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Hot air balloon floating across the Masai Mara

Hot air balloon safaris in Kenya's Masai Mara

A wonderful way to see Kenya's premier game reserve, the Masai Mara, is on a hot air balloon safari. Floating in a balloon above the plains gives you a totally different perspective on the park.

You can see birds roosting in the tops of trees, giraffe hiding under the forest canopy, and the backs of hippo pods and crocodiles in the snaking rivers. As you balloon at sunrise, you see the mist rising from the plains and light spreading over the park.

Dawn in the Mara is one of the most beautiful sights in Africa.

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The flight

You will have to rise early, usually before dawn around 4am, to be taken from your camp to the ballooning start point.

On getting there you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while you watch as the balloon is inflated. When they are ready you clamber into the basket and your pilot will give you a short briefing. Then, as the sun rises, so does your balloon.

The direction you take will depend on the wind and you may float over forest, plains or rivers. Your pilot will point out the game below and there are ample opportunities for photography.

One of the best things about ballooning is that it's totally silent apart from the occasional noise from the balloon's burners.

After around an hour, you will land on the plains, possibly with a bump and certainly ready for breakfast.

Champagne breakfast

Once you've landed, a breakfast will be set up and served for you in the middle of the Mara. You can enjoy a glass of champagne whilst the table is laid and sausages cooked for you.

Sitting on a camp stool, tucking into breakfast and watching the birds soar overhead is a magical experience

After breakfast you climb into your safari vehicle and enjoy a game drive back to camp.