Hot Air Ballooning over Vumbura Concession

Arabella Worthington

09 Jun 2016

why arabella loves hot air ballooning over vumbura

It’s no secret that the Okavango Delta is my favourite place for wildlife viewing in Africa (and possibly the world) and it may not surprise you that I’ll do anything to get up in the air. I’ve been on a hot air balloon safari over the Mara years ago and absolutely loved it. So when I heard that hot air balloon safaris have just been introduced from Vumbura Plains and Little Vumbura Camp I rang every client I have who is booked there this season to see if they wanted to take up this magical opportunity. Funnily enough, most did! And even better, you can fly by helicopter to and from the hot air balloon launching site. It all gets too much! 

Excitement levels at my desk were through the roof.

Soaring above the Okavango Delta in a hot air balloon is surely on your bucket list. Watch the sunrise as dawn awakens the big cats as they start their morning hunt, see herds of elephants and buffaloes head to the water’s edge for their morning drink and hear the morning chorus of the birds throughout the mopane forests. This is a wonderful opportunity to get some aerial photos and videos and to truly understand the complex ecosystems that make up the Okavango Delta. After your balloon flight, you’ll be treated to champagne and bush snacks. For those who wish, enjoy scenic helicopter flights to and from the hot air balloon launch site. This gives you ample opportunity to experience the wildlife from the sky.

When I stayed at Vumbura Plains recently I had the most amazing experience of arriving by helicopter. I’ve travelled by light aircraft on countless journeys in and out of the Delta since I first went in 2002, but I’d never been in a helicopter before. I really am not used to this incredible treatment but I was coming from Chief’s Camp (one of the only camps in the Delta to have WIFI), and found out that I had just completed on my first flat, so I think I probably told everyone working there, as I couldn’t contain my excitement! The heli pilot got wind and didn’t have a scheduled flight that day so he thought he’d drop me off to Vumbura Plains himself (and stop off for a champagne break enroute). What an amazing experience it was, I saw herds of ellies, big crocs sunbathing and dazzles of zebra! It was incredible to spot the wildlife from above through massive clear screens. But to then do this in a hot air balloon must be even better. It is slower (I love travelling slowly) and you’re with the elements. The balloons only take 4 guests and a pilot (I remember being packed into one with 12 in Bagan so 4 is a real treat), so it’s perfect for couples looking for romance or families looking for adventure. Little Vumbura and Vumbura Plains both have family rooms and so long as a child is accompanied by their parents, they are fine to fly and even get a certificate!

A rich variety of wildlife inhabits this area including lion, wild dog and cheetahs in the open plains areas. Good numbers of zebra, antelope (lechwe, impala and kudu etc.), elephant and buffalo are also present which might explain the high volume of predators. So this is a fantastic concession to spend some time on terra ferma too! Even to get to Little Vumbura is an adventure as you must get there by boat. 

The balloon safaris are only available until 30 September so now is the time to book! 

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