Taking off: 30 years of balloon safari experiences


When we first started flying our balloons in the Serengeti more than 30 years ago, we were a couple of likeminded adventurers (Tony and Colin) with just our dreams and ideas to guide us.

These days, our team of pilots are known for their safety record and expert knowledge, trusted to fly everyone who’s anyone – from pop royalty to real royalty and beyond.

Here’s a bit about our history and how we went from two enthusiastic explorers to an amazing team of experts with incredible knowledge of both hot air balloon flights and the breath-taking landscapes below.

The very first flight

Having worked in commercial ballooning and luxury safari camps for a long time, Colin and Tony had the idea to combine their experience and expertise to create Serengeti Balloon Safaris.

It took a long time to get the right licenses and permissions in place, but five years later they could finally place an order for their first 8-passenger balloon and get ready for their first test flight in Serengeti.

With prevailing winds, clunky old radios and the slight issue of a large hill in the way – the very first test flight was eventful to say the least. At the time, there were very few roads and the beautiful balloon in ‘acacia-green’ and ‘savannah-gold’ was a little camouflaged in the Serengeti, making it difficult to find after Colin had landed it behind the aforementioned hill.

Needless to say, Tony and the park ranger they were working with got a little lost that day, but thankfully, since then, the team at Serengeti Balloon Safaris have come a long way. With 30 years’ experience under their belts and better methods of communication to hand, they can navigate the plains of the Serengeti better than anyone.

Testing balloon launching sites

After a lot of trial and error over the years, we now have two launch sites in Central Serengeti. This allows us to provide the best experience for our clients every time, as we can choose one site or the other according to the weather conditions and the whereabouts of the wildlife that day.

When there’s less wildlife in the central plains, we use the launch site that takes us to the woodland instead where the animals are likely to be hiding. On windier days, we have another launch site further east which gives us flexibility for a longer flight.

We also have another four areas where we take flight – including Western Serengeti, Northern Serengeti, Southern Serengeti, and a private reserve outside the national park. So whatever the weather, we now have the option to launch from the perfect spot for an amazing safari.

Feedback from pilots

After each flight, our pilots provide plenty of feedback with reports of their experience, including the air temperature, weather conditions, wind speed, and wildlife sightings, as well as our guests’ reactions and comments.

This constant feedback over the years has helped us to improve the flights, find the best routes around the Serengeti, and make sure every experience is the very best it can be.

Today’s VIP experience

In 2019, we carried our 200,000th passenger, making us one of the top balloon companies in the world. With 30 years’ experience, there are no more experienced pilots than those who fly the green and gold of Serengeti Balloon Safaris.

We’re adventurers at heart, with a penchant for detail and quality, and with each balloon that flies we know we're doing something extraordinarily well. So it’s no wonder we’re the first choice for VIP customers including royalty, politicians, and high-profile actors and musicians.

A Serengeti Balloon Safari has become a ‘bucket list’ experience for many travellers on a safari in Tanzania, and they choose us for our safety record, unbeatable expertise and of course our discretion.

If a balloon safari is top of your bucket list, get in touch and we’ll help you plan your perfect trip.

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