Travel

A Thrilling Hot Air Balloon Experience and Breakfast with Lions at Queen Elizabeth National Park

Balloon being filled with air shortly before takeoff

Experience the thrill of a lifetime by eating breakfast with lions in the wild savanna jungle of Queen Elizabeth National Park

Watch what it feels like to see wild animals wake up from a long night of rest

Watch one of the most amazing sunrises you will ever see over the Kazinga Channel

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Float like an eagle in a hot air balloon

Has it ever occurred to you even in your wildest dreams that you can have bush breakfast in the heart of Queen Elizabeth National Park and actually eat your hearty meal with lions or any other wild game for that matter lounging just around?

Well if this is your dream, information pills then I would suggest you stop dreaming and make that trip to Kasese.

The balloon safari experience in Uganda is a collaboration between Marasa Africa, what is ed where the unforgettable happens as their tagline goes and Balloon Tours Uganda.

Marasa Africa runs the four lodges of Madhavani and these are Mweya Safari Lodge, Chobe Safari Lodge, Paraa Safari lodge and Silverback lodge in misty hills of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

The hot air balloon experience is therefore one of the activities organized at Mweya Safari lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Ideally, for you to maximize this experience you need to have slept at Mweya Safari Lodge but even if you have not slept there arrangements can be made to pick you up or meet up with you at a designated rendezvous point.

Early breakfast with the Air balloon captain

Early breakfast with the Air balloon captain

Early birding

Your hot air balloon experience begins early morning when you have to get to the rendezvous point which is Kasenyi gate of Queen Elizabeth National Park at 5.30am.

If you are sleeping at Mweya Safari Lodge you can arrange with lodge staff for a wakeup call with a hot cup of coffee at that time.

The early morning drive in the dark is usually a chance to see nocturnal animals that live in and around the park.

On arrival to the Kasenyi gate, you will follow the ground crew to the site that has been chosen for lift off. The specific locations change daily based on current wind and weather conditions.

If you are also sleeping at Mweya, the lodge will deliver you to the take off location in one of their luxury tourist cars.

Inflating the balloon with hot air

When you arrive at the take off point, you will meet your pilot and be given a safety briefing and instructions for boarding the balloon as well as landing procedures.

As the ground crew unpack the balloon, passengers can sip on a steaming cup of coffee or tea and watch the cold inflation of the balloon.

This is done using two large petrol powered fans that fill the balloon with cold air. Once the balloon is mostly inflated but still lying on its side, the ground, the crew will invite you inside the balloon.

It is overwhelming how large it is. The 16 passenger balloon has a capacity of 300,000 cubic feet. Inside, you will learn about the ropes that are used by the pilot to control it.

When the balloon is mostly inflated with cold air, the pilot enters the basket while it is still lying its side and begins to further inflate the balloon with hot air.

With the addition of the hot air, the balloon slowly begins to rise in the air and uprights itself. When the balloon is completely vertical, it is time for passengers to climb into the basket and prepare for lift off.

Close up shot of the air balloon above Kazinga channel

Close up shot of the air balloon above Kazinga channel

Soaring like an eagle

For approximately an hour, you will float over the savannah of Queen Elizabeth NP. The pilot will fly at varying altitudes during your flight to give you different perspectives, taking advantage of the wind currents at the varying altitudes.

No two flights are the same ensuring that your experience is truly unique. The flight gives passengers great photo opportunities that are different from an ordinary safari on the ground.

Watch wild animals rouse from their sleep

When you take off at 6am you are then guaranteed to watch wild animals herds of buffaloes, elephants, Uganda kobs, lions to mention a few waking up from sleep.

They say one of the best feelings in the world is to watch a child sleep in your lap. I add one of the best views in the wilderness is to see wild game rouse from their sleep.

As you watch the wild animals wake up then you also are being treated to amazing views of the Queen Elizabeth National Park over the Kazinga Channel and the international highway that cuts through the national park to Kasese and eventually Mpondwe border with D.R Congo.

The highlight is seeing the sunrise at that time. When you are up there in the sky floating, you literally feel like you are on top of the world.

Sharing a moment with the air balloon captain

Sharing a moment with the air balloon captain

Bush breakfast

The balloon safari package comes with a bush breakfast buffet and a bottle of champagne that the balloon Captain will pop to congratulate you upon a successful flight and landing.

The bush breakfast is often set up in the middle of the National Park and if you are lucky like in our case you could literary eat your breakfast with lions or any other wild game in the vicinity.

You may at this point ask how secure is the team? Well here is the thing, lions do not normally attack people unless they have tasted human flesh and in which case they become man eaters.

The balloon and breakfast area is usually secured with a good number of game rangers well trained to ward off danger from any wild animal.

However, why go on an adventure like this if you are not willing to experience some freaking thrilling moments like risking it all to have breakfast with lions.

After all you need to stack up stories to share with your grand children in your old age, who knows by then even lions maybe extinct on this continent.

After breakfast and popping some champagne you are then driven back to the safari lodge for the next adventure.

Next I will share with you the sundowner experience at Mweya Safari Lodge.

waspuganda@gmail.com.    

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