16 July 2014 – Day 5/8 Safari@Tanzania

Woke up at 3:30 am. Had a cup of coffee and off we went at 4am for our rendezvous. After more than an hour drive in the dark on the Serengeti plains, we were met by another jeep to bring us to the launching ground of the hot air balloon. Here we saw how the balloon was inflated. We took off at 6:35am and had almost an hour of aerial view of the plains and its wildlife, witness a sunrise from above too. After the balloon flight, we had a champagne buffet breakfast by the Mara River.

As there was a already very large gathering of wildebeest by the Mara River, most of the afternoon was spent waiting in anticipation for the crossing of the Wildebeest and Zebra, but uneventful. However, we did managed to spot quite a number of other animals while driving around the different spots.

Drove more than an hour from 4am in the dark to our rendezvous point to meet up with the hot air balloon operator. It was chilling in the early morning.

After another short drive, we arrived at the launch location.

Staff were already busy setting up the balloon. 2 big fans were first used to fill up the balloon with air.

Never waste time while waiting, could always do some poses.

The 4 beauties from our jeep.

No harm taking another solo pose.

Sweet couple!

Me and my dearest!

Setting up a second balloon for another group. The truck behind was used to pull the basket upright after the balloon was inflated.

The balloon was filling up fast as day broke.

The gas burners, 4 of them, were fired up to heat the air inside the balloon.

Heated air inside the balloon expanded and became lighter.

Finally, the balloon was up and ready.

One more pose before boarding.

Boarding time. Getting into the basket meant climbing over its sides.

Airborne. Second balloon for another group just below us over the Mara River.

Sunrise viewed from the balloon.

Aerial view of Serengeti Plains.

Mara River as viewed from above.

Everyone is fascinated with the aerial view of Serengeti Plains.

Busy shooting too the wildlife from our vantage point.

Though the flight was a short 1 hour only, it was a unforgettable one.

This herd of elephant tried running away as the balloon approached.

The female elephant turned around to look if it’s safe from us probably.

The giant balloon looming above must have been quite scary to the animals, everyone seem to be running for their lives. Here, a herd of Impalas trying to get away.

All the giraffes kept a watchful eye as our balloon approached from a distant.

Started running as we got nearer.

The giraffes ran into a herd of Grant Gazelles.

Getaway zebra.

Hartbeest, also known as Kongoni.

Spotted this jeep in the middle of a Rock Farm, probably searching for lions.

A large gathering of Wildebeest.

Nice rock formation. Good location to hunt for lions.

Startled Wildebeest

Had a very bumpy landing. Basket was dragged by the balloon and bounced several times off the ground before it came to a standstill on its side and we had to crawl out of it.

By the time we were all out, the balloon was already fully deflated.

My first ballooning experience.

The ladies and our SG guide.

A group shot for this exciting and memorable event.

Champagne buffet breakfast by the Mara River was readied and waiting for us after our balloon flight.

A toast from our pilot.

Champagne for our SG guide too.

A scenic and wonderful place to have breakfast.

Must have been quite an effort to set all these up and bring the food and drinks too.

Certificate for everyone.

Me too of course.

Spotted these 2 hippos just after our breakfast.

With large herd of Wildebeest massed near the Mara River, spent most of today waiting and anticipating for what we had come for, the Wildebeest crossing.

Waited and saw some Wildebeest went close to the river a few times, but each time they turned back.

Several false alarms got us scrambling to the edge of the river.

Our wait today was totally in vain but was told the Wildebeest would cross sooner or later. Hopefully tomorrow would bring better luck.

A lone giraffe strolling across the plain.

Black-headed Heron

Many such skeletons were littered everywhere. This was from a buffalo.

Most birds are monogamy. Ostrich is the exception polygamy.

The darker one is the male and the other 2 are females.

Agama agama, a lizard that sometime does a funny action jerking its head up and down.

Spur-winged Plover

Spur-winged Plover, also known as Spur-winged Lapwing.

Zebras, like the Wildebeest, also do their annual migration crossing the Mara River.

Spotted this solitary young male elephant at a distant.

Unlike carnivores, herbivores can live harmoniously side by side like the Wildebeest, Zebras and elephant here.

African Wattled Lapwing.

Long-tailed Fiscal

Ruppell’s Griffon Vultures

Three-banded Plover

Drove to several spots to check which had a better view of the River where the Wildebeest were likely to cross.

More Wildebeest

Rufous-crowned Roller

Rufous-crowned Roller

Spotted a few giraffes while moving between viewing locations.

Giraffes seem quite common too at Serengeti. Saw them almost daily.

Superb Starling

Massing of Wildebeest for the river crossing.

On the way back to our lodge after giving up on the Wildebeest crossing, spotted this mother and child elephant.

Young elephant is vulnerable to attack by lions and need the protection from its parent.

The female elephant continued feeding, oblivious to our present, probably knew that we were no thread to her young.

A small herd of Hartbeest among the tall weeds near to our campsite.

Hartbeest or Kongoni has short heart shape horns.

Our guide Elly from Legendary Expedition suggested we get off from our jeep and do some memorable group pose on the Serengeti Plain. Off the 3 guides we had for this trip, he was the best and most patience. A bird lover himself, he helped us ID most of the birds we saw.

The sign that Elly showed us, think it meant Serengeti here.

The spirit was high with everyone.

One jump too many? Coordination all out!


~ by grbenji on 16/07/2014.

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