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Balloon Safaris

Balloon Safaris in Uganda

Balloon safaris in Uganda are one of the most amazing and thrilling ways of discovering the beauty of the country’s unspoiled wilderness. Are you an adrenaline junkie that enjoys experiencing extraordinary activities during your safari? Then the hot air balloon safari in Uganda, offering awe-inspiring scenery and uninterrupted views is what you ought to participate in.

Picture yourself flying in a hot air balloon in the sky, about 10,000 feet above sea level while watching the hidden off-road animals or large herds roaming across the vast spectacular plains. That’s the experience you are bound to receive when you participate in this mind-blowing activity. The adventurous activity offers a bird’s view of the African wilderness and exploring exceptional spots that wouldn’t otherwise be reached through other activities.

Balloon safaris are commonly conducted within Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s prime and largest Park situated in the north-western part of the country and gazetted in 1952 as well as Queen Elizabeth National Park, the second most visited Park situated in western Uganda and also established in 1952. Much as the activity is common in these two places, it is also conducted from the remote Kidepo valley National Park in north-eastern Uganda and involves the hot air balloon wandering over the vast flat plains with open savannah to spot animals that can’t be encountered in other places.

Balloon safaris in Murchison Falls National Park

Balloon safaris in Murchison Falls National Park are conducted by Dream balloons, a company with over 12 years’ experience in ballooning established in 2007 and registered in Uganda in 2011. Dream balloons was certified by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda Communications Commissions (UCC) and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to operate hot air balloons in the country and was interestingly also licensed to operate balloon safaris in Egypt. Not only that, their pilots are certified by both Ugandan and Egyptian CAAs to operate in these two countries and have experience of 1000 plus hours of flying.

The hot air balloon safari in this Park starts with pick-up from Paraa entrance (for guests staying in the northern banks) or ferry crossing for those staying within the southern part to the take-off position. You will be allowed to take pictures of the balloon inflation process then be briefed on the different safety regulations before taking off. Get your cameras ready again to capture the best aerial photos. After the 45-60 minutes balloon ride, all participants are awarded participation certificates on landing to signify being one of the few lucky ones to have jaw-dropping views of the entire Murchison Falls National Park.  After the ride, guests on full package proceed for a mouth-watering bush breakfast prepared by Paraa Lodge chefs and protected by armed UWA rangers.

Dream balloons mainly operates medium-sized balloons for 8 passengers and is ideal for honeymooners, private use and wedding proposals although there are plans to acquire the ones accommodating 12 and16 passengers as well as a smaller one for 2-4 people.

The hot air balloon safari cost $380 per person for a full package and includes 45 to 60 minutes’ balloon ride, bush breakfast, a breathtaking sunrise view and passenger boat crossing for tourists staying within the southern part of the Park although it doesn’t include your vehicle transport. However, you can opt for the cheaper option (economy package) for $300 and involves 45-60 minutes’ balloon ride, post sunrise view or sunset view and free passenger boat crossing for tourists staying in the southern banks of the Park but excludes bush breakfast and doesn’t include your vehicle transport.

For Ugandans and East African residents, the hot air balloon safari operated by Dream balloons costs $250 for 45-60 minutes balloon ride, passenger boat crossing for guests staying in the southern side of the Park but also excludes vehicle transport to the starting point.  If you are a VIP guest, interested in undertaking photo shoot sessions or wedding proposals, you can pay $2000 for sole usage of the balloon.

The price paid for the hot air balloon safari also guarantees views of the breathtaking Murchison Falls, Lake Albert and the Victoria Nile, Panorama view of the entire Park, pick up from set destinations, ferry crossing, watching herds of wildlife and off-road animals and photogenic opportunities during cold inflation inside the balloon in addition to full insurance by La Reunion Aerienne (covering third party insurance for passengers and property, pilot and crew, the balloon and equipment and ground operations). For guests interested in sunrise rides, it starts between 5:00am and 9:30am while the sunset rides start from between 4:00pm and 6:30 pm.

Balloon safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Balloon safaris in Queen Elizabeth reward tourists with the views of the vast savannah plains and large herds of elephants, buffaloes and antelopes among others.

Balloon safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park are conducted by Balloon Tours Uganda Ltd, with 10 years’ experience in ballooning and licensed by Civil Aviation Authority to operate hot air balloons in the country since 2014.

Manufactured by Kubicek balloons in Czech Republic, the only hot air balloon operated by this company accommodates up to 16 passengers with no minimum number and there are plans to introduce a bigger one that can accommodate 24 persons.

Balloon safaris in Queen Elizabeth National Park starts very early in the morning with converging at the meeting point (Kasenyi gate) at 5:30 am. The early morning drive at dawn offers chances of encountering the nocturnal animals especially leopards, lions and hyenas. You will be directed by the ground crew to the lift-off point which usually changes daily depending on the prevailing weather condition. You will have a chance to see and even take photos of the balloon inflation process, then be briefed by the pilot on the safety standards of the activity.

Take off and ride for 45-60 minutes in the sky (from tree tops to 2500 feet above sea level) while relishing the panoramic views of the Park as well as the wildlife below. On landing, you will have a toast with the crew and bush breakfast, followed by a certificate of participation. The experience costs $380 per person and includes the balloon ride, refreshments (bottled water) and the certificate but children below 12 years can be offered 50% discount of the adult fee.

Best Time for balloon safaris in Uganda

The hot air balloon safari is an all-year round activity although extreme weather especially windy conditions can hinder the activity for that particular day. If this happens, it can be postponed or your money refunded (depending on your choice). Therefore the dry months-December, January and February as well as June, July, August and September are ideal for the balloon safaris.

Minimum age for balloon safaris in Uganda

The minimum age for this adventure is 6 years but children below this age can do it under the guidance of an adult, preferably a parent.

What to bring for balloon safaris in Uganda

Tourists intending to experience the extraordinary hot air balloon safari have to carry a camera and extra batteries as well as binoculars although no special clothing is required. However, main luggage remains at the Lodge.

Therefore with balloon safaris in Uganda, tourists visiting the country can experience the vast wilderness in a new style. It can be enjoyed from Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley National Parks.

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