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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Birthday for a Balloon

Do you know what happened in 1783? 

The very first hot air balloon ride…that’s what! 

Two hundred and thirty one years later the hot air balloon ride seems to have soared to the top ten of most people’s bucket list.  And for good reason; it is an incredible experience.

I learned this first hand on our trip to Kenya in ’06.  During our safari on the Masai Mara I booked a balloon ride through Keekorok Lodge.  Oh my goodness!

We were up BEFORE the crack of dawn and out to the launch site.  As we arrived they were starting to fill the balloons.  

The process took quite a while under the dawning skies.

As the balloons filled they slowly shifted into an upright position.  They were firmly tied down with just enough hot air being put into them to keep them upright. 

Our group loaded up, ready for our adventure.  Himself and I are to the far left.  The others on our side of the basket were from England.

Floating along.

A shot of all three balloons in our group (the third being ours… though you can just see the rigging). 

With the roar of the burners, we went up pretty high.  There is nothing quiet or peaceful about a hot air balloon as it goes up!  The burners are loud and hot. 

But once you are ‘up’… oh my!  The pilot cuts the burners and you float along with the only sounds being the creak of the basket and whatever chatter of the people in the basket.  (Our pilot told some people to hush so the quiet could be enjoyed.  Bless him!)

We were in Kenya at the start of The Great Migration where the wildebeest and zebra head over to the Serengeti in Tanzania.  The herds were gathering and the lines of wildebeest went for miles and miles.

Without the burner we slowly sank closer and closer.  They didn’t even know we were there…

…until our pilot hit the burners to make the roar!  They knew we were there then!  Off they would run, kicking up their heels and grunting.  (They really sound like the Budweiser beer bull frogs!)

We floated along for about 2 hours with this sort of view.  Sometimes we were high up… sometimes we got pretty close to the ground.

Eventually we landed (about one hundred feet from where a hyena had been having brunch on a lion’s breakfast!). 

Oh what a day!

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