Lisa from Safari Specialists was among the first in Botswana to enjoy hot air ballooning over the Okavango Delta. She shares her experience below:
In late 2015 I visited two camps in the northern Okavango Delta for a weekend of healthy bush therapy. I spent one night each at Kana Kara and Kazidora. The game viewing in the area far exceeded my expectations, even on our transfers we saw a huge variety of plains game spread before us: zebra, tsessebe and kudu and much more. A further special sighting was of 2 young male lions recovering in the shade after over indulging on their well-guarded buffalo kill.
We were receiving our camp briefing in the lounge at Kazidora, when we got the best offer of the year! We were invited to be the first guests to experience hot air ballooning over the Okavango Delta. Words escaped me, but the huge smile on my face said it all – YES PLEASE!
The rest of the day at Kazidora was lovely but my mind was on the hot air balloon ride, imagining floating across the sky on the ultimate safari experience. We arrived early enough to see how the balloon was set up. Huge fans slowly filled the balloon to take shape before they set the burners on. Once there was enough hot air in the balloon and everything had been tested, checked, attached and positioned it was time.
It felt so magical as the huge 260kg basket gracefully lifted its skirt off the ground and effortlessly glided up into the air. We floated along enjoying some magical sightings of elephants, reed buck, buffalo, hippo, zebra and even a cheetah running through the grass. This was taking game viewing to new heights! Excuse the pun…
As they cannot control the direction of the balloon much calculation goes into the location of the launch spot to maximise the flight time. They take wind speed at various levels and wind direction into consideration, not to mention the trees along the way and the team clearly did their calculations perfectly. We saw awesome game, missed all the big trees and marvelled at the myriad of colours that make up the Okavango Delta.
After around 45 minutes of hot air ballooning over the Okavango Delta, the pilot found a perfect landing spot and brought us safely to the ground. After a minute of “oh wow that was amazing in silence” we all broke out in loud cheers for what was hands down the best experience to date in the Okavango Delta. Snacks, champagne and laughter followed this magical event and the memories will remain with us forever.
Kana Kara is a good value camp in the Okavango and is featured on our safari 10 nts Discover Botswana_Standard 2016 . For guests looking for a little more luxury, Kadizora offers more upmarket accommodation. The hot air ballooning over the Okavango Delta is an optional activity operated by Air Ventures and currently costs $430 USD per person in 2016 for a minimum of 2 guests.