Ruaha Balloon Safaris officially launched in Tanzania in June. It is operated by Serengeti Balloon Safaris, with flights taking off near Msembe on the Ruaha River.
John Corse, MD of Serengeti Balloon Safaris says: “We take off before sunrise and fly for approximately one hour, usually over the river and landing somewhere near the Ruaha/Mwagusi River confluence, after a variety of low and high flying.”
Flights operate daily and guests are picked up from their lodge or camp in Ruaha National Park, then taken to the launch site near Ruaha River for the balloon flight. There they are briefed while watching their balloon inflate, launching at 06h15.
All licensed balloon pilots operating the flights are highly experienced, and can precisely control the altitude of the balloon, sometimes flying at treetop height, or lower, offering a unique perspective and ideal photographic opportunities. At other times, the pilot may ascend to 1000 feet or more, allowing guests to see the panorama of Ruaha below.
On landing, guests are welcome with champagne before sitting down to a full English breakfast prepared and served in the bush, a typical ‘out of Africa’-style experience, with bone china, linen tablecloths and Sheffield cutlery.
After breakfast, guests receive a Ruaha Balloon Certificate and are then returned to their respective lodges/camps at 09h15, allowing for other planned activities for the rest of the day.
Ruaha Balloon Safaris is registered as a commercial airline with the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority.
The balloon excursions can accommodate a maximum of 12 passengers per flight, and operate between June 15 and October 31. Shared flights and private charters can be arranged.
Pick-up points for passengers include: Ruaha River Lodge, Mdonya Old River Camp, Kwihala, Jabali Ridge, Ikuka Safari Camp, Kigelia Camp, Mwagusi Camp, TANAPA Bandas, Msembe Public Campsites, TANAPA Cottages, and the entrance gate for camps outside Ruaha National Park.
Children under the age of seven years old are not permitted. Passengers must be reasonably mobile and fit to fly.
Passenger’s weights are calculated at an average of 80 kilograms. Passengers weighing 50% more than this, such as 120 kilograms, may be charged for two places.
The balloons are Cameron & UltraMagic A340, A450, and N415, and are coloured acacia green and savannah gold. The burners are state-of-the-art ‘whisper & stealth’.