and heat-resistant materials such as nylon or polyester. The balloon is attached to a basket or gondola, in which passengers and the pilot stand.

The process starts by heating the air inside the envelope using burners fueled by liquid petroleum gas. The burners generate a flame that heats the air, causing it to expand and become less dense than the surrounding air. As a result, the balloon becomes buoyant and begins to rise.

The balloon moves with the wind, as there is no way to steer it directly. However, our pilots can control the ascent and descent of the balloon by adjusting the heat inside the envelope. By adding more heat, the air inside the envelope becomes hotter and provides more lift, causing the balloon to rise. Conversely, by reducing the heat, the air inside the envelope cools down, becoming denser and causing the balloon to descend.

To land the balloon, the pilot gradually decreases the heat and allows the air inside the envelope to cool, slowing down the ascent. The pilot looks for a suitable landing spot and, with the help of ground crew, guides the balloon to the ground by releasing some of the hot air from the envelope.

The basic principles behind a hot air balloon are simple yet effective. By controlling the temperature of the air inside the envelope, the pilot can control the altitude of the balloon and navigate the skies. It's a unique and serene way to experience flight and enjoy breathtaking views from above.

When is the best time of year for ballooning in Serengeti?

We are fortunate that the weather in the Serengeti is suitable for ballooning almost every day of the year.

We fly in the following areas every morning: Central Serengeti : Year Round. Ndutu Area, Ngorongoro Conservation Area/Serengeti: 20 Dec – 31 March. Western Serengeti: 15 May – October. Northern Serengeti: 15 June - 15 January. Safari wildlife viewing varies depending on the time of year and location, and the wildebeest migration moves through the ecosystem year-round so although there are no guarantees, if you're in the right place at the right time, you have a good chance of seeing plenty of wildlife.

In Serengeti, it mostly rains in the afternoons, evenings or night time, early morning is the driest part of the day and that's when we fly!

Do you operate year round?

Yes, we operate daily throughout the year in central Serengeti. We operate seasonally in the following areas in Serengeti: Central Serengeti : Year Round Ndutu Area, Ngorongoro Conservation/Serengeti: 20 Dec – 31 March Western Serengeti: June – October Northern Serengeti: 01 July - 15 November A typical day on safari can now include an early morning balloon flight and a different perspective the Serengeti!

Do I need to book in advance?

We strongly recommend that you book in advance, either directly with us or with your tour operator. We have limited capacity and this exclusive adventure is often fully booked. For peace of mind, it is always best to book in advance to avoid disappointment.

What are the best destinations for hot air ballooning?

There are several incredible destinations around the world that offer exceptional hot air ballooning experiences. Here are some of the best destinations for hot air ballooning:

  1. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania: Hot air ballooning over the vast Serengeti plains allows you to witness the Great Migration, where millions of wildebeests and other animals migrate in search of water and fresh grazing. It's an awe-inspiring experience to see these animals from above.
  2. Cappadocia, Turkey: Cappadocia is renowned for its unique, surreal landscapes and is considered one of the best places in the world for hot air ballooning. The UNESCO World Heritage site offers breathtaking views of fairy chimneys, rock formations, and cave dwellings.
  3. Napa Valley, California, USA: Known for its picturesque vineyards and rolling hills, Napa Valley provides a stunning backdrop for hot air ballooning. Enjoy panoramic views of the vineyards, wineries, and the beautiful Napa Valley landscape.
  4. Bagan, Myanmar: Bagan is home to thousands of ancient temples and pagodas, creating a magical setting for a hot air balloon ride. As you float above the temples, you'll be mesmerized by the sunrise or sunset views over this ancient city.
  5. Queenstown, New Zealand: Surrounded by stunning mountains, lakes, and rivers, Queenstown offers an adventurous hot air ballooning experience. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Southern Alps, Lake Wakatipu, and the picturesque landscapes of this beautiful region.
  6. Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Hot air ballooning in Dubai provides a unique perspective on the city's modern skyline and desert landscapes. Drift above the iconic landmarks like the Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah, and the vast sand dunes of the Arabian Desert.
  7. Luxor, Egypt: Soar over the Nile River and witness the ancient wonders of Egypt during a hot air balloon ride in Luxor. Marvel at the temples of Karnak and Hatshepsut, the Valley of the Kings, and the expansive desert vistas.
  8. Yarra Valley, Australia: Just an hour's drive from Melbourne, the Yarra Valley offers a serene hot air ballooning experience. Float above the lush vineyards, rolling hills, and charming towns while enjoying magnificent views of this renowned wine region.

Remember to check local weather conditions and safety precautions before booking your hot air balloon ride in any destination. Enjoy your adventure!

How do I decide?

There are now several balloon operators in Serengeti, however, Serengeti Balloon Safaris are the most experienced by far. Serengeti Balloon Safaris pioneered balloon safaris in Tanzania, starting in The Serengeti National Park some 33 years ago. Being the first and only balloon operator for more than 25 years means that we know the Serengeti, the terrain, the weather, the best places to launch and land, the best areas for wildlife viewing better than recent operations.

Serengeti Balloon Safaris awarded BEST BALLOON OPERATOR 2021 & 2022 BY TANZANIA NATIONAL PARKS.

Serengeti Balloon Safaris are the first choice for Travel Agents and Tour Operators Worldwide.

Serengeti Balloon Safaris have been chosen by British & European Royalty, many Heads of State (including two American Presidents and their families) and famous celebrities from around the world. Their confidence is reassuring to our guests.

Serengeti Balloon Safaris Commercial Balloon Pilots are amongst the most experienced and respected in the world. Each hold commercial balloon pilot licences issued by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority and commercial licences from at least one other country in the world. Our Chief Pilot has been appointed by the Civil Aviation Authority as Examiner for ALL balloon pilots in the country.

Our insurance cover is 100 times greater than some of our competitors. Insurance is reassurance.

For most travellers, A Balloon Safari over the Serengeti is a Bucket List, Once in a Lifetime experience. INSIST ON THE BEST!

How many people can fit in a hot air balloon?

The number of people that can fit in a hot air balloon can vary depending on the size and weight capacity of the balloon. Generally, smaller balloons can carry 2-3 passengers, while larger balloons can hold anywhere from 4 to 16 passengers. Commercial balloons can even accommodate larger groups of up to 24 or more people. The capacity also depends on factors such as the weight of the passengers and the amount of fuel needed for the hot air balloon to stay aloft.

At Serengeti Balloon Safaris, almost all of our balloons are 16 seaters as we find that this is the optimum size for comfort and experience.

Can you control the direction of a hot air balloon?

Yes, the pilot of a hot air balloon has some control over the direction of the balloon, but it is limited. Hot air balloons are primarily at the mercy of wind currents and do not have engines for propulsion or the ability to control their direction in the same way an airplane does.

While the pilot cannot steer a hot air balloon like you would a car or a boat, he or she can control the altitude to some extent. By adjusting the amount of heat in the envelope (the fabric part of the balloon that holds the hot air), you can ascend or descend to catch different wind currents at varying altitudes.

Pilots often navigate hot air balloons by choosing different altitudes and following different wind patterns to reach a desired destination. Our pilots use their accumulated knowledge of wind patterns, and long experience to make your flight as rewarding as possible, every day.

How long does a Serengeti Balloon Safari last?

Our flight lasts approximately an hour. It may be a little more or it may be a little less, it depends o the wind speed and direction on the day. Our pilots will always choose the safest landing spots and if the conditions will take us away from those before an hour is up, we will land.

The whole experience is about 5 hours, from the pre-dawn night drive to the safety briefing, spicy beverage and flight, to the champagne toast on landing, our sumptuous Out of Africa breakfast and our short return drive to your safari guide to continue with the rest of your morning's activities.

How high can a hot air balloon fly?

On average, recreational hot air balloons typically fly between 1,000 and 3,000 feet (305 to 914 meters) above the ground.

However, hot air balloons have the potential to reach much higher altitudes. In fact, the current altitude record for a hot air balloon stands at around 69,852 feet (21,290 meters), achieved by Vijaypat Singhania in 2005. This level of altitude is exceptional and requires specialized equipment and training.

At Serengeti Balloon Safaris, we have a self-imposed maximum flying height of 2,000ft (610m) above ground for your safety. The views from up there are magnificent!

I am on an organised safari with a set itinerary. Can I do this?

Yes, providing you are staying at any of the central Serengeti lodges or camps or (seasonally) in any of the western corridor lodges/camps or (again seasonally) at any Serengeti South lodges or camps or those in the Ndutu area. We also now operate seasonally in North Serengeti and we can collect you from almost all of the camps in that area. We aim to provide a perfect complement to your safari wildlife viewing.

What should I wear? What should I bring?

It can be cool in the early morning, but often warm later, therefore a jacket or sweater that can be removed later is a good idea. A hat is recommended (particularly for the ‘follically challenged) as radiant heat from the burners can be uncomfortable. We suggest long trousers, long sleeves, preferably in natural fibres and stout shoes. Don’t forget your camera and binoculars. You can bring a camera bag or small backpack with you in the balloon.

I’m scared of heights. Can I balloon?

A number of our guests talked about a fear of heights before the flight but all of them have said they are so pleased that they took the flight and that their worries were unfounded. Do take a look at our Testimonials or TripAdvisor for firsthand accounts.

Many of our guests say that the feeling of floating in a balloon is so different to that of standing on the edge of a tall building that there is no comparison.

Are there any restrictions?

Yes, there are some restrictions:

There is no upper age limit, however passengers must be reasonably mobile, fit to fly and prepared for an adventure. Ballooning is not suitable for pregnant ladies, people with mobility or health conditions (heart conditions, brittle bones, neck or back conditions). Passengers must be able to bend their knees, hold on to rope handles with both hands for take-off and landing and be able to climb into and out of the basket.

There are usually weight restrictions for hot air ballooning due to safety concerns and the limitations of the balloon's capacity. The weight restrictions vary depending on the size and type of the balloon, as well as the specific regulations and guidelines set by the balloon operator. Typically, these restrictions can range from around 200 to 250 pounds (90 to 113 kilograms) per passenger for standard-sized balloons. However, it's important to note that weight restrictions may vary, so it's best to check with the specific hot air balloon operator or company you plan to fly with to get accurate information.

At Serengeti Balloon Safaris, our average passenger weights for planning purposes are calculated at 80 kgs. Passengers weighing 50% plus more than this (i.e.120 kgs/265 lb/19 stone) may be charged for two places and given two spaces.

is hot air ballooning safe?

Hot air ballooning can generally be considered a safe activity when appropriate precautions are taken. However, as with any adventure sport, there are certain risks involved. It is essential to choose a reputable hot air ballooning company with experienced pilots and a well-maintained fleet of balloons, such as Serengeti Balloon Safaris. Additionally, weather conditions play a crucial role in the safety of a hot air balloon ride. Serengeti Balloon Safaris have strict guidelines regarding conditions of the day to ensure safe operations.

Our modern hot air balloons are designed and built to high safety standards. Our pilots undergo extensive training and hold at least 2 commercial licenses from different national aviation authorities. They must regularly pass medical checks and participate in ongoing training to maintain their skills and licences. Furthermore, our balloons are regularly inspected and undergo routine maintenance to ensure they are in top condition.

While accidents are relatively rare, it's important to be aware that risks exist. At Serengeti Balloon Safaris, we adopt a strict attitude to safety, we rigorously apply our weather restrictions, we were the first ballooning company in the world to insist that all guests wear safety restraint systems and we inspect our balloons much more regularly than required by their manufacturers. Our pilots are chosen for their experience and skill.

Ultimately, if you choose a reputable company like Serengeti Balloon Safaris and follow the instructions and safety guidelines provided by our pilot and crew, hot air ballooning can be a safe and enjoyable experience.

Can we book a private balloon?

Private balloon bookings are available and are becoming increasingly popular, they work really well for groups travelling together, for families and even for couples, looking for that extra special morning. Our baskets carry 12 or 16 people in compartments of 2, 3 or 4 people, depending on the model. Check out our blog for more information. Please enquire with us for rates and availability.

What about the “rainy season”?

We prefer to call them the GREEN SEASONS. The ‘long rains’ (late March to early June) & the ‘short rains’ (November to mid December). In the Serengeti, the great migration passes through Central Serengeti during the green seasons. At these times it USUALLY rains late afternoon and during the night. Mornings are USUALLY bright and clear with gentle winds (ideal ballooning weather!). The landscape is lush, green and dust free (yes, your vehicle may get stuck in the mud – but our balloon won’t!).

Do you have a child policy?

Our minimum age is 7 years on the date of the flight. This comes from our Safety Management System and risk analysis. We understand that this could cause a problem for families with younger children, so we've come up with 2 alternatives:

A: If the child is 6 years: Is the child over 1.4m? If not, can be mitigated with enhanced safety belt and the fitted seating cushion. Does the child speak English? This is needed for safety instructions. If yes, the child can fly safely with us.

B: if we have guests with children under 6, we will bring them all with us to the launch site and the under-age children will be able to watch the launch and then follow the balloons with our team and be there when the rest of the family lands. They can then join in with the celebration of the flight and the 'full-English' bush breakfast. We will have a dedicated carer on hand to look after them and we won't charge a thing for those children who couldn't fly with the rest of their families.

How much does a balloon safari cost in Serengeti?

The price is US$599 per person all inclusive in a shared balloon. This includes collection from your camp or lodge (early!) and transfer to the launch site for a sunrise take-off. After a wonderful flight of approximately 1 hour, we will give you a champagne toast on landing and then a ‘full english’ breakfast under a tree before returning you to your safari guide at the Seronera Visitors Centre or some other mutually agreed location. The price does not include park entry fees, which are usually covered in the tour operator package.

Why is ballooning expensive?

Our balloons each cost over US $100,000 but we retire them after only 850 hours to ensure that they are in top condition. They use a significant amount of fuel per flight and involve a minimum crew of six men plus professional pilot to get them in the air plus a further ten employees behind the scenes for each balloon. In addition, there are the retrieving vehicles, logistics, back up etc. We operate in a remote area. There is a very substantial sum in the form of concession fees for every passenger to Tanzania National Parks towards conservation funds. Please see our Testimonials. The vast majority of guests say that it is among the best activities to do on safari and great value.

Can you collect us from Arusha?

We are sorry to say that we cannot do that. We can only collect you from your camp or lodge near to one of our launch sites in Serengeti. We are a specialised company, focusing only on the hot air balloon safari, breakfast and associated transfers. There are many reputable local tour operators, who can arrange all the other parts of a wonderful safari in Northern Tanzania. If you need recommendations, please contact us.

Any other questions?

Can’t find the information you need or have another question?Please get in touch and our team will be delighted to help you.

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We partner with many reputable tour operators and you can book your wonderful balloon safari through one of them or here via our website.

Serengeti Balloon Safaris is represented on SafariBookings.com. For reviews and feedback you can visit www.safaribookings.com

If you have any difficulty booking Serengeti Balloon Safaris at any point, please do get in touch using the form below:

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