Here we answer the most frequently asked questions about ballooning in the Mara. Please feel free to contact us if you have additional questions or concerns.
Are your balloons safe?
Our balloons are manufactured to the highest safety standards possible. Conventional hot air balloons also have the best safety record by far of all forms of aviation.
Is there a minimum age or maximum weight limit?
We do not fly children under the age of 3 years. While we do not have a weight limit, we do request that you let us know in advance if you weigh over 250 pounds, so that we can adjust the weight distribution in the basket if necessary.
How does the pilot control the balloon?
The balloon goes with the wind, but at different altitudes the wind often flows in different directions; by expertly navigating this vertical landscape the pilot finds some directional control. In order to gain or lose altitude, the pilot manipulates the temperature of the air inside the balloon envelope using burners fueled by butane gas. When heat is added, the balloon rises: add more heat and it rises more quickly. In order to descend, the pilot allows the balloon to cool naturally. The cooler the air inside the balloon becomes the more quickly it descends. Sometimes when the balloon is descending for landing the pilot actually adds some heat to slow down the rate of descent.
Are take-off and landing rough?
Take-off is generally quite gentle, although it may be a bit fast in windy conditions. If the wind is above 15 knots at the take-off site, we will not fly due to safety concerns. About 50% of our landings are what we call a “tip over” landing, where the balloon basket drags along the ground for about 20 meters before coming to a stop lying on its side. There can be a few bumps, however most of our guests experience a much rougher ride in their safari vehicles!
How long is the flight?
We typically fly between 15 to 25 kilometers and the flight lasts about one hour, depending on wind conditions. The entire experience (link to The experience), including transfer to the launch site, flight, breakfast, and game drive back to your lodge or camp, starts at about 5:00AM and finishes at about 10:30AM.
What should I bring with me?
We encourage all guests to carry binoculars and cameras. We suggest closed shoes in case we need to walk through some grass after landing, and dressing in layers is best for the transition from the cool, dark early morning to the relatively hot late morning sun.
Do you ever cancel a flight? What happens if my flight is canceled?
We rarely cancel flights (~5 times per year), and only do so due to high winds, rain, or extremely poor visibility. If your flight is canceled you will receive a 100% refund. Or, if your safari schedule allows and there is available space in the balloons, we can attempt to fly you the following day.
How many people fit in the basket?
Our balloons can hold a maximum of 16 people in a basket.
What is served at breakfast?
Please see our complete breakfast menu and photos here
“Wonderful to finally see a well organised operation that will complement a fantastic ballooning destination!”
- Micato Safaris-