The sky over the Masai Mara Game Reserve, which is once again – and quite unseasonally – filled with the wildebeest migration, returning for a second time this year due to drought conditions in the Serengeti, will be the playground for dozens of hot air balloons this weekend. The balloon festival will no doubt bring focus on not just the Masai Mara but Kenya tourism overall, as the spectacle of dozens of multicolored balloon envelopes floating overhead is rare if not unprecedented in terms of numbers in Kenya.
Between December 6 and 8 every morning at dawn a small armada of balloons take to the air, not just to celebrate ballooning – now an integral part of Kenya’s tourism attractions since Allan Root first took to the skies in a series of trials before ballooning was given a commercial launch at Keekorok Lodge – but to also raise extra awareness to the problems of poaching. Part of the festival proceeds will be donated to anti-poaching operations in Kenya. This unprecedented festival of hot air ballooning was made possible through swift approvals by Kenya’s Civil Aviation Authority and the support of key corporate sponsors like East Africa’s leading mega market chain Nakumatt, Brussels Airlines, Safarilink and Mada Hotels’ Fig Tree Camp, among others.
Several special packages were launched for visitors from across Kenya and the wider region to be able to see the balloon launches every morning close up and personal and when the first sunrays this morning creep across the horizon in the Masai Mara, those privileged to take a ride will be able to wave to the crowd below before the roar of the burners will swiftly see the balloons rise into the sky, leaving those on the ground turned into little specks on the ground. Happy Landings to the crews and passengers while celebrating Kenya Tourism from the air and on the ground.