An Introduction to Kenya Hot Air Balloon Safaris

hot air safaris
Nothing is more magical than floating effortlessly above the Mara

The lush savannah, the teeming wildlife, the magical sunrise, the serene ambiance- our list of why you should experience a Kenya hot air balloon safari at least once in your life is lengthy and pretty convincing.

And because we’re pretty positive you’ll be booking a hot-air balloon safari after reading this, we’ve highlighted a tip or ten on how to prepare for your flight and the optimal time to book a balloon safari. 


Here’s Where to Reach us to Book a Kenya Masai Mara Safari

Call or WhatsApp us at +254-704-532-105 or send us an email at,, or 

And Here’s a List of Some of Our Most Booked Kenya Masai Mara Safaris

Executive Summary

  • A hot air balloon safari in the Masai Mara offers unique, stunning views of diverse landscapes and wildlife including the Big Five.
  • Safety is paramount for hot air balloon safaris, with seasoned pilots and crews, thorough safety checks, and stringent adherence to aviation regulations and training requirements.
  • The optimal time for a hot air balloon safari in Kenya is during the dry seasons from July to October and December to March. These seasons offer more favorable weather conditions and spectacular wildlife-watching opportunities.

Soaring Over the Masai Mara: Kenya’s Premier Hot Air Balloon Destination

Known for its stunningly diverse landscape and impressive range of wild animals and birds, the Masai Mara Game Reserve is undeniably the best destination in East Africa for hot-air balloon flights. The park offers an exciting mix of riverine forests, savannahs, escarpments, and rugged rivers, which create an exquisite canvas for hot air balloon flights.

From witnessing the first light of dawn from your balloon basket to enjoying a luxurious bush breakfast after landing, every moment of the Masai Mara balloon safari is crafted to create an incredible experience.

The Great Migration from Above

Kenya hot-air balloon safari
Hot-air balloon safaris beautifully capture the mystique of the Great Migration

Imagine floating above the African plains, watching almost 5 million animals traverse the Mara landscape in what is hailed as the largest animal migration on the planet. Wildebeests, zebras, antelopes, lions, hippos, crocodiles, hyenas, and cheetahs- there’s more of these than you thought you’d ever see congregated in one place and my is it something to witness.

There’s also a lot of bloodshed and gorgeous attractions like lush grasslands, Mara River, riverine forests, and scattered acacia. That, plus the sunrise and serene ambiance makes this an experience with its weight in gold.

Spotting the Big Five

hot air safaris
The Mara is home to the Big Five, all of which can be seen on a balloon safari

A hot air balloon safari in the Masai Mara offers another unique opportunity – spotting the Big Five from an aerial perspective. Imagine the thrill of seeing; lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards, and rhinos in their natural habitat, all from the comfort of your balloon basket.

But the wildlife sightings aren’t limited to the Big Five. Passengers may also spot leopards perched in trees, active hyena dens, and an array of other wildlife species, contributing to a uniquely comprehensive wildlife observation. This bird’s eye view of the diverse wildlife of the Masai Mara enhances the safari experience, offering an adventure that is truly one-of-a-kind.

Safety and Expertise: The Importance of Qualified Pilots and Crew

Despite the thrill of riding in a hot air balloon over the Masai Mara, safety remains our top priority. The pilots in Kenya are seasoned professionals with years, often decades, of aviation experience, ensuring enhanced safety and enjoyment of the flight. High-altitude winds are a critical factor for hot air balloon safaris, with pilots needing to make crucial decisions on whether to fly based on these conditions, even in the absence of surface winds.

Adverse weather conditions like rain, storms, haze, smoke, or fog can pose risks and may lead to flight cancellations. Here are some examples of how these conditions can affect hot-air balloon flights:

  • Rain can cool down the hot air balloon and add weight, leading to unintended and rapid descents.
  • Storms can generate hazardous gust fronts, which can be dangerous for hot air balloon flights.
  • Lack of visibility from haze, smoke, or fog can critically affect a pilot’s ability to navigate safely.
  • Wind direction- changes in wind direction can cause turbulence which can be scary and dangerous for the crew and guests

Hence, grasping the weather conditions and their influence on flight safety forms a crucial aspect of the hot air balloon safari experience.

Licensing and Training

The professionalism and skills of hot air balloon pilots are backed by a rigorous licensing and training process. Candidates wishing to obtain a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) for hot air balloons in Kenya must:

  • Be at least eighteen years old
  • Possess a Class 1 Medical Certificate
  • Complete ground training and accurate logbook endorsements by authorized instructors
  • Pass the knowledge and practical tests required for a CPL

These requirements affirm a candidate’s readiness for becoming a licensed hot air balloon pilot.

The knowledge test for the CPL assesses a candidate’s understanding of various aeronautical subjects relevant to the class rating pursued. They must also pass an English Language Proficiency exam with at least an Operational Level (Level 4). Practical experience for CPL acquisition includes completing the required flight hours and successfully passing a General Flight Test on operations specific to the relevant aircraft category and class.

To renew their CPL, commercial balloon pilots in Kenya need to log the necessary flight hours and submit a renewal form that includes a record of flying experience. This rigorous process ensures that your hot air balloon safari is in the hands of trained and experienced professionals.

Preparing for Your Flight

Before take-off, there are several preparations and considerations made by the pilots and crew. Weather is the primary concern for assessing the viability of a hot air balloon flight on any given day. Ideal wind conditions for hot air balloon flights are light and stable, ranging from 4 to 9 miles per hour.

Although this section doesn’t delve into detailed pre-flight safety checks and specific preparations by pilots and ground crew, it’s important to be aware that these safaris adhere to strict safety procedures and guidelines. These measures ensure that your flight is not just an unforgettable adventure, but also a safe and secure experience.

The Kenya Hot Air Balloon Experience: What to Expect

balloon safari
A typical hot-air balloon ride spans 4 to 5 hours

With a clear understanding of the safety measures and the unique experiences a hot air balloon safari can offer, let’s further investigate what this adventure entails. A typical Kenya hot air balloon safari spans 4 to 5 hours, including all preparations and celebrations, making it a comprehensive morning adventure.

Before taking to the skies, passengers receive a safety briefing and can be asked to help inflate the hot air balloon. This enhances anticipation for the hot air balloon ride. During the flight, guests enjoy approximately one hour of air time, experiencing the unique serenity of floating with the wind and witnessing the sunrise casting golden hues over the savannah.

After landing, passengers can join a Maasai jumping dance and help pack up the balloon, rounding off the adventure. This immersive experience offers a unique blend of thrill, beauty, and cultural immersion that makes for an unforgettable journey.

Pre-Dawn Launch

hot-air balloon safari
Hot-air balloon safaris in the Mara typically begin at sunrise

The adventure begins early, with guests being picked up from their respective lodges between 5:00 to 5:30 AM. This is followed by a check-in where you are greeted with ‘Good Morning’ beverages and biscuits. As the early morning can be chilly, guests are advised to wear warm clothing.

Upon arrival at the launch site, passengers attend a briefing and may watch as the balloon is inflated and prepared for flight. As the first light of dawn appears, the hot air balloon takes off, offering a peaceful and serene adventure marked by the stillness of the African plains.

The pre-dawn launch and the calm African mornings create the perfect conditions for passengers to enjoy a unique perspective of the Masai Mara Reserve, filled with wildlife activities at the start of their day.

Champagne Breakfast in the Bush

hot-air safaris
Hot-air balloon rides end with a sumptuous champagne breakfast served at the park’s hear

After the thrill of the flight, the Kenyan safari holiday concludes with a traditional celebration that includes toasting with sparkling wine, followed by the presentation of a personalized flight certificate. Guests are also treated to a luxurious breakfast at a special spot in the midst of the Kenyan wilderness, often at the landing site itself.

The elaborate meal provided during the champagne breakfast typically includes fresh fruits, pastries, and hot dishes such as eggs benedict, sausage, bacon, and grilled tomatoes. The breakfast is accompanied by a champagne toast and can include hors-d’oeuvres and mimosas, with additional offerings available for special occasions. This sumptuous breakfast in the bush adds a touch of luxury to the adventure, making your hot air balloon safari an experience to remember.

Choosing the Right Hot Air Balloon Safari Package

Selecting an appropriate hot air balloon safari package forms an imperative part of your planning process. Hot air balloon safari packages generally feature a 1-hour balloon ride, ground transportation from the lodge, a bush breakfast with champagne, a short game drive, and a signed balloon certificate. Exclusions often consist of a payment processing fee, lodging, transport from Nairobi, and reserve entrance fees.

The cost of a hot air balloon safari fluctuates with the season, with adult rates reaching $400 during the peak season, children’s rates being $280, and during the low season, reduced rates are $380 for adults and $275 for children. A minimum three-day stay in the Masai Mara is advised to not only enjoy the hot air balloon safari but to also participate in additional activities the reserve offers.

Comparing Prices and Inclusions

When comparing balloon safari packages for the best value, it is important to assess the quality of inclusions like the bush breakfast, the expertise of the pilot, and additional experiences such as the game drives. A typical Masai Mara hot air balloon safari includes pickup from your accommodation, the balloon ride itself, a bush breakfast with drinks, and a game drive on the way back to the camp or lodge.

However, remember that costs not typically covered by the safari package include:

  • Traveler’s insurance
  • Medical evacuation
  • Communication charges
  • Gratuities or tips
  • Visa fees
  • Specific airport passenger charges
  • International airfares

When comparing prices and inclusions, it’s vital to consider both the listed charges and potential extra costs.

Booking Tips and Recommendations

While securing your hot air balloon safari can hold its own excitement, there are a few suggestions and recommendations to bear in mind. Ensure that the hot air balloon safari provider chosen has a good reputation for safety and quality of service. The chances of reputable companies using high-quality balloons made by specialist manufacturers like Cameron in Great Britain are higher.

Also, advance booking is critical to secure a spot on a hot air balloon safari in Masai Mara, especially during peak tourist seasons. It is advisable to have the safari booked at least by the second day of your stay. The price for a hot air balloon safari for the 2023 to 2024 season ranges from $455 to $515 per person, depending on the departure location, with special rates for children under 12. Guests can book a hot air balloon safari directly through safari company platforms using various methods such as WhatsApp or the ‘book now’ options on their websites.

When to Go: Best Time for a Hot Air Balloon Safari in Kenya

hot-air balloon safaris
The best time for a hot-air balloon safari is during the July to October dry season

Accurately timing your hot air balloon safari is fundamental to maximizing your experience. Kenya offers a range of climatic conditions throughout the year, which can significantly impact the experience of a hot air balloon safari. The dry seasons, from July to October and from December to March, provide stable and suitable conditions for hot air ballooning with less chance of rain and clearer skies.

However, the long rain period from March to May and the short rains in November can be unpredictable for hot air ballooning due to the likelihood of stormier weather, which can lead to cancellations. Therefore, the optimal time for a hot air balloon safari in Kenya is during the dry season, particularly from June to October, when the weather is most favorable.

Weather Considerations

Whether you’re planning your safari or preparing for your flight, comprehension of the weather conditions is critical. Hot air balloon flights in Kenya are subject to stringent weather considerations to ensure the safety of passengers and crew. Weather conditions are closely monitored to determine the most favorable times for flight, enhancing the overall balloon safari experience.

In instances of poor weather, hot air balloon safaris may be canceled with options for rescheduling or refunds as safety cannot be compromised. Seasonal weather patterns play a crucial role in the planning and successful execution of hot air balloon safaris in Kenya. Therefore, understanding the impact of weather on your safari is an important consideration when planning your trip.

Wildlife Watching Opportunities

Beyond the hot air balloon flights, the timing of your safari can also influence the wildlife-watching opportunities. The optimal period to witness the Great Migration in the Masai Mara from a hot air balloon spans from July to October. This extraordinary wildlife spectacle provides an unparalleled opportunity to observe the raw drama of nature from the serenity of a hot air balloon.

In addition to the Great Migration, the calving season in February and March also coincides with clear skies and good ballooning conditions, providing an opportunity to see newborn wildlife. Whether you want to witness the dramatic river crossings of the Great Migration or observe the playful antics of newborn wildlife, timing your safari right can enhance your wildlife-watching experience.

Preparing for Your Kenya Hot Air Balloon Adventure

After you’ve selected your package and finalized the timing of your safari, the next step is to get ready for your Kenyan hot air balloon adventure. Passengers are advised to bring binoculars on a hot air balloon safari to enhance animal viewing from various altitudes.

After the balloon ride, guests can enjoy a game drive back to their camp/ lodge as part of the complete safari experience.

Clothing and Personal Items

When packing for your hot air balloon safari, keep in mind that the early morning flights can be chilly. Here are some recommended items to bring:

  • Long trousers
  • Comfortable shirt
  • Hiking shoes
  • Hat
  • Long-sleeved jacket or warm fleece

These items will ensure your comfort and help you stay warm during the flight.

As for personal items, here are some essentials for a hot air balloon safari:

  • Camera: to capture panoramic views and wildlife sightings
  • Binoculars: for spotting wildlife from the balloon
  • Bag: to secure personal items like the camera and binoculars during the safari

These preparations will ensure that you’re comfortable and ready to make the most of your ultimate safari experience.

Physical Requirements and Restrictions

Before setting off on a hot air balloon safari, understanding the physical demands and limitations is crucial. Adults are recommended to be in good physical condition to partake in a hot air balloon safari. Passengers must have a certain level of physical fitness to climb in and out of the balloon basket, which might be either standing upright or lying on its side.

Hot air balloon safaris have certain restrictions and requirements for participants. Here are some important points to note:

  • Pregnant women and individuals with conditions like heart problems, brittle bones, or severe neck or back conditions are not suitable for hot air balloon safaris.
  • Children must be at least four years old to participate and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
  • There is no upper age limit for participants as long as they are reasonably fit and able to enjoy the adventure.
  • People with impaired mobility can be accommodated with prior notice for necessary preparations.

Individuals weighing over 265 lbs (120 kg) may be required to purchase an additional spot on the balloon due to safety precautions, although this can be waived at the pilot’s discretion.


To sum it up, a hot air balloon safari in Kenya is a unique blend of thrill, beauty, and cultural immersion that promises an unforgettable adventure. Whether you’re soaring above the Masai Mara, witnessing the Great Migration from above, or enjoying a luxurious champagne breakfast in the bush, every moment of this safari is crafted to create a lifetime experience. So why wait? Start planning your Kenya hot air balloon adventure today and prepare to see the African plains from a whole new perspective!

Frequently Asked Questions

Next, we answer the most common questions we get about Kenya Hot Air Balloon Safaris.

How much is the hot air balloon ride in Kenya?

A hot air balloon ride in Kenya ranges from US\$455 to US\$515 per person, depending on the camp or lodge you fly from in Maasai Mara. These prices are valid for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

Is hot air balloon in Masai Mara worth it?

Yes, a hot air balloon ride in Masai Mara is definitely worth it for the breathtaking bird’s eye view of the Mara Ecosystem. Experience the picturesque landscapes of Masai Mara National Reserve and Serengeti National Park from a unique perspective.

How much does hot air balloon ride cost in Masai Mara?

The cost of a hot air balloon ride in Masai Mara is approximately $450.

How high do hot air balloons go in Kenya?

Hot air balloons in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, can soar as high as 3000 meters, offering breathtaking views of Mount Kilimanjaro and a unique perspective on the wildlife.

What is the best time for a hot air balloon safari in Kenya?

The best time for a hot air balloon safari in Kenya is during the dry season from June to October, coinciding with the Great Migration, providing favorable weather and incredible wildlife viewing opportunities.