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Ballooning Safaris  

For a tranquil aerial perspective on the bush, we organise early morning hot air balloon flights over the Big Five Private Game Reserves adjoining the Kruger National Park, the largest block of privately conserved land in the world. Herds of mammals are often seen; the balloon drops down to near ground level to give you an intimate view. The backdrop is a spectacular view of the Drakensberg Escarpment up to the Blyde River Canyon.

Buzzing the Big Five by Balloon
Buzzing the Big Five by Balloon

In the Hoedspruit area, there are flights over Kapama Game Reserve, Makutsi, Thornybush, Tshukudu amongst others. Launch sites vary to take off upwind of a good game spotting area. The decision is usually made the evening before the flight. Self-drive passengers are provided with a detailed map showing the locations of the operator's 12 regular launching sites.

Your expert pilot is fully qualified, and will ensure a safe, enjoyable and informative experience that will be form of the highlights of your visit to Big Game Country.

You meet before sunrise at a pre-designated take-off location. Coffee is served while you watch your eight-storey high balloon being inflated and prepared for flight.

Watch your Balloon being inflated before the sun rises
© Chris Kirchoff, Media Club South Africa

After a safety briefing you should be airborne in time to witness the sunrise. Then a change in altitude to search for a favourable wind that will allow you to drift gently over the landscape. Game spotting cannot be guaranteed but on most flights we see giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, nyala, impala, bushbuck, waterbuck,duiker and warthog. Rhino, buffalo, elephant and lion are more difficult to spot, but there is always a good chance.

Balloon Safari over Klaserie River

After about an hourís flight, the pilot will select a suitable landing site where the retrieve crew will be in attendance. Passengers don't have to be physically fit, but be prepared to stand in the basket for at least an hour. Youngsters are welcome but should be at least 1.2m (4 foot) tall, so they can see over the rim of the basket. Sparkling wine and fruit juice are served after the flight, and there is the opportunity to continue on to an excellent local lodge on a secluded island for breakfast.


Here are sound snippets of an interview we did with Wynand Uys, who is both owner/ proprietor of Otters Den Lodge just outside Hoedspruit, and a qualified Balloon Pilot and White Water Guide.

He talks about typical expeditions into the air and onto the water, and also tells us about Otters Den.

Hot Air Balloon Safari, Klaserie Dam, Greater Kruger national Park
© Chris Kirchoff, Media Club South Africa