“Why is it you can never hope to describe the emotion Africa creates? You are lifted. Out of whatever pit, unbound from whatever tie, released from whatever fear. You are lifted and you see it all from above.”
Francesca Marciano (Italian novelist and filmmaker; extract from “Rules of the Wild”)
Rising over the African earth, the above rings true. A collection of breath catches in the folds of the hot air balloon, excitement elevating with smooth ascent. Surrounded by silence and the vast expanse below, disconnected from the world; but at one with the elements. The option to experience safari from a hot air balloon is an invitation to commit poetry. Floating elegantly above the world, gazing down on the deposited stories and paths of wildlife, taking it all in, without leaving a trace. Camp Kuzuma, Botswana celebrates this type of safari experience. From riding the roads to riding the wind, we encourage guests to suspend their usual ideas of a safari, spending time in the wild in a more connected state of mind.
We recently surprised guests with a hot air balloon excursion over the Seloko Plains, an abundant animal corridor nearby the lodge. These naturally created wildlife corridors have been used for years as connecting pathways between rivers, national parks as well as other countries. The plains link Botswana to Zimbabwe, a veritable animal border post, without any need for passports, deeming travel efficient and accessible to all. Chobe National Park in Botswana is renowned for its abundance of wildlife, teeming with thousands of elephant, herds of buffalo, giraffe, hippo and birdlife – the Chobe river the life-source of the region. An open corridor between this animal paradise and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is a safari aficionados dream – the variety bountiful, as well as the natural movement between the two countried a sign of a healthy ecosystem. There are many ways in which we envy animals – but free reign and movement with no travel restrictions between countries is certainly one! However, when floating above in a hot air balloon, we share this freedom – rising above the world with borders and boundaries.
A pre-dawn pick up from the lodge had the clients thinking they were off on a sunrise game-drive – a special activity in itself. Rising with the sun to welcome in the day holds a myriad of magic – golden light, a higher possibility of seeing the elusive lion and leopard, and the abundance of birdlife which orchestrates dawn. Sunrise feels sacred when immersed in the wild, each day gifted with a true feeling of renewal.
A unified gasp rose from the back of the safari vehicle as we approached the hot air balloon and its crew. Excited anticipation and curiosity joined the excursion, mixed with disbelief at the expedition which was about to ensue! Climbing into the basket, heat and excitement levels rising, our clients ascended into the African sky to greet the dawn.
When floating above the world, with the sun breaking over the horizon and the savannah below blanketed in gold, the world takes on a heavenly glow. The wilderness beneath is untouched; alive with the promise of a new day, animals awakening to fresh possibilities after a night of survival. Herds of sable, zebra and elephant emerge from the forest, crossing the Seloko corridor in natural migration. The world from above feels your own, surrounded by silence and scenery, floating as if in a dream.
On arrival, the clients stepped out of the basket, greeted by a bottle of champagne to celebrate their journey. They accepted in serene gratitude – the experience settling on their skin and imprinting in the corridors of their minds. The bubbles brought out the stories from their adventure, unforgettable safari experiences always best paired with champagne.