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Old Jun 25, 2012, 11:22 AM   #1
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Default Maasai Mara Hot Air Balloon Ride Day 2

We were awakened at 4:00am and got dressed and went to the lobby and left in our safari vehicles at 4:30. It was a 40 min. drive to the launching sight. It was still night when they began filling the balloons. There were two large balloons one held 12 and the other 16 passengers. We were in the larger balloon. The baskets were lying on their sides and we were loaded in two layers. The baskets had straps above your head so you could hold on when being launched and landed. I was allowed to stay outside the balloons to photograph the filling of the balloons with air. I climbed into the basket just before launch.
The balloon ride for any of you who have not done one was an experience that was like none other I have ever had. It was as if you were not going up but rather the earth was moving down. There was little sense of anything but gentle turning and slow forward motion.

The sights of the animals on the ground were amazing. I did not take the 150-500mm as I felt it was too cumbersome and I was afraid of injuring it if we had a hard landing (we did not). The K7 &Tamron18-250 did well as it allowed me to capture the full expanse of the Mara and was reasonably good on the long end.

The animals seemed to be as curious of the balloon as we were about seeing them below. They would get spooked by the sound of the burners and would run to get away from the noise.

Seeing the sunrise from the balloon was a special treat. We remained aloft for an hour and had a gentle landing shortly after our sister balloon came down. Our safari vehicles followed us and picked us up and took us to a sight that was set up for us to have a Champagne breakfast. We had a full breakfast with eggs and omelets cooked to order, it was really first class. Even a Loo was set up for us that had an open top. We dubbed it the Loo with a view! Wildebeest and Zebras were having there breakfast about 500 yards away from our tables. It was a surreal morning and the highlight of the trip.

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This picture was taken by a camera tethered to the outside of the balloon and triggered by the pilot with a radio remote.




A Maasai village at dawn.


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Old Jun 25, 2012, 11:37 AM   #2
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Our chase truck.


Our sister ship landing.


Our shadow.


What the roads in the Mara looked like.


Our balloon deflating after touchdown.


The bottom of the basket and the foot holes I used to climb into it at launch.


This gives a sense of the size of the balloon.


Our 4 burners.


Popping the cork for a champagne breakfast.


Martin our cook preparing to cook eggs.
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 11:47 AM   #3
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Our dinning area.


The Loo with a view.
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 12:50 PM   #4
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My inlaws took many Tauk tours and spoke very highly of them. From your pictures, it looks like they did not disappoint!

Great shots there Lou, and a really neat experience. I've got to ask though: did the western styled ammenities clash with the ambience of the savannah?

Thanks for taking us along on this trip through your camera!

Jehan
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 3:47 PM   #5
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What an amazing series. Thanks for sharing the experience. I shot a balloon fest and also got a ride. It is a one of a kind experience. Highly recommended if you get the chance. At sunrise no less! Wow.
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 8:43 PM   #6
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Remarkable photos Lou! Sounds truly like a once in a lifetime trip!
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Old Jun 25, 2012, 9:11 PM   #7
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What a great way to get these unique views! And nice job showing the details of the balloon as well...
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Old Jun 26, 2012, 10:14 AM   #8
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What a wonderful ending to your fantastic safari - never mind once in a lifetime, start saving now for #2 !

I must say that the shot 'Our Shadow' is superb timing !
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Old Jul 1, 2012, 5:25 PM   #9
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Thanks all for the nice comments.

Lou
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Old Jul 1, 2012, 6:06 PM   #10
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What a blast, you must have been on a high for ages after the experience, without a balloon that is.

Thanks for sharing.

Simon
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