When one reads about the Serengeti it evokes images of old-fashioned adventure. But it is like appreciating God’s creations; or if put in another way, it’s a place visited by God’s chosen ones, it is a welcome to his paradise. And I never thought I would experience it from an eagle’s eye perspective.
Singita Grumeti offer hot air balloon safaris. Early morning, before sunrise one floats off to watch this beautiful paradise come alive! On this particular morning we took our guests for a hot air balloon ride, and we arrived at the site as they were busy setting up the balloon. I then got invited to join and with no hesitation I said yes! Before climbing into the basket, the pilot went through the safety briefing and, next thing, we were all hanging sideways, as comfortable as it will allow and ready for lift off. The flames opened up and the basket slowly started to lift. Within minutes we were off the ground, rising above the horizon, watching the plains come alive, waiting for the sun to set its first beams of light over the mountains in the far distance. The noise of the burning flames stopped! And for a moment everything became silent. We floated in the air, so smooth, true serenity, you can call it, spiritual! Never in my life have I experienced such peace and silence. We looked down and saw the plains teeming with life. Beneath us, hundreds of wildebeest and herds of zebra, eland and topi. We saw a herd of elephants rushing in under trees, Thompson’s gazelles, raptors flying from their nest underneath us and the odd single hyena running through the grass. It only lasts for an hour but it feels like one can stay up there for a lifetime.
After the flight and landing the guides had a set-up ready for us with the choice of orange juice, sparkling wine or a mimosa with a few breakfast snacks to peck on. The pilot tells you the entertaining story about the history of who invented the hot air balloon and what it took to first get it to land successfully.
This was not the only moment I can take away from the Grumeti reserve…
The phrase ‘tree climbing lions’ seems a little bizarre to those who have never seen this unusual behaviour. Even I agreed that lions are not evolutionarily adapted to scale trees and perch atop branches. In fact, this phenomenon is rare. Lions are believed to climb trees as a behavioural adaptation to protecting themselves from the constant irritation of insect bites while lazing on the ground under trees. Some claim that these lions have perfected the art of climbing trees as a way of escaping the sweltering heat on ground level. This way, they can enjoy a cool breeze and blissful nap without worrying about the happenings on the ground. Moreover, this position is an excellent vantage point from which to observe the movement of prey as they cross the plains in search of grazing opportunities and water.
I was fortunate to be here during the time of the migration. The region hosts the largest mammal migration in the world! Blue wildebeests, gazelles, zebras and buffalos inhabit the region, along with lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, giraffes, topi, Thompson’s gazelles, warthogs and the tiny dik-diks.
The most incredible views of thousands of animals dotted across the grasslands…