The Serengeti National Park is probably the most famous wildlife refuge in the world. This national park covers 14,763 km2, an area similar to the size of Northern Ireland. The full Serengeti eco-system, however, extends over a much larger area and includes the Maasai Mara in Kenya and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, linking over 25,000 km2 of land in which animals can move freely. Much of this is nutritious grassland which acts as a magnet for wildebeest, zebra, impala and Thomson’s gazelle.
On the south-east side of the Serengeti (adjacent to Ngorongoro) is Lake Ndutu, where open grasslands stretch as far as you can see. You are able to see wildlife throughout the year here, but from December to March it is full of additional wildebeest and zebra (please see the migration chapter below for more on this). Predators, such as lions, hyenas and jackals follow these herds closely. You can also see the large birds such as the secretary bird and the ostrich.
In the middle of the park lies the Seronera Valley, one of the richest wildlife areas in the park and very popular with tourists and researchers. A good place to visit in all seasons, thanks to its varied habitats, it includes the perennial river that gives the Seronera Valley its name, with all its tributaries and dams. It lies amid a transition zone between the long-grass plains to the south and the southeast and the woodlands to the west and north, with kopjes and hills for good measure, all of which ensures a wealth of wildlife throughout the year. The valley is known for its large, mainly resident, predators. It is not unusual to see the four largest predators - lion, leopard, cheetah and spotted hyena - in a morning game-drive. The wooded areas include baboons, monkeys, buffaloes, giraffes, eland, bushbuck and dik-dik antelopes. Waterbuck and Reedbuck populate the banks of the river and are being watched by leopards who enjoy lying in the shade of the trees. This area is also an excellent location for taking a balloon ride. There is almost nothing as enchanting as gliding over the landscape at sunrise, sometimes just over the tree tops and at other times high enough to fully experience the vastness of the wilderness.
The track into the Western Corridor from Seronera heads northwest, between the Seronera River and the Nyaraswiga Hills. The river then bends to the north to join the Grumeti while the track continues along another range of hills, the Kamarishe, emerging alongside the Grumeti. This area is an especially good place to see the Black-and-White Colobus Monkey, who seek refuge in the Wild Fig trees, one of the largest of the riverine trees to be found both here and elsewhere. The track continues westwards almost through the entire length of the Corridor, leaving the river near Kirawira to head for the western entrance on the shores of Lake Victoria. The country through which is passes is a mosaic of acacia woodland, open grassland and black-cotton mbugas (seasonally swamp areas or very wet grasslands). After crossing an extension of the Musabi Plain the track passes to the north of the Varichoro, Nyambogo, Mumughia and Simiti Hills.
The Serengeti plains and woodlands are world famous for the variety and sheer number of its animal population. A Serengeti Balloon Safari however, is not merely a game viewing experience, but rather an opportunity for an adventure and unique perpective over outstanding quintessentially African landscapes. Of course there can be no guarantee that you will see specific animals from the balloon. We have however seen soms amazing wildlife from the balloon and witnessed many incidents suha as lion kills, cheetah stalking and killing, leopard hunting and of course the annual million strong wildebeest migration, one ot the natural wonders of the world.
The flight is for about one hour depending on conditions, and eventually you must land. You celebrate in the traditional manner with champagne before sitting down to a full English breakfast.