Hot Air Balloon Ride Over the Masai Mara, Kenya

The firey glow gently inflating a huge balloon, to take off as sunbeams come across the horizon, is the best way to start the day. Floating into the sky along with the sun while watching mother nature wake up is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

One of my favorite travel experiences ever was taking a hot air balloon ride in the Masai Mara during the Great Migration. Home to thousands of species of animals, including the Big 5 safari animals, it’s truly a wildlife lover’s dream destination. 

Game drives and walking safaris are the most common experiences when on a safari in Kenya, but don’t miss the opportunity to see the animals from above. Here’s your guide to taking a hot air balloon ride in Kenya. 

Hot Air Balloon at sunrise over the Masai Mara
The beautiful colors of the sunrise

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How much does a hot balloon ride in Masai Mara cost? 

First things first – price. This is usually what everyone wants to know. It cost $500 per person for a hot air balloon ride experience, including landing fees. This was considered an optional excursion as part of our safari, and not everyone chose to go. If you’re part of a group and choose not to go, then you would have a morning safari (or you can sleep in!). Sunworld Safari organized our balloon ride with Mara Ballooning!

Is a hot balloon ride in Masai Mara worth it? 

YES!!!! Sorry, am I a bit too excited? Yeah probably, but if I ever go back to Kenya, I would pay it again to do it again. There’s more detail below about our experience. 

Four hot air balloons in Kenya
Sunrise hot air balloon

How is the hot air balloon landing? 

Surprisingly, more people ask about the landing than the takeoff. However, both were incredibly smooth. I have a terrible fear of heights and was trying to keep my breath under control for both aspects of the experience. 

Our group after the hot air balloon landing!
The group after landing – one bump in landing, but very smooth
Read More: Plan a Safari to Kenya

What is a hot air balloon ride in Kenya like?

The day of the hot air balloon safari is an early start. The staff at camp woke us at 4:00 am with coffee, tea, and some snacks to hold us until breakfast. Armed guards escorted us to our jeep (remember you’re always near wild animals in Africa – hippos and buffalo often ate and slept nearby). It was completely dark through the 35-minute drive. As someone who gets lost in her hometown, I couldn’t understand how our driver knew where to turn in the dark! 

We arrived at an open field with a number of other jeeps. Our driver informed us that the wind was favorable and we’d have plenty of opportunities for photography and wildlife spotting! 

Lighting up the hot air balloon

There were five of us from the group, eleven guests, and the hot air balloon pilot – making 17 people in the basket. While you couldn’t walk around the basket, it was comfortable. 

The group in the hot air balloon overlooking a giraffe.
The 17 of us enjoying watching the giraffe from above!

I’m terrified of heights, so when we were in the basket, I kept my head down and did some deep breathing. I was nervous for the balloon lift-off – that it would be rough or bouncy or fast – I didn’t know what to expect! Honestly, though, I couldn’t even tell when we actually left the ground. 

Once we were in the air, the balloon flight was incredibly smooth. It quickly became my favorite form of game drive and I wish more of our safari drives were in a balloon (and that I could afford it).

A herd of wildebeest from the hot air balloon ride over the great migration
A herd of Wildebeest from the hot air balloon.

One of the benefits of taking a Masai Mara hot air balloon ride is the exquisite wildlife. Not only are you welcomed with a beautiful sunrise, but also millions of wildebeest, herds of giraffes, and zebra. We were lucky enough to see a few hyenas and a pride of lions. 

The hot air balloon ride lasts about sixty minutes before landing in a designated spot in the Masai Mara National Reserve. We were greeted by staff for a champagne breakfast – which is still my favorite breakfast of all time! The Masai Mara has to be the coolest breakfast spot in the world. Not only were we served a delicious breakfast feast, there was also a temporary bathroom set up –  the Loo with a view! Where else can you go to the bathroom while looking at wild zebra? 

Read more: Accommodation on Safari in Kenya
Our champagne breakfast from the hot air balloon
Our breakfast being set up on the Masai Mara!
The temporary bathroom set up - two people standing in front of it.
My cousin and dad outside the Loo with a View. You can see zebra in the back!

While the wake-up time was early, and the price tag a little steep, this once-in-a-lifetime experience was totally worth it. The Masai Mara National Reserve is the perfect place for a hot air balloon. 

If you have any questions about the hot air balloon ride, just let me know in the comments!

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Hot Air Balloon Ride in Kenya pin
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