Balloon Ride over the Masai Mara
The Masai Mara National Reserve nicknamed 'The Mara' was sadly our last stop in Africa and we decided it was time to go all out, spend up big and live like Royalty! ... Well at least I made the decision and B just went along for the ride. In the Mara it is easy to spent $1100 USD in one day, first you just have to book the champagne breakfast and hot air balloon ride over the Mara and second you book a luxury safari tent on the edge of the national park over looking all the wildlife - my credit card was hit hard that day!
Driving into the Mara you can see just how expansive the area is, the game reserve is in Narok Country, Kenya and borders on the Serengeti National Park in the Mara Region, Tanzania. The park gets its name from the local inhabitants and their description of it - 'Mara' for 'spotted' which was the Maasai description of the circles of trees, scrub and cloud shadows. On a more global scale the park is famous for the large amount of big cats - cheetahs, lions, leopards and the annual migration of zebra, gazelle and wildebeest that come from the Serengeti every year between July to October.
I would just like to go back a few days and describe our drive up through Tanzania to get to Kenya. On our way we were lucky to see the animals migrating along the plains in their thousands. Our guide told us that if we were lucky we might get to see part of the migration in the Mara. We arrived near the end of June and some animals had already made it across the river which is full of crocodiles and other predators waiting to eat them. The Great Migration had started a month early this year and no one knew why.
Let’s not bore you with our first day but go straight to the one of the most exciting days of our trip. B had been up all night freaking out about the hot air balloon and worrying that we would miss the alarm set by him in our small tent we had lived in for the last 2 months. When you go on the hot air balloon you can get picked up by your guide any time between 4:00 am and 5:30 am, for us it was 5:30 am. Our balloon ride took off at 7:30 am because we were waiting for some passengers to arrive. As you fly over the Mara you get this wonderful view of the National park, an awesome different perspective from what you get when going on a game drive. We went up and down over the hills towards the river where the great migration takes place. When we touched down, roughly after an hour, we landed on our backs in the balloon which drove me into a hysterical laughter. Obviously I hadn’t learnt the brace position well enough.
In the middle of the National park you hop out and there is this spectacular table set up full of champagne and behind that is an even more divine table full of breakfast foods. The champagne flows endlessly and by the time breakfast was over B was drunk! Our guide was then to take us on our own private safari through the park; this was great except for the fact we had drank a bit too much and needed the toilet ... this was to come sooner than expected. We came across a group of young French teenagers, their guide and their land rover stuck in the mud. Our guide decided we were to help, so as B helped I did a bush pee behind our vehicle ... this was not very successful and I ended up peeing on my MC Hammer pants!
That night we decided we were going to upgrade from our little (and I mean little) tent to a massive safari tent with its own private bathroom. Ahhhh luxury!!! I sat on that deck and drunk my wine, while it rained outside and the animals of the Mara relaxed near the river. This was a great way to end Africa, you definitely need some luxury at least every now and then!