Balloon safaris

Hot Air Balloon Safari Experience in Murchison Falls National Park.

Murchison Falls National Park is one of the many protected areas controlled by Uganda Wildlife Authority. It’s located above the Midwestern region of Uganda, stretching several kilometers towards Lake Albert from Bugungu Wildlife Reserve, engulfs the major part of Victoria Nile and Karuma Wildlife Reserve.

This entire area together forms the Murchison Falls Conservation Area. The Park covers parts of Nwoya, Masindi, Buliisa, and Kiryandongo districts, but Masindi district stands as the nearest from the park with a distance of 45 miles apart. Murchison falls national park is located 176 miles north-west of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Explorer Samuel Baker and his wife Florence Baker named the park after British geologist Roderick Murchison. Roderick was at a time the president of Royal Geographical Society.

In 1952, it earned its status as a National Park. It’s largely a Savannah Park and has all kinds of distinct wildlife ranging from land mammals, birds and reptiles. Its portion of the River Nile has the highest population of crocodiles compared to any other drained area in Uganda.

There are over 76 land mammals, some of which constantly migrate to the park from Bugungu and Karuma Wildlife Reserves. Common ones include, buffaloes,
Rothchild’s giraffes, elephants, antelopes, warthogs, and many others. Bird population is distinct as there are more than 400 bird species with a rich composition of both water birds and land birds. All these, Murchison Falls and flora make up center attractions for this park and pool thousands of visitors annually. It translates into numerous activities around these attractions such as boat cruises, game drives, birding, nature walks and chimpanzee trekking tours. Be that as it may, a new interesting activity has since been introduced into Murchison Falls national park – Hot Air Balloon safaris.

About Hot air balloon safaris in Murchison Falls National Park.
It’s a new addition to the already existing fun activities in Murchison Falls National Park. Since its introduction, it has gained much popularity and numerous tourists always look up to enjoying the aerial ride over the park. Murchison Falls National Park is the only national park in Uganda where it’s possible to experience a hot air balloon safari. It’s operated by Dream Balloons Company that got certified in 2011 to conduct the activity by Ugandan government, through UWA, Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, Uganda Communications Commission, and National Environment Management Authority.

The pilots have all the required licenses and certifications from both Egypt Aviation regulators and Uganda’s Civil Aviation Authority. It’s a requirement needed to ensure safety of all visitors. Different from the widely held perception of the balloon sizes, the size of a hot air balloon changes with the amount of hot air filled into it. Therefore, the more the air, the more weight each of the balloons can carry.
Currently, only 8 people are the maximum number required for each balloon to carry. There’s an age requirement too, which is at a minimum of 6 years old for each participant. This is to minimize health risks since the balloons can take flight to over 10,000 feet in the high skies.

Hot air balloon experience.
Participants are set for the starting point as early as 5:00am. The starting point is in vicinity of Paraa Safari Lodge. While at the site, visitors are able to notice last-minute preparations of the organizing team, and assembly of the balloons. Visitors are then taken through a briefing session about not only what they should expect, but also the guidelines while they are on the balloon flight. Boarding will be underway, and then pilot sets off.

The balloon is able to go to high meters above sea level which gives tourists a view of some nocturnal animals summing up their late-night activities. As the sun rises, the glorious view comes with a remarkable
view of wilderness and its inhabitants. Visitors can go on for an average 1 hour in the skies and upon landing, are granted certificates, champagne and special bush breakfast.

A game drive will succeed the later activities where tourists will then have a ground experience of park’s wilderness. At the conclusion of the day, visitors can then retire to their places of accommodation.
There’s also a sunset flight which kicks off at around 4:00pm. The difference of a sunset light from its morning counterpart, is that the evening flight doesn’t come with bush meals or game drives. But all the same, it’s a fulfilling adventure.

Who should take part in a hot air balloon?
Balloon safari is more recommended for couples on their honeymoons. This experience would add to the flare. Group escapades especially for adrenaline tourists is also a fulfilling activity. Or maybe couples celebrating anniversaries, and all kinds of tourists will definitely find this adventure worthwhile.

Why you should take a hot air balloon safari in Murchison falls national park?
There are not many ways a tourist can have a fulfilling aerial view of the park’s area other than hot air balloon safari. Visitors are able to view animals they wouldn’t otherwise be able to easily view if they took the option of game drives. The main reason is that during hot days when most travelers enjoy the game drives, they barely see some animals especially carnivores as most will have retired into hiding from the beaming sunlight.
Visitors also get an aerial view of the protruding Lake Albert, and proper views of the placid Victoria Nile. The Murchison Falls are also at a proper sight while on a balloon flight, and much more.

The cost of hot air balloon safari in Murchison Falls National Park.
Each visitor pays $380, and the price is strictly for adults. Children from ages 12 or below are gifted with a discount of 50% ($190). The cost is inclusive of refreshments before and after the flight. Participants also get balloon ride certificates from, bush breakfast, hotel transfer and not forgetting the flight above the park’s wilderness.

What to pack on a hot air balloon safari in Murchison falls national park?             A jacket, sweater or jumper is a must carry, with additions of a scarf, cloth gloves and head sock, because the activity kick-starts in early morning hours. This time comes with much coldness. Sun glasses and a hat come in handy when the sun has risen, while a camera is important for photography, and lastly binoculars for a fulfilling view of hiding wildlife in the shrubs and scattered tree.

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