Tanzania – Day 7 July 4

Rise and shine at 2:30 AM for a three-hour drive to the balloon launch site.

Ten of us boarded the hot air balloon for a sunrise lift off. Mary and I have been on a couple of hot air balloon rides, but none like this. The basket is on its side and tethered to a truck for liftoff. Each of us “boarded” laying on our backs. When the balloon had enough hot air we were off in a flash. More dramatic than a slow graceful liftoff like we’ve experienced in the past. The winds were too unpredictable for that kind of a launch.

Even though we’d been in the bush for almost a week, viewing the Serengeti from the air was breathtaking. The landscapes were beautiful, and seeing gazelles, a hippo pool party, and migrating zebras was just amazing. It is one thing seeing migrations on the ground. Seeing them from above was awe inspiring.

Landing was just as dramatic as takeoff. We came down still moving laterally, bounded a couple of times until the gondola tipped over. We landed just as we took off, on our sides. We finished with a mock champagne toast and a cooked to order breakfast in the bush.

Alex picked us up after breakfast as we wended our way back to base camp, seeing a large pride of lions and more zebras.

Alex served us a great picnic lunch under the shade of a big Acacia tree.

But wait, there’s more. As we made our way back to base camp, Alex let loose with an excited yell of “Cheetah – Cheetah – Cheetah!” He has really good eyes and we found this guy lolling under a tree eyeing potential dinner options across the field. He never really paid us too much attention, he was watching his dinner.

This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!

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