South Africa Stories and Tips

Balloon Ride in Pilanesberg National Park

Preparing the hot air balloon Photo, South Africa, Africa

The morning after our first game drive, we had a hot air balloon ride booked through our hotel. Grudgingly, we were up before dawn and taken to the middle of the park where the balloon was being unfolded. The captain said he would normally have the balloon all blown up for us and ready to go but he was concerned about the weather. After watching the skies for a while, he agreed to go and had his assistants start blowing up the balloon. The basket held 10 people - 2 pilots and 8 passengers. We started our trip by floating low above the park. This gave us a close up view of the animals from above. We hovered over 5 lionesses in a tree and saw a small stampede of buffalo. Then the pilot brought us higher above the park so we could see for miles and miles. Our ride was cut short because the pilot was concerned we wouldn't make it over the hill. He went for a crash landing in the bushes instead. That was the best part! He instructed to take the crash position crouching inside the basket. As we came closer to the ground, we were dragged across small trees and bushes until finally coming to a stop. It was all harmless and fairly routine but a great adventure. The pilot's assistants drove up in the truck to pack the balloon away and we were escorted to the traditional champagne breakfast in the bush. The balloon ride was expensive ($150) but so worth every penny!

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