--serengeti from above


The crisp air of the African morning had left dew on the grass that softly folded under our feet and the mauve sun was just visible on the horizon behind the silhouettes of the acacia trees. Three massive balloons were slowly being inflated by rotund fans at full capacity as we approached the take off site.

We entered the sixteen man basket as it lay on it's side. This meant grabbing on to the edge and hauling yourself into one of the pockets feet first, so that you ended up lying on your back. Staring at the wicker in front of us we strapped in as the pilot opened up the gas valves to the riotous roar of the flames that began to further inflate the balloon. Slowly but surely we began to tilt forwards so that finally we sat upright. The pilot, a British man of middle age with a cap on his head and whimsical smile on his tanned face, gave us our last assurances in a tone of voice that more than suggested his confidence in flying. He struck me as a classic novel type character from something like Out of Africa, so much so that I could swear we had just wandered on to a film set by accident.

Up we rose above the endless plains of the Serengeti savannah unbroken as far as the eye could see. A river snaked in large lumbering loops far below us and carried on lazily into the morning sun which heralded the start of another day of survival for all the wildlife in this vast expanse.