A Safari Flight with Air Ventures Hot Air Ballooning

Two men prepare a yellow, red and black hot air balloon for a flight

My mum lives vicariously through me; she’s proudly told me so since I was a teen. When I told her that one of my biggest dreams was to go on a hot air balloon ride, she bought a Safari Flight for Two from Air Ventures Hot Air Ballooning for my 50th birthday. Spoiler: it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

Sunrise over the African veld, north of Johannesburg

We met at 5.15am on a chilly autumn morning at Kloofzicht Lodge & Spa, which just happens to be one of my favourite venues in Jo’burg. Two strong cups of coffee later and we were ready to drive to the launch site. We met the team and watched as the balloon was prepared for our flight. Once the balloon was vertical, we all climbed into the basket and held our breath.

Mist rises above the African veld on an autumn morning

We’d been warned that conditions were so still that morning that there was a small chance that we would not be able to ascend. Suddenly the most subtle gust of wind prevailed and the balloon began to slowly rise into the air.

The Cradle of Humankind viewed from a hot air balloon

It felt magical to rise above the morning mist and see the landscape open up before our eyes.

The African veld viewed from the basket of a hot air balloon

Looking out over the edge of the basket, we were able to see in every direction as the pilot slowly turned us around.

Hot air balloon pilot searches for animals with shadow of balloon in background

While I enjoyed our first glimpse of the shadow of our balloon in the distance, our pilot Marc searched for signs of animals on the ground.

Mist rises above the African veld with the sunrise in the distance

First we began to descend as Marc had a special treat for us.

Green foliage on the bank of the Crocodile River

We were almost at ground level and we began to drift over the surface of the Crocodile river. It feels strange seeing that in English, I know it by the Afrikaans name, Krokodilrivier

Reflections on the surface of the Crocodile River

The key was to get as close to the surface as possible without getting the bottom of the basket wet. Given how chilly it was on that morning, we were all very invested in not getting our feet wet!

I’m happy to say that Marc handled it with expert prowess and we soon began our triumphant ascent.

A photographer captures the African landscape on an iPhone from a hot air balloon

Once again, we were treated to breathtaking vistas.

Rhinos seen from a hot air balloon

We had seen giraffe, zebra and springboks on the road to the launch site but we finally spotted some wildlife from the air. Believe it or not, there are two black rhinos in that photo.

Mist rises above the Crocodile River at Dawn

We flew past the rhino and the pilot began to slowly double back so that we could get a closer look.

South African Black Rhinos

This photo is on zoom but the rhino were no more than 50 metres away. I was amazed by how calm they were and how little we seemed to phase them.

Tiny shadow of hot air balloon on South African veld

Up in the air again…

The Crocodile river snakes through African veld

It’s obvious that I will never tire of these views.

Springboks on a hill top grazing

We began to descend again as we spotted some springboks in the distance. The springbok is the national animal of South Africa and they are named after their distinctive jumping style of running. There are 72 species of antelope in South Africa and we usually refer to them by name. The South Africans on the flight became quite bemused that certain tourists kept correcting the pilot each time he identified one (‘no, that’s an antelope’).

Blue and black wildebeest grazing

We spotted blue and black wildebeest grazing. The wildebeest were more wary of us than the rhino and treated us to a display of them chasing away over the plain.

Views for miles from a hot air balloon over the African veld

We also saw ostrich, blesbok and water buffalo from the air but were not close enough to capture them.

Wildebeest graze next to a shadow of a hot air balloon

By now the sun was high in the sky and our experience was coming to an end.

The view over the side of a hot air balloon

There were times when I regretted not taking a better camera with me on the flight but then I’d look down over the edge and realise I’d made the right decision. We were also warned that  landings could sometimes be rough and I didn’t want to bash either myself or a chunky camera.

In the end, Marc executed the most gentle landing ever – directly onto the trailer.

Mimosas after the flight

We were treated to mimosas which went straight to our head and we were handed certificates of completion. Stephen thoroughly enjoyed himself and wasn’t bothered by the height at all. We both loved it enough to want to do it again one day.

All too soon, it was time to drive back to Kloofzicht Spa where we were treated to a buffet breakfast overlooking the beautiful grounds and lake.

The Safari Flight, including breakfast, is R3,270pp which is approximately £150.

@mandyist A sunrise safari flight with Air Ventures #CapCut #southafrica #hotairballoon #safari ♬ Return To Innocence - Enigma
10 comments on "A Safari Flight with Air Ventures Hot Air Ballooning"
  1. It looks amazing the scenery is stunning.

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  2. That does look like fun. Love WATCHing hot air balloons!

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  3. This must have been so exhilarating. I liked all your pictures, but the first one with all the excitement of the trip to come embodied in the balloon being filled, took my fancy

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  4. some great shots! i liked the views over the river and you have presented the text and the photos well together. 72 wow, those are a diverse bunch of antelopes then! i am happy you got a wide view of the wildlife too.

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  5. I absolutely “get” the thrill of this ride, Mandy, because I once had a similar experience over the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, and will never forget it. ALL of it, including the setting up and taking down of the balloon! What a gift from your mom for your 50th birthday!! OMG. And you must have thrilled her by the show-n-tell of the entire experience!

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  6. This is such a wonderful gift and how thoughtful and on such a special day. Thank you for your extended post with absolute fabulous pictures. To be honest to me that is een krokodillen rivier….. and what a great video with it. What a great vacation that must have been.
    Have a great day.

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  7. I would like to enjoy a balloon flight. At that time, I would bring a "manju".

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  8. Wow, what a truly mesmerising experince! The sight of the city getting smaller beneath you as you elevate higher into the air with lots of excitement and enthusiasm is just magical. You get the real feeling of freedom as you soar the sky with birds and clouds. The weightlessness is bound to relieve all your worries to the ground as you escalate onto a world of marvelous sight and ecstatic pleasure. Thanks for sharing, and have a good weekend :) Aiva xx

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  9. What an incredible experience!beautiful views

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  10. That first picture is really marvellous. (Well, they all are. But that first one conveys the feeling of BEFORE taking the trip - that excited and slightly lonely feeling. Brilliant. The effects of the morning light, landscape and water are unlike anything I've seen before, too. What a fabulous birthday present!

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