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When you picture a safari trip, the first image that comes to mind is probably a 4x4 jeep, cruising off-road at high speeds in search of wildlife and leaving a trail of dust behind it. Sounds fun, right? Well, what if we told you that it's possible to experience all the wonders of a safari from an even more exhilarating mode of transport? With the Miracle Experience, you can instantly elevate your sense of adventure, floating above the clouds and taking in your surroundings from the comfort of a hot air balloon.
To make our first safari trip in Tanzania even more special, we decided that we would push the boat out (or, rather, balloon) and tick off this additional bucket list item while we were in the Serengeti National Park. After all, Jeremy Clarkson recently confirmed that a hot air balloon ride across the savannah was the greatest thing he ever did - and, let's face it, there's not a lot the man hasn't done so we figured we'd take his word for it! Watch our reel with the Miracle Experience here!
When searching for a potential hot air balloon provider, it was clear that Miracle Experience, a company with an enormous team and impressive amount of expertise, were the leading choice for safaris from the sky. With exceptional reviews on TripAdvisor, our decision was practically made for us. Although, as it was a completely new concept to us and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we still had a few questions. Below, we have listed our initial queries and provided answers, based on our adventure with Miracle Experience:
Are the pilots qualified?
All of the pilots that work for Miracle Experience are qualified, knowledgeable and have ample experience of flying. Much to our surprise, the balloons themselves are operated as if they are planes. The pilots communicate with other air carriers who may be in the area and regular updates of the navigational route / current location are provided to marshals on the ground. Further to this, the pilots are so skilled that they can multitask throughout the course of the journey. As well as flying the balloon, ours provided coffee to each passenger, shortly after take-off, and was also well-informed about wildlife sightings, working as a guide as well as a pilot. We felt at ease and thoroughly enjoyed our experience as a result.
Do we get a safety briefing beforehand?
Not only is a full safety demonstration given before entering the basket, we had an unexpected visit from a Miracle Experience representative the day before our booking to explain the general itinerary for the day and to provide some advice on what we should wear/bring with us. We felt that this was incredibly professional and appreciated the slick service which was provided from then on. (The accommodation we were staying in was well over an hour away from the launch site so we were grateful they'd driven all that way to meet us beforehand)
Will we be able to see much from above?
A mesmerising sunrise, herd of wild elephants, bloat of hippos and the endless plains of the Serengeti were all significant highlights from our hot air balloon ride. Of course, sightings will depend largely on what time of year you visit, the weather and various other factors so we can't say for sure what you will see. However, regardless of the wide scope of wildlife on offer, just being among the clouds and floating gently across the landscape is breathtakingly beautiful!
What happens when you land/afterwards?
The pilot chooses a safe landing spot - one that is away from predators. Once the balloon has landed, the basket lays flat on its side and, when given the prompt, all passengers can exit.
As an extra layer of security, we were followed by a number of safari trucks, directed by the pilot, to minimise risks and ensure a smooth arrival.
Following our ride, we were each given a complimentary glass of champagne and had photographs taken of the successful landing. We even had a photo of our group inside the 'envelope' (the name given to the balloon part).
Shortly afterwards, we were taken to a gorgeous outdoor setting in the middle of the Serengeti. There were tables and chairs set up with plates for a delicious bush breakfast and we were greeted by a lovely team of staff who worked for Miracle Experience, singing, smiling and serving high-quality hospitality. This really did take al fresco dining to a new level, for we were literally feasting in the wild. At one point, a baboon snuck into our camp and stole our orange juice!
At the end of our breakfast, the pilot presented us all with personalised certificates to acknowledge our participation in the hot air balloon ride. We then had another group photo before parting ways.
What makes this a better hot air balloon ride, compared to others?
As mentioned earlier, we were really chuffed with the professionalism displayed at every stage by all members of the team at Miracle Experience. Even since returning from our trip, the communication with the company has been ongoing to ensure our experience was positive. We've received a gallery of images, collected from the day - moments that we will look back on fondly and treasure in the years to come.
They offer many location options to cater for different times of year at a rate of 599 USD per person. If you're interested in booking this phenomenal experience, we would strongly recommend checking out the Miracle Experience website for more information.
We guarantee that, once your hot air balloon ride has come to an end, you will exit the basket with smiles on your faces and the very best memories from your trip!